* in a dryer

* on a clothesline

* wringing thoroughly

* with a blowtorch

* tying to car antenna

* laying flat on helicopter landing pads

* with the steady breath of babes

* placing anywhere near the bottom of the ocean

* fitting onto shorn sheep

* matching with slacks that totally clash

* filling it with packaging dessicants

* reading Immanuel Kant to it

* taking it to Crockett County, Tennessee

* with deadpan humor

* extended wallowing in the injustice of house chores

* garnering an impressive amount of facebook comments about your laundry problems

* showing it who’s boss

* with casual, yet concerted charm

* playing software-emulated versions of old Nintendo games on computer until the owner of said sweater returns home to find a soggy pile on the bathroom floor, at which point you hold up your hands in surrender

* stuffing it behind washing machine until months later when owner of sweater asks where the mildewy stench is coming from

* offering it a handkerchief and just listening for once

* wearing it and hoping no one will notice the water pooling at your feet

* sending out resumés for positions as a sheet metal worker, a lion tamer or a professional bounty hunter

* discussing at length with sweater the changing roles of men and masculinity in the 21st century and how a new, conscientious generation of nurturing men are resetting standards and reframing words like “home” and “clean” and “patriarchy” and “delicate”

* deconstructing together the perpetuated violence implicit in “the wash cycle”

* with a gritty wisdom and a steady patience that is unique only to fathers

* delivering a WWF-style piledriver

* laying it between the pages of a copy of Martha Stewart’s Living

* shaking a Tinkerbell doll over it in hopes that there’s some pixie dust left

* calling your mother

* holding a small, but virally successful rally

* moving to a nudist colony

* with the warmth of home and hearth

* stern lectures

* time-outs

* threatening phone calls

* thrashing

* flailing

* flinging

* spinning

* low tumbling

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NATHANIEL MISSILDINE lives in Dijon, France with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of the 2012 travel memoir SAVE FOR FIREFLIES as well as a recently completed novel. Online writings, by turns comical and puzzling, are on display over at nathanielmissildine.com.

38 responses to “How Not to Dry a Wool Sweater”

  1. Irene Zion says:


    I think calling your mother for advice is actually the one good idea.

  2. Zara Potts says:

    You make me laugh, N.
    I envy your ability to switch between styles so easily.
    You write the funniest things sometimes that make me laugh out loud and then you write these gorgeous, rich musings on life and living that make me think out loud.
    I love your mind!

    • Thanks, Zara. Always with such a kind compliment that I probably don’t deserve, but that puts a little extra spring in my step for days afterward. Glad I could reach you both by laughing and musing.

  3. Hunh, that’s odd, I would have thought the steady breath of babes would have worked.
    Funny, funny piece. Like a roller coaster made of wet wool.

    • You’d think the steady breath of babes would do the trick, but it usually only winds up soothing the entire household to sleep.

      Meanwhile, my laundry bin is my new amusement park. The thrills are neverending and profound.

      Thanks for the comment, Robin.

  4. jmblaine says:

    ah thank
    this now
    we need at TNB.

    is the new vampire

    I was once told
    “If you want the finest
    strongest shine
    find a dry county.”

    • I always need a little minimalism to clear the air from time to time. Now let’s see if I can wrest thousands of squealing teens out of it.

      The shiniest I’ve ever been was in those dry counties, the soaked-through places never get the whole wash clean.

  5. D.R. Haney says:

    How do you feel about New York City? I suddenly see possibilities for you as a staff writer on the Letterman show.

    • Thanks, Duke. NYC is great, but Letterman tries to clip it down to ten every time. I always attempt to make it go to 11. But on your recommend, I’d give it the old college try, as long as he keeps his busy hands to himself.

  6. Finally! I realize what I’ve been doing wrong all of these years. No more steady breath of babes. The babes are done. Finito. Fired.

    Hilarious! Letterman could use you, Nathaniel!

  7. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Quite the comprehensive list. You’ve deeply considered this, haven’t you?

  8. Elizabeth says:

    If one can’t dry a wool sweater by way of a WWF-style piledriver, I am seriously going to have to re-think my laundry habits. Hmm. Thoughts on a WWE-style tombstone?

  9. I’m sorry, but I’ve tried this, and “reading Immanuel Kant to it” will actually cause it to unravel itself in the night and drag itself into the corner in a tangle of despair. Otherwise, nicely done.

    • Sounds to me like you’ve got what the laundry community likes to refer to as a post-structuralist. It’s a common reaction. Try to wash again in the most delicate cycle possible and remind it that you wear the sweater, not the other way around.

    • Gloria says:

      You guys fucking crack me up. I would read a whole page of Sean and Nathaniel shooting the bull about all subjects inane.


  10. Alison Aucoin says:

    I’m just impressed that you washed it instead of taking it to dry cleaners. Not to get all enviro-nut or anything but dry cleaning really is an evil process.

    • Nathaniel Missildine says:

      Yes, the dry cleaners are under another post about how to pay a lot to give your sweater a faint antiseptic smell. Not surprised there’s massive energy consumption involved.

  11. Greg Olear says:

    If you want to destroy my sweater
    Give it to Nat Mis-sil-dine

    I have done this before. Wool sweaters should never be placed in or near the regular wash!

    Funny as usual, NM.


    • Nathaniel Missildine says:

      How could I forget to mention Weezer? I guess I came undone a long time ago.

      Bon courage with the rest of the wash.

  12. Joe Daly says:

    I have one wool sweater. It’s one of those Irish numbers that I picked up in Galway a few years ago. I stopped wearing it because jerk offs started calling me “the Old Spice guy.” I live in California now, so I no longer need it. But I keep it on the shelf, just to remind myself that there are a lot of jerk offs in the world.

    • Nathaniel Missildine says:

      One actual way to dry a sweater might be with the stares of jerk offs down at the Gaslamp quarter. Secretly, people are just jealous of the Old Spice guy.

  13. This list is made of awesome, Nathaniel. So funny.

  14. Gloria says:

    Kant is super dry, isn’t he.

    You’re a funny man, Nathaniel.

  15. angela says:

    haha, hilarious!

    i dried a wool sweater in the dryer once. instant kid size.

    • One of the times I used the dryer before learning my lesson, my sweater came out with only the torso shrunk, making for wool with an exposed midriff. I’m holding onto it in case the look ever comes into vogue.

  16. Simon Smithson says:

    True story, I shrank my favourite wool sweater once. I loved that thing. I did the only thing possible: went over to the girl I was seeing’s house and said ‘Here! I got you a sweater!’

    “* offering it a handkerchief and just listening for once”

    Absolute. Favourite.

    • That’s smart thinking, there. I’ve tried passing shrunken clothes onto the children of the house, but that somehow doesn’t go over well.

      Thanks for stopping in, Simon, and feel free to try any of the suggestions above.

  17. pixy says:

    i can smell that poor wet sweater now and it (and this) makes me snortle. those mofros are impossible cunts, aren’t they?

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