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This is a delicate subject.  I would hate for you to yell at me years later because your favorite sweater is destroyed from washing. I will share the wonderful Eastern Kentuckian Secret (my hubbie is from thar). 
They do know how to keep things looking beautiful for a long long time. (think of the quilts in museums)

So, here's what to do.  Take your piece, put it in the bathtub or sink (which ever it needs to fit). Pour just enough laundry detergent to create a few bubbles. Not much, juuuust a liiiiiittttle. 
Now, let it soak for a few hours. Do not agitate it. Just let it soak (nod nod).
Rinse it out well. (shouldn't be hard, you didn't use alot of detergent right? Right.)
Hang to dry. Carefully, when the fibers or fabric are wet, that's when they are the most likely to strain, break or tear.

Now, for another method. If you are not worried about the piece in two or ten years. Wash as the instructions on your skein said. I have been washing my afghan for once a year for 5 years.  Poor thing, now its starting to fray. I have to start the above method.

Hey, when it all comes down to it, It's your painstakingly, lovingly, hard worked, bleed over, sweated over, intelligently and difficultly made project. Do what you want.

Major side note. If you wash something that has been stiffened, stiffener may come out.