Blocking lessons I learned before it was too late.
So nice! You’ve finally finished that sweater or block afghan. Methodically, you’ve put all of the pieces together, being EVER so careful. Sleeves fit perfectly into the body pieces and initially, your knitted blocks “seem” to be connecting okay.
Then suddenly, everything looks wrong!
Nothing is lining up OR what you have knitted and sewn together is hanging DREADFULLY! Now what do you do? :\
First ask yourself this question: did I block my knitting? If you’ve never heard of this term before, it is something that’s important to SOME of the items you knit. Notice I said some; because not everything you knit needs to be blocked or knitted according to gauge. Most often, you never see anything about blocking in pattern instructions. It’s just something “they” assume you know all about.
Here are a few knitting tips to keep in mind:
- When knitting a sweater or vest, some knitters block each individual piece first, then block the entire sweater or shawl when sewn together. If you know your measurements are correct, you could sew everything up first, then block. Your preference.
- Natural fibers such as wool, cotton or other animal fibers work best for blocking. But, all yarn can be blocked.
- You CAN use those special wool washes if you prefer, but again a mild baby shampoo works just as well.
- You can buy every fancy blocking tool out there OR you can use what you have around your house, too. It’s up to you.
If you knit lots of items that need blocking, then my recommendation is to buy a blocking mat and some T-pins. They go great together; and you’ll always have a special place to lay out all of your knitted treasures for their finishing techniques!
Here’s an example of a blocking mat. Almost looks like a very large puzzle piece, doesn’t it? These work REALLY well when getting your knitted pieces to their exact specifications.
All you need do is to stretch out your knitted piece to the specs that are cited in the pattern information. Get it as close as you can to what is specified and pin down all corners. And the nice thing about these blocking mats is that you can make them as small or as large as you choose. They interlock easily, so when you’re ready to block your lacy knit shawl you’ll have plenty of room! 🙂
Blocking completes a seriously intricate project. Especially lace knitting benefits greatly from being put through a blocking process. You just know that blocking makes your knitted piece look better, feel better and will drape ever so gracefully! That is only achieved with blocking.
Go ahead and pick up some T-pins, too. These 1.5 inch pins won’t rust or discolor whatever you’re knitting as regular straight sewing pins might, so be aware of that. One little box of 100 should last you for quite some time.
There are also blocking kits you can find on Amazon. Besides the T-pins you’ll also see something that resembles skinny knitting needles; actually they are longer blocking needles called blocking wires for delicate items such as shawls that you need to spread out and block fully. These long slim wire needles get inserted into the tips of your lace ends where they stretch your shawl (or whatever) out to its desired width, there to dry so every little point is perfect!
After all, you’ve spent countless hours on a knitted masterpiece, the finishing touches can be some of the most important work you’ll do!
How to Block Your Knitting OR Learn These Blocking Lessons
There is a way! And it’s not hard at all. In fact, there are a number of ways to block your fabric once it’s completed. There is
**Cool-Mist Blocking — this type of blocking is for delicate fibers such as silk, rayon or acrylic. That last one is a synthetic fiber, but does well with this type of blocking.
**Steam Blocking — this blocking is great when all you need to steam are small sections or seams of your sewn-together pieces.
**Wet Blocking — this is the method most often used.
For most knitting where you want to make the biggest difference to your fabric, then you do want to do a “wet block”. ALL fabrics do well with wet blocking as long as you treat them gently. REMEMBER: always be careful with any yarn you’ve knitted; these are your knitted treasures!
- Start with a basin of warm sudsy water. Baby shampoo or a wool wash does well. DON’T use anything with bleach or brighteners or chemical additives.
- Put your knitting in the water and let it get completely absorbed. Leave it in the water for up to 30 minutes.
- Lift the knitting OUT of the water and squeeze as much water out as you can. Press your knitting against the sides of the bowl.
- Refill the bowl with warm water and return your knitting to the water. Then gently squeeze your knitting in the water. Empty the bowl and squeeze any excess. Repeat this until your water runs clear.
- Place your knitting on a thick, absorbent towel. Roll up the towel so more moisture is removed from the knitting.
- Unroll the towel and prepare your blocking mat. Lay your knitting out on the mat, according to the specifications called for in your knitting instructions.
- For any shaping or points or scalloped edges, use t-pins or blocking wires to ensure that the proper size is achieved once your knitting has dried.
- Leave your knitting pinned until completely dried.
- Remove it from the blocking mat, but don’t stretch it.
There is wonderful information on blocking your knits in The Knowledgeable Knitter by Margaret Radcliffe. So many finishing techniques are discussed in that book. You can find a review of it right here.
So, there you have it! Blocking before you finish. By doing this last little touch, your knitting will look SO much better and more professional! It’s another SECRET to knitting!
Know your techniques, they’re not hard to do, and they take a little extra time, but the results are always so impressive! Blocking lessons you’ll never forget.
The next time you are close to finishing a knitting project, don’t forget your blocking lessons. Click through right now on the links provided, and pick up one or more of the materials you’ll need to make your next knitting adventure the best one yet! 🙂
As always, take your knitting to heart!