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Blocking Basics

June 14, 2013

pinsOnce you have finished your scarf it’s time to block. I always block my knitting before weaving in the ends.

The fabric can change with blocking and you wouldn’t want your ends to start trying to get out!

Why block? I have a confession: I never used to block my knitting. It seemed fussy and unnecessary. What real difference could a little water and laying your knitting flat accomplish? Boy was I wrong. I’m a big convert to the world of blocking (thank you Emily) so I hope you will be too. Blocking consists of wetting your knitting and laying it flat, the way you want it, to dry. When you block things like lace it can get a little more complicated but that’s the gist of it. Your stitches will look smoother and more even and if you have changes in fabric (like garter to ribbing for example), it will help to even these changes out. So let’s get blocking!

Materials :::

blockingmaterials

1. Pins: I use T-pins (they are literally shaped like T’s) but any stainless steel pin will do. You want to make sure that your pins won’t rust because rust and knitting are not a good combination.

2. Something to block on:  I bought these foam puzzle pieces at the hardware store but a piece of cardboard will do fine. You just need something to stick your pins into that will allow your knitting to dry.

3. Wool wash: something like Soak or Eucalan are popular wool washes. Read the label to see if you need to rinse your knitting or not. Soak is a leave in wash and a squirt the size of a dime will do for a scarf.

4. Something to soak your knitting in: either a clean sink or a clean basin. Emphasis on clean!

5. A towel: this is to squeeze out any excess water from your knitting.

Instructions :::

1.Fill your sink or basin with cool water and your woolwash

2. Wet your knitting. I do this by submerging my knitting and pressing out the bubbles. You don’t want to agitate your knitting too much. Leave it for about 15 minutes to get it good and soaked.

3. Take your knitting out of the water and press out as much excess as you can. Do not wring your knitting, this can put it out of shape permanently.

4. Roll your knitting in a towel and stomp on it, this is also to remove excess water

5. Lay your knitting out on your blocking boards and using your hands push it into shape. You want to lay your knitting out just the way you want it to look. For a scarf you need to create an even width and straight edges. Pin into place.

Soak your knitting

Soak your knitting

Roll in a towel and stomp out any excess water

Roll in a towel and stomp out any excess water

Pin to blocking boards

Pin to blocking boards

Your knitting should dry in a day or 2 depending on the climate (I love blocking outside in the summer, it’s so quick!). If your knitting takes more than 3 days to dry, start over. Your knitting will have a  not-so-fresh smell to it. Try again, this time squeezing more water out before pinning.

This is basic blocking, but there other, more exacting, ways to block your knitting. How you block your garment will really depend on what it is and what sort of fabric you have. You might not use pins for a sweater (unless it has lace or cables) or if you are blocking a lace shawl you might want to use blocking wires. While blocking may seem fussy at first it really makes a big difference in the finished product. You spend so much time hand knitting, what’s a day or 2 for a block?

blockingfinal

16 Comments leave one →
  1. Tali Ann permalink
    September 4, 2014 8:50 am

    For a 2 month infant, I made the Moderne Lincoln Square blanket. Can I wash it in baby Dreft detergent and since I am a little nervous about blocking 34″ by 30 blanket I was thinking of then having a knitting store do it. What are suggestions?

    • September 4, 2014 2:37 pm

      Hi Tali

      What yarn did you use? If it’s a washable wool you can wash it in the machine and I would lay it flat to dry. If it is a wool you should hand wash for sure. Basically you will want to follow the washing instructions on the yarn and I recommend laying it flat to dry.

  2. August 12, 2014 8:44 pm

    I’m making your Wheat scarf right now. I’ve never blocked my knitting before but will definitely give it a go this time around. Thanks for the clear instructions.

  3. Kendrea permalink
    March 25, 2014 4:54 pm

    Hi and thanks! How do you block 3D things like a hat, sweater, or Möbius cowl, though?

    • March 25, 2014 10:21 pm

      Yep, I block EVERYTHING! There was a time when I thought it was a waste of time but I am a huge convert to the world of the block. I usually just block my hats flat but if it’s a beret or lacy I will block it over a plate or bowl. The sweater or Mobius cowl I would block flat.

  4. March 20, 2014 4:05 pm

    Hi, great post! Just wondering, is it absolutely necessary to use a wool wash if the fibers aren’t animal-based, e.g. acrylic? Are there any alternatives or home-made solutions?

    Thanks in advance!

    • March 25, 2014 2:01 pm

      If you have acrylic blocking won’t make a difference so you can skip it altogether!

  5. Annie permalink
    March 18, 2014 8:14 am

    Hi! Thanks for the tutorial! I was wondering if we have to do blocking only once or if we need to do it each time we wash the knitted sweater, for instance.

    • March 25, 2014 2:02 pm

      I would block it carefully the first time and always lay it flat to dry myself. So you are sort of blocking it each time. But lots of people use washable wools they toss in the dryer so it’s knitters choice!

  6. March 13, 2014 6:41 am

    Great tutorial – thanks! Dumb question – why would you not want to use pins for a sweater?

    • March 14, 2014 4:03 am

      Hi Kim

      It really depends on the sweater. If it has lace, for example, or if I need a little extra length or width etc. then I would use pins. Otherwise, on a simple sweater, I would just be blocking to smooth out the stitches so no pins required.

  7. Dagmar Tisdale permalink
    March 7, 2014 2:55 pm

    Where do I buy a blocking board?

    • March 14, 2014 4:06 am

      Your LYS is great if you have one. Otherwise you can use a piece of cardboard or I use foam puzzle mats, the kind they have for kiddies, the hardware store will have these.

Trackbacks

  1. Let’s Knit a Sweater | Tin Can Knits
  2. Free pattern Friday: Oats | espacetricot

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