Once you’ve completed a hand-knit, it’s time to block it! I suggest you weave in the yarn ends before blocking your piece, so that the woven in ends become part of the finished fabric, and are set into place.
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.
Wet blocking consists of wetting your knitting and laying it flat, the way you want it, to dry. When you’re blocking a lace shawl or a sweater or a hat, there may be a few extra steps, but washing and laying to dry is really all there is to it. After blocking, your stitches will look smoother and more even, and if you have changes in fabric (like garter to ribbing for example), blocking helps to even these changes out. So let’s get blocking!
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Supplies for blocking your knits
- 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.
- Something to block on: I bought these foam puzzle pieces at the hardware store but a piece of cardboard, a bit of carpeted floor, or a mattress will do fine. You just need something to stick your pins into that will allow your knitting to dry.
- Wool wash: something like Soak or Eucalan are popular wool washes, but you can use shampoo too! 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.
- Something to soak your knitting in: either a clean sink or a clean basin. Emphasis on clean!
- A towel: to squeeze out the excess water from your knitting.
6 Steps to Block Your Hand Knits
- Fill your sink or basin with cool water and a squeeze of wool wash (or shampoo).
- Wet your knit. I do this by submerging my knitting and pressing out the bubbles. You don’t want to agitate your knit too much. Leave it for about 15 minutes to so it has time to get fully soaked.
- Take your knit out of the water and press out as much excess as you can. Do not wring the fabric, this can stretch it out of shape permanently.
- Roll your item in a towel and stomp on it, this removes most of the excess water, leaving the fabric damp.
- Lay your knit out on your blocking boards and use hands to stretch and pat it into shape. You want to lay your knitting out just the way you want it to look. For a scarf, aim for an even width and straight edges. Pin the piece into place if you like.
- Wait until your knit is fully dry, then unpin it, and enjoy!
Your knit should dry in a day or two depending on the climate (I love blocking outside in the summer, it’s so quick!). If your knit takes more than three days to dry, start over. The fabric will have a not-so-fresh smell to it. Try again, but this time squeeze out more of water out before you pin the knit out.
This tutorial covers the basics of wet-blocking, but there other 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 two for a block?
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