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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 :::


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?


59 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah Jordan permalink
    March 21, 2017 10:31 am

    great blog and brilliant set of questions and answers
    my question (do you need to block acrylic yarn) got answered!

  2. October 19, 2016 3:58 am

    I am knitting the Snowflake pullover and I am wondering about whether to block the lace yoke before joining round. Any tips please? Is it necessary? Or will the lace open up sufficiently if I only block the finished garment. The thought of blocking and pinning with all those live stitches makes me nervous!

    (In case it’s important to know, the yarn is a wool/bamboo blend, nice and squishy – I’d hate to damage it).

    • October 19, 2016 9:32 am

      Hi – I think it is best if the yoke is blocked before joining in the round. I would put the stitches on waste yarn and give them a wet block. It opens the lace up a little more fully than when the sweater is complete

  3. Mickayla permalink
    September 15, 2016 4:27 am


    I was looking for some advice on blocking a large circular shawl. It’s 64in in diameter. The problem is that there is no carpet and the biggest bed available is a twin size. Could I try blocking it on the hardwood by taping (scotch tape, masking tape, duct tape) it into place? It’s a pretty sturdy wool, so I doubt scotch tape or masking tape would hurt it, but I was wondering if you knew any other way or if you’d heard of anyone trying this method. I can’t seem to find anything on the web for blocking such a large item without a big enough bed or carpeted floor.

    • September 15, 2016 9:19 am

      Hmm, a logistical question. I might try masking tape if you don’t think it will hurt the wool.

  4. Jen permalink
    July 7, 2016 6:15 pm

    I am finishing a sweater that I inherited from my great great great aunt and it is all in pieces (front, back, sleeves). Should I block the pieces first and then stitch them together? I would still need to finish the yoke and lapels once together since it is a button up.They are done in a super bulky yarn in k2p2. I am confused in which order I should be blocking, stitching together, and finishing it. Thanks.

    • July 8, 2016 10:53 am

      Hi Jen – I understand the confusion, which order to do those things is definitely a matter of debate among knitters. I would say, block the piece, sew them together, add the button bands and collar, then block the whole sweater.

  5. Pat permalink
    March 25, 2016 12:42 pm

    I am knitting a dish cloth with cotton yarn. I see some small spaces ( just a little loose). Should I block it and if I do, will it look better and closed spaces?

    • March 29, 2016 12:19 am

      Hi Pat – blocking will help to ‘even out’ your stitches, so it will most likely fix those slightly looser sts

      • Pat permalink
        May 5, 2016 9:03 am

        Thank you for the tips alexaludeman.. Sorry it has been a while…🤓

  6. March 18, 2016 1:51 pm

    I Just finished a sweater knit in a tube in a garter rib stitch. I’m not sure how to block it to even the stitches out. Could you please advise me?

  7. Connie permalink
    December 22, 2015 7:02 am

    I block with my steam iron. Is this method better?

    • December 22, 2015 10:17 pm

      Blocking with steam can work well too, we just prefer to wet-block because it is very effective and thorough. Also, it is the method you will use after you hand-wash your knits.

  8. Diane Therrien permalink
    December 4, 2015 12:49 pm

    If I rinse my wool scarf in a bit of lanolin, will it soften it? Is it advised? How much lanolin in a sink of water? Does acrylic knitting need blocking, or can you just iron it? Thank you,

    • December 22, 2015 10:20 pm

      I’m not aware whether adding lanolin will soften a wool scarf. I have heard that using hair conditioner can help. Sorry I also have very little experience blocking acrylic. I don’t believe wet-blocking will have much of an effect, but I could be wrong… You’re probably more experienced than I am in that regard. I’d simply try it and see.

  9. Lillian permalink
    November 8, 2015 8:50 am

    The edges of my croched scarf roll up…Is there some way I can flatten that area without blocking?

    • November 11, 2015 3:11 am

      Not really! I’d suggest you try blocking. Some kinds of stitch patterns in knitting and crochet have an innate tendency to roll, and blocking can help with this, but the fabric will eventually roll, it’s just a matter of time, with these kinds of patterns.

  10. Katie McKenzie permalink
    October 9, 2015 7:19 am

    Hi Alexa,
    When should I sew buttons on my Antler Cardigan – before or after blocking?

    • October 13, 2015 2:52 pm

      Hi Katie – I usually do it after, when my button bands are blocked and even.

  11. Marjorie permalink
    September 6, 2015 3:19 am

    Hello, thanks for all the tips and tutorials you post, they are really helpful. I knitted the MALT blanket but it’s not the first time I had a problem while blocking. I think the stitches ar too stretched and I can see the carpet underneath through them. I’m afraid it will not be as pretty as it was before I blocked it.Do you have a tip for avoiding over stretching? I don’t know if I’m clear enough, english is not my first language.

    • September 7, 2015 9:05 am

      Hi Marjorie – When you are blocking you want to make sure you are laying your item flat, not stretching it (lace is a bit of a different story). Since Malt is a worsted weight blanket it can get pretty heavy when wet so you want to make sure you squeeze out as much water as possible, it will probably take rolling it in a towel and squeezing out the water a few times to really get the bulk of the water out. When you lay it out try not to stretch it, if it does seem too stretchy try to smoosh it back into place.

  12. Norma Fairbairn permalink
    April 27, 2015 9:23 am

    one more thing please …pattern instructs me to join shoulders and pick up sts…before or after blocking?
    it doesn;t say

    • April 28, 2015 12:21 pm

      I would join shoulders and pick up before blocking, because I would want to block that seam later. Good question though

  13. Norma Fairbairn permalink
    April 27, 2015 9:11 am

    i am completing a baby dress ,st/st so the bottom edge wants to roll up will pins make a straight edge? ,how far apart should the pins be set? GREAT BLOG btw

    • April 28, 2015 12:22 pm

      Well, as a rule, I don’t think you can possibly ‘over pin’ so maybe 1.5 inches apart? Pinning will straighten some things out, but if it’s a stockinette edge it will still roll a bit, it’s the nature of the fabric. If you want a straight edge I would do a garter st or ribbed border.

  14. C Cooley permalink
    March 6, 2015 11:38 am

    I did not notice any instructions regarding raised stitches such as cables but do you block the garter stitch borders?

    • March 9, 2015 3:34 pm

      We block them the same way, sometimes more aggressively to really show the sts

  15. Beth Duder permalink
    January 3, 2015 10:10 pm

    #2. You say press out the bubbles.please elaborate.

    • January 5, 2015 6:33 pm

      Hi Beth

      I’m not quite sure how to elaborate. You are literally pressing on the garment so the bubbles come out.

  16. Beth Duder permalink
    December 28, 2014 11:30 pm

    How do you press out bubbles when your knitting is submerged in soapy water?

    • December 29, 2014 5:57 pm

      Hmm, I’m not sure what you mean, I usually use a wool wash that doesn’t need to be rinsed out and press with my hands. Does that help?

  17. December 9, 2014 6:47 am

    If you are knitting a wool cowl and it has a design “roll”on each end, how do you block it? Do you”unroll” it and pin it??? Or do you leave the roll? If you pIn it straight will the “roll” snap back when dry?

    • December 12, 2014 9:06 am

      It doesn’t really matter too much, since it will roll back no matter what you do. I would pin it out to even out the sts.

  18. Pepperpot permalink
    December 5, 2014 6:14 am

    Instead of stomping in a ‘towel protection’, couldn’t you protect it in a pillowcase and spin it?

    • December 12, 2014 9:07 am

      I wouldn’t, tends to mash up your knitting and sometimes it stretches different parts in different ways.

  19. This Little Blue Homestead permalink
    November 11, 2014 12:59 pm

    Reblogged this on This Little Blue Homestead and commented:
    Reading up on Blocking to decide what to do about the Christmas presents that are ‘flying’ off my needles

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

      • Pat permalink
        May 5, 2016 9:08 am

        Thank you for all this advice! I have been knitting for over 20 years and like you at first…why block? Now I do too…really helps and I have always used the towel method, never in a washer…no no.

        Have a good day.

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. 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.


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