I've gotten a few questions about my blocking process, so here we go. For those of you who don't know, blocking is a way of pressing out knitting when it is done. It is essential for a good-looking knit.
There is no wrong way to block! This is just how I do it.
Order of Blocking
- If it's knitted flat, I block before seaming and before any collar or button band. I don't weave in the ends that will be near the seam, because the seam will be a nice place to hide them.
- Once my knitted flat pieces are seamed after the first block, I knit the collars and button bands. In a second blocking session, I block only those.
- If it's knitted in-the-round, I block only after I've finished the entire garment and woven in the ends.
My #1 Favorite Method
To block something, you need to get it wet in some way. I always start by pinning my pieces out dry. I have found that if I soak a piece before pinning, it stretches unnaturally and is hard to maneuver or keep symmetrical.
EXCEPTIONS (see below): Circular knits, pieces that are way smaller than you want, 100% acrylic.
Use strong pins with nice round heads. Made sure they don't rust! Don't say I didn't warn you.
T-pins are nice, but I find they are quite tough and you need a really good blocking surface because they are so thick. I pin onto a thin sisal living room rug.
|No, this cutie isn't mine, nor is this rug -- I'm just making sure you are paying attention|
You can use anything soft and flat that will accept a pin into it and keep it there.
|Got your attention there, didn't I??|
(For the record, I'm not a blocking wire fan. I find they take eons to set up and you can usually accomplish all of it with loose pins. But if I had a really fine lace that needed to be killer straight, I would use them.)
I should get me one of those puzzle piece mats that are popular for blocking, because you can store them.
When pinning parts that curl (like stockinette pieces), add lots and lots of pins to avoid a scalloped edge.
|This is my Buckland, read more here.|
For parts you want to stretch the bejeebers out of (like lace), put your pins in diagonally, opposite to the direction of stretch -- they'll never spring out.
|This is my Strawberry Collar, read more here.|
|This is my Sequin Stellaria, read more here.|
Avoid pinning ribbing -- you want it to remain stretchy, not be blocked out and floppy. You can see here that I pinned just to keep the edge down, but didn't touch the ribbing and let it hang naturally.
|This is my Foxy Friedrich, read more here.|
Spray with a spray bottle. I make sure to completely soak the edges/hems/collars, but only lightly spray the interior pieces.
|My trusty dollar store spray bottle, it must be seven years old.|
If you'd like some scent, add a spritz of your favorite perfume.
If you'd like some lanolin support for your wool, add some no-rinse wool wash, like Eucalan. Your spray bottle will get foamy inside, so you might have to release the air once in a while.
Wait until fully dry. It should come off the blocking surface like a smooth piece of cardboard, all stitches even and flat.
My #2 Sometimes Method
Technique #1 breaks down with circular seamless knits. You can't ever spray the bottom side as well as the top, so you might as well soak the piece first. You can use a wool wash or just cool water. Wring out the excess in some towels and pin it out as symmetrical as you can, avoiding stretching it unnaturally.
|This is my Anatolia, read more here.|
If it's alpaca or superwash wool, be especially careful with stretch (it will not go back). I try not to use wool wash in these cases, it makes the fabric even softer and stretchier. I had a near disaster with my madtosh merino light Hair Cell Sweater, read more here.
My #3 I-Need-To-Block-This-NOW Method
Sometimes you just need something yesterday. A gift, a deadline, a party you simply must wear the cardigan to TONIGHT... In this case, take out your steam iron.
Pin out your pieces dry, angling the pins outward so that you have full access to the wool. Fill the iron with water, set it to it's steamiest, most romantic setting, and slowly hover the iron over your piece, letting the steam get into the fabric.
After I have steamed for awhile, I lay a towel over it to let it settle, cool and dry. It won't take long -- just enough time to finish up your make-up for the party. ;) Use this method especially for hard blocks (stretching to force a larger piece) or 100% acrylic and get the fabric really hot. Steam blocking does a good job, but never as complete and lovely as a good long wet block, in my opinion.