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Blocking your knitting- Vol 1: Wet Blocking

January 12, 2011


Often when you are finished knitting you find yourself with a piece that is not quite how you imagined or doesn't fit as well as you had hoped. All the knitting down the drain you think as you plan to frog your project. Wait- All you really need is to properly block your knitted project. Wet blocking will bring out the details in lace, adjust fitting issues and show off the cables to best effect. Wet blocking is simple and to those detail-oriented folks, immensely satisfying.

To start you will need:
 a big bowl or clean sink of cool water
 a dry towel bigger than your project (go for double the size)
 some T pins
 a ruler
 a blocking board

wet block sink.jpg

Start by fully submerging your knitting in the water and gently (especially for wool-you don't want to felt it) squeeze to saturate every fiber. You will probably see air bubbles escape. Then leave your knitting in the water for 20-30 min. Drain the sink or bowl slowly and then carefully squeeze out extra water. Don't wring the fabric, just lightly squeeze.

wet block towel.jpg

wet block roll.jpg

Lay out your towel on a flat surface and open it fully if needed to accommodate your project or fold it in half width wise for small pieces. Carefully lay out your piece on the towel and gently shape it so it is laying flat. Roll up your towel until the whole towel is rolled up. Apply gentle pressure to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Unroll your towel and lift your piece on to your blocking board. Start by pinning the major corners or points of your piece  (for a shawl the top 2 corners, for a sweater the shoulders and neck line). Using a ruler gradually add more pins until your piece is fully pinned and shaped to your satisfaction.

wet block ruler.jpg

wet block pinned.JPG

Now comes the hard part: waiting. Put your blocking board in indirect light so it will not fade but will use the warmth to help it dry faster. You must wait until your piece is FULLY dry. Don't pull out those pins until you are very sure it is dry and then wait a little longer. The bigger the piece the longer the wait. It is worth the wait since you will be rewarded with a beautiful piece of knitting that fit better and looks amazing. 

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7 Comments

Where can I find a blocking board? I made a wonderful tunic with yarn I bought on sale at Fabric.com (Rowan's Cashsoft) and I haven't finished it because I want to block the pieces before I sew it together. It is very lacy, but really needs to be blocked to look its best. Thank you.

Knitpicks has blocking boards that look exactly like the ones used in the above photos (www.knitpicks.com). I am in the same boat, knitting a lacy sweater out of alpaca/silk blend yarn. It sure looks a mess when it is on the needles and really does need to be blocked to make the lace lie properly.
rcn93q

I've never seen blocking done this way. I've been taught to pin the item onto a blocking board and then use a spray bottle or a steam iron held about an inch or so above the knitting, but never saturating the piece, unless you're felting it. I've used the spray bottle method with fine results. I'd be concerned about the tpins rusting, also.

There are several ways of blocking, this is only one. The pins are rust free (you must be sure of that before you use any pins) and are usually labeled as such. I am blogging about blocking in volumes to make sure and cover all the different ways of blocking. Each method is suited to different fibers. Steam blocking (your way) is up next, in Feb I think.

Thanks for the clarification, Tara! I always look forward to your blog articles.

When I have to roll and squeeze things in a towel (blocking, dyeing, hand washing), I lay the roll on a trashbag on the floor and just step all over it. I have just enough athritis in my hands to make squeezing painful, and using my feet is faster since all my body weight gets into it. I once had a sewing student who would put the roll inside a trashbag and drive her car back and forth over it! :-)

Good tip and the car bit is hilarious!

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This page contains a single entry by published on January 12, 2011 2:06 PM.

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