How to: Blocking

I talked out blocking with a non-knitter the other day. She has something handknit and needs it to get back into it’s original shape. I suggested re-blocking it and went straight into the discussion without realizing that my friend had no idea what I was talking about. In the end I offered to re-block it for her which she gladly accepted. But, it got me thinking that maybe a blog post about blocking and how I do it would be in order. Luckily it so happened that I had something that needed blocking right away so it all worked out well.

Now please remember, this is the way I do it, there are probably as many ways to block as there are knitters. Try it in different ways and work out what way works best for you.

So why do I block? Well, it tidies stitches up, it makes lace pop (and no longer ressemble withered lettue) and francly, it cleans the knitting. If you’re like me and bring your knitting everywhere it might need a little cleaning up.

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So, step 1 is to finish the knitting. I know it is possible to block while the needles are still in place but I’ve never tried it. Also, people seem to have opinions about wether or not to weave in ends before blocking but I don’t have any opinions at all about that. Sometimes I weave in ends before and sometimes after, mosly depending on how much time I have.

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Step 2. Fill a sink or a bathtub with luke warm water and add some non-rinse soap (that has totally changed my world, non-rinse soap. Not just for knitting but when I need to wash something up in a hurry or whatever). Put you knitting in the water.

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Step 3. While your knitting is soaking, prepare the place to block. I have play mats that work perfectly for blocking, they are soft and water resistent and they work as a big jigsaw puzzle so you can put them in any shape you want. There are other ways too. A friend of mine put a towel on her bed (works best if you have alternate sleeping accomodations or if you put a shawl to block in the morning so it’s dry by the evening when it’s time to go to bed), my mum put a towel on her basement floor (she had wall to wall carpeting but has changed that now. I wonder what she will do with her blocking now…) and I used to use a carpet before I got my play mats.

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Step 4. When the knitting has been soaking for at least fifteen minutes, pick it up from the sink as a whole without dropping any ends and gently squeeze out the water.

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Step 5. Again as a whole, bring the still wet knitting to a towel.

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Step 6. Roll up the towel with the knitting inside and squeeze out some more water. My tip here is to step on the towel as that will put more pressure on than my hands can make.

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Step 7. This depends a little on what your object is. Mine happen to be a rectangular lace shawl which requires quite a lot of blocking but a baby sweater or a pair of socks might require only that you pat them down a bit. But, back to the shawl. Measure out the corners, a lot of patterns tells you in what measurements object will end up, and pin them down.

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Step 8. Working evenly over the knitting, pin out the sides to the correct measurements. Sometimes your knitting will not be the same measurements the pattern states so don’t worry if you have to do some changes. This knitting, as it often happens, turned out on the small side so I had to pin it down four inches less on the width and the height respectively. This and the following step in the process requires some pulling. The knitting, provided it’s made from natural fibers, can take this, it’s very stretchy, but don’t pull so hard the thread breaks.

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Step 9. Once the general shape of the knitting is pinned out you can start pinning out the rest. This shawl has little points along the sides and each point is pinned out. Had the sides been straight it would have required more needles or blocking wires to keep straight lines.

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Step 10. Take a step back and take a look at your work and adjust if necessary. Now go do something else, like knit, while your project is drying. Once it’s dry, remove the pins, weave in ends (if you still have any) and enjoy your new project.