Today I wanted to talk a bit about Blocking, and how it applies to knitting projects. I have been knitting for years, but blocking is relatively new to me. I had never really had a need to block items I had made, until I started knitting lace items. Most of the items I have knit have been sweaters, hats, and baby blankets for kids in need using 100% acrylic yarn. The first lace scarf I had made, the pattern pointed out that it needed to be blocked after I had finished it, to spread out the knitting, and to make it lay flat, and to loosen up the YO’s (Yarn Over’s). I have also read that it is good to block wool items.
Lace definitely needs to be blocked, so that it will lay flat and to loosen up yarn overs, I have also found that blocking some wool items (especially that have stockinette edges) is a good idea, where as with others you can lay it flat to dry, (if you use a garter stitch edging especially), Blocking involves pinning the edges of garments down to towels or a blocking board, and there are blocking wires out there as well. I don’t have a blocking board or blocking wires. For as much blocking as I do, I have found that straight pins and old bath towels, and a flat surface work well if you don’t want to (or can’t afford to) invest in blocking wires and a blocking board. Pretty much everything I make that needs to be blocked are personal projects, which I don’t make less of than projects for kids in need.
Blocking is the process in which you shape a knit/crocheted item using water, and letting it dry. There are different methods to blocking. My usual method of blocking, is wet blocking by which the item is washed (according to the washing directions on the label), and then shaped, and tacked down to dry.
I blocked my most recent infinity scarf before I seamed (or sewed up) the two ends together. I blocked it mainly because of the pattern I used, and I wanted it to lay flat rather than rolling, as it was doing while I was knitting it. So I put it in the washing machine (yes I use the washing machine with wool), I put it on the gentlest setting (which is the hand wash setting on my machine), put it on a rinse cycle with cold water, and added a little bit of Euclan Wrapture wool wash before I pinned it to old bath towels to dry. If I didn’t have an HE washing machine without an agitator, I would hand wash anything I knit in the sink. I do not recommend putting wool or any hand knit item in a washing machine with an agitator.
I learned about washing wool and cashmere while working at my previous job, where we washed all of the items we knit, most of which were washed after linking, though a few were washed before linking. It was in part to wash the wax and chemicals that were applied to them to make them easier to use with a knitting machine off.
There are a lot of resources out there, videos, blogs and such with instructions on how to block your knit items. I will post a few of the resources below.
How to Block: