Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blocking is Magic

So many people are afraid or intimidated by blocking when it is one of the techniques in knitting that is so easy to do. I think that is because that we use a specialized term instead of actually saying what it is we are doing. Blocking is simply washing your knitting and then laying it out to dry.

I think the reason why people (especially beginners) are afraid of blocking is that it is an extra step and people talk about how hard it is to block out shawls and other lacy things. I think that it is always a good thing to wash your knitting before you wear it (the exception for me is socks, they go straight on the feet) so it isn't really an extra step. It gets rid of all that extra dirt and evens out the stitches so that everything looks nice and neat.

The second point about blocking out lace is unfounded as long as you know what you are doing. Blocking lace is really extremely easy and simple to do. To prove that point, I'm going to walk you through it step by step.

First, you want to fill up your sink with warm water. Since my mom and I got a bottle of Soak wool wash, I like to squirt a little of that into the sink after the water has finished running and swish it around. That way it doesn't create lots of suds and because Soak is a brand of non-rinse wool wash I don't have to soak the shawl twice. 

I then lay my project on top of the water like it shows in the picture above. Yes, just sit it on top of the water and don't press it down. When the shawl sinks to the bottom that means it is completely wet and the water has penetrated all of the fiber.

 Leave it there for about 15 minutes or so and then it will look something like the picture above. It is completely wet. At this stage the fabric is really, really stretchy so be careful lifting it out of the water. You don't want to accidentally drag your nice clean project all over the floor.

 I do squeeze as much water as I can out of the project over the sink. Then I take a couple of towels and wrap my project up in it. Then I stand on the towel bundle. I figure if I can apply so much force with my hands, imagine what gravity can do with all of my weight.

After this last squeeze the project is still damp, but it isn't dripping everywhere. That is when the "difficult part" of blocking lace comes in.

 My mom has a set of blocking wires, but I still have to go through and thread the wires through the garter stitch bumps of the boarder. That took around 45 minutes to do so on each side. The shawl was still damp enough to let me go ahead and pin out the points at each end to keep the ends nice and scalloped. I pinned out the points quite drastically, but you could also use more pins and shape the scallops into nice gentle curves.

This is where the magic happens. You basically pin it out to the shape you want it to be and then you let it dry. I did it on the kitchen table because it has a nice fan overhead that I switched on. It was dry when I went to check on it an hour later, but it might not have even taken that long to dry.

When it was dry I went ahead and unpinned everything. The result is a shawl that was as long and wide as I wanted it to be. The stitches look even, the eyelets are nicely spaced out and "opened up" so you can see the lace pattern easier. The scallops are nice and pointy. And it is nice, clean, and oh so soft!

I have to wait until tomorrow before I can send it out so my fiance can help me with some more pictures. Hopefully, my friend Rebecca loves it as much as I loved making it for her. Now that the weather is turning cooler it will be perfect for tossing around her shoulders or neck to chase away the chill of the evening.


  1. Blocking does make a HUGE difference :) Thanks for sharing your process. I am planning to block a few things in the next couple days and placing it under a fan is something I hadn't thought of :)

    1. You're quite welcome. I didn't even realize that the kitchen had a fan until after I pinned everything out. So, it was a bonus feature for blocking on the kitchen table.

      I also block in the bathroom because that is where we have our washer and dryer. I find that even when the knits are on top of the dryer, just having something dry in the dryer makes the room dryer and helps speed up the process without the worry of the cats laying on the project or my family moving it around.