When folks ask us if they should block something, our answer is always an emphatic YES. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hat, scarf, or even a pair of socks. Blocking is the final step in finishing your knit project, and in my opinion, is something that should never be skipped. It will help even out your stitches, relax the yarn and encourage drape, and in some cases will transform your project into an entirely different look (such as blocking lace).
I like to think of blocking as washing before wearing. If you think about all the places your project has been laying around while you worked on it, you’ll want to wash it, right? You’ll follow these same steps to wash your knit item in the future. Blocking is one of my favorite parts of the knitting process, and I typically get my knits washed and blocked as soon as I finish casting off!
There are three main methods of blocking – wet blocking, steam blocking, and spray blocking. If your pattern recommends a method, then you should use that method. My preferred method is wet blocking and it’s also the most common, so we’ll concentrate on that in this tutorial.
Blocking is also something that should be done when you start a project – with your gauge swatch, that is. Because blocking can affect your gauge and transform the knit fabric, it’s good to have that knowledge of how something will block BEFORE you start the project. When knitting a garment, I always wash and block the gauge swatch. There are actually some yarns that are not washed as part of the manufacturing process, so washing them through blocking will reveal their true gauge.
Blocking is also commonly done with garment pieces prior to sewing up the seams. It’s much easier to sew sweater pieces after they are blocked and the edges are even and flat. Generally, this will be indicated in the pattern – but if you ever find yourself struggling to match up a seam evenly, consider a quick blocking!
First, you’ll need a few supplies:
Now that you’ve gathered supplies, we’re ready to start!
Obviously, some items will need no pinning and others – like a lace shawl – will require precision measuring, gentle stretching, and hundreds of pins to hold it in the desired shape until dry. Blocking wires are an optional tool, too, and are generally used for establishing straight even edges in lace knitting.
That’s it – hope this easy explanation motivates you to block everything from now on. If you just think of it as a quick wash, it won’t seem so daunting. Next time you cast off, I encourage you to head right to the sink and get your project soaking!
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