Blocking is really wonderful for knit garments. It evens out stitches and softens the knit; the yarn relaxes and lace opens to show its full beauty. In other words the knit transforms.
When to Block? All animal fibers should be blocked. Plant fibers (cotton, linen, bamboo, rayon) may also be blocked although they respond less dramatically than the animal fibers. Synthetic fibers (e.g.acrylic, nylon) are not blocked unless blended with a natural fiber.
How to Block a Knit
- Time and patience: A sweater or shawl will take several hours to wash and pin out. Sometimes you may need to redo parts or all to insure everything is well aligned and matched.
- Prepare garment: It is best to block a garment before seaming. This makes the washing and seaming easier. Work in ends if they are in the middle of a piece. If ends are on the edges leave these to work in after the garment is seamed. If this is a circular knit the garment is finished completely and then washed and blocked.
|Mats like this with 1inch
square grid are great for laying out sweater parts. Mat and wires |
Available at Kiwi’s
3. Assemble equipment:
· Blocking board or surface: This will stay in place until the garment dries so make sure it is not in the way and children or pets cannot walk on it or pick up any pins for their safety. Make sure the surface can hold all the pieces or garment. It is really hard to block over an edge and will make a mark in the knitting.
· Sink or tub for washing and access to hot water.
· Shampoo or a gentle soap. Do not use Woolite or dishwashing liquid for wool. Both of these are too harsh and can damage the wool fibers. White vinegar may also be needed.
· Pins and maybe blocking wires – see below for more information on these.
· Two Measuring tapes. Sometimes a yard stick is also handy.
· Steamer or steam iron.
4. Soak in hand hot water for at least 20 minutes. Use a small amount of shampoo or a gentle soap. No need to agitate. Also soak to rinse. I usually rinse three times using white vinegar for protein fibers only in the second rinse to neutralize the soap. Amount of vinegar depends on the amount water. I use about 1 tbs/gallon – guessed, not measured. Some knitters believe leaving a little bit of soap in without complete rinsing may discourage bugs.
5. Remove excess water: Squeeze out the water. Do not twist or wring. If there is a lot of water, roll up the pieces or garment in a towel. Then press firmly on the towel.
6. Lay out each piece on a blocking board. A clean carpet or bed may work for larger items. Smooth out the garment to its full size without stretching.
7. Align each piece with a straight edge either on the blocking board or use a measuring tape and pin for a straight line you can work from. Do this for the long edges. Shorter edges you can usually tell by looking. I don’t do this with shaped sleeves – I check just by looking and measuring.
8. Measure the sides and top and bottom to make sure they are all even (unless they are not supposed to be). Make sure both fronts and sleeves are the same measurements-again if they are supposed to be. Check these measurements against your gauge and the planned or pattern finished sizes.