I thought it might be useful to write about how to block different items that you have knitted or crocheted.
Some people hate to block garments. I get it, there is nothing more frustrating than having the excitement of getting to the end of crocheting or knitting something to find that you have to wait another couple of days to wear / use it because it is blocking.
No matter how careful I am when I’m working on something, it has invariably been screwed up / scrunched up / folded, etc. So that’s why I’m a BIG fan of blocking. I think it really finishes off your work and gets everything neat and orderly and as it should be.
So what is blocking and how should you do it?
There are a few different types of blocking and the best one to use will depend on the item / yarn, etc. Some yarn won’t like getting soaked, or patterns such as ribbing may lose definition if you wet-block. You can still block these items using a steam iron to gently pull it into shape.
For most of the things I make, I use wet-blocking, although I tend not to use too many expensive yarns like cashmere!
To wet-block something you will need:
You can buy special blocking mats, they normally come in small squares which lock together. They are good for blocking small items and store easily. If you want to make anything bigger, you can investigate lower-cost options. Children’s foam play-mats are good. I also have a yoga-mat that I use to roll up, really you just need something thin and foam that you can stick some pins into!
These are fairly inexpensive pins which you use to pin the item to the shape that it should be. Its worth getting a fairly-large pack if possible as you’ll probably need more than you realise!
Its a bad idea to “wring” out woollen items as it tends to distort the stitch pattern. Instead, rolling it up in towels will help remove most of the water before blocking it.
Water and washing liquid
The water is essential, the washing liquid is optional. In the past I’ve used normal washing
liquid (the kind for your washer not the kind for your dishes!) and this works fine, Don’t forget to rinse it out though! Recently I’ve discovered “Eucalan” though, which is a delicate wash liquid. Anything to save time in this phase (I’m normally very impatient at waiting for something to block!) and this doesn’t need to be rinsed-out. You could also use just water (no liquid) if you wanted to, but personally I like to give it a bit of a wash after all that hard work being crocheted / knitted!
I tend to block small-items in the sink. Larger ones might need putting in the bath though!
How to do it…
Once you’ve checked that the yarn you’ve used is going to be OK with wet-blocking, it’s really very simple indeed.
Step 1: Fill sink / bath with luke-warm water and add washing liquid (if using)
Step 2: Put item in the water and gently squish around so that the water saturates, don’t be too rough, especially if the item is delicate.
Step 3: Leave to soak for 10-15 minutes so that the water can get into the fibres properly. You can leave it longer if you want to but as I say, I’m too impatient!!
Step 4: Gently squeeze out as much of the excess water as possible without wringing
Step 5: Lay the item on top of a towel and roll the towel up, squeezing at each roll. You may need to repeat this step a couple of times (and with another towel!) if the item still feels fairly wet.
Step 6: Lay item on blocking mat and gently pull to shape and pin into position.
Note: If you are blocking something that is going to be worn (like a cardigan / jumper) you need to pay attention at this stage to the finished-garment measurements on the pattern. You should pull and pin until it reaches the required size (eg if sleeve says that it should be 20cm circumference (10cm each side) at cuffs, make sure that the sleeve measures 10cm between blocking pins. If you don’t, you could end up with something which is a lot bigger or smaller than you intended!
If you are blocking something lacy, (like a lace shawl) gently pull and block until you are happy that the pattern looks even and not distorted in either way.
Step 7: Leave item on blocking mat until completely dry. This could take a few days if the weather is cold / the yarn is thick but its worth the wait!
Note: Be aware that most items will shrink-back slightly when they are drying so keep an eye on the blocking pins and make sure that its not pulling out too much and making an uneven edge. If it is, just reposition the blocking pin slightly.
As above, you will need blocking mat and pins, you will also need a steam iron.
Step 1: Simply lay your item out on a blocking mat and gently hover the steam-iron over the surface.
Note: Make sure that you don’t touch the surface of your item as it may melt / distort some yarn.
Step 2 – Gently pull the item out to the desired size / pattern and pin in place.
Step 3: Using a Steam iron will get the item slightly wet (although not as wet as Wet Blocking!) so as above, leave item on blocking mats until it is completely dry.
Good luck, Hope blocking works as well for you as it does for me! 🙂