The Importance of Blocking

I either steam or block practically everything I knit and crochet (except for that which I felt). Today I want to talk about blocking, which is my usual method of finishing an object. Blocking is a process of wetting a knitted object then pinning or stuffing it to the shape and size you want it to end up as. This helps the piece end up in the size and shape you want, and it also improves the look of your stitches, making them look more even. All this is especially important for lace shawls. I'm going to take you through my blocking process, and then show you a few before-and-after shots.

My Blocking Process
My blocking process is based mostly on this book (I think I used a different edition to the one here). So here's what I do:
 You will need:
  • Finished object
  • Access to heated water
  • Dressmaker's pins, plastic shopping bags, or blocking templates (e.g. "sock blockers")
  • Tub large enough to fit your object comfortably
  • Laundry detergent
  • Towel
  • Ironing board (for a small object) or an area of vacuumed carpet
Procedure:
  1. Fill tub with luke warm water. Add a splash of laundry detergent.
  2. Put knitted object in the water. Make sure it is thoroughly wet. For a woollen object, be careful not to move it around too much as it may felt.
  3. Tip the water out of tub, letting it drain away from the object. You can squeeze more water out of the object but make sure you don't stretch it or wring it.
  4. Fill the water with luke warm water and put object in it again to rinse.
  5. Repeat step 3
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 at least twice more
  7. Put the object on the towel. Fold the towel over the top of the object and roll it up, to squeeze as much water out as possible. If you like, walk all over the towel or do a bumdance on it.
  8. Take the object out of the towel. If you want to block it flat, pin it out to shape onto an ironing board (if it fits) or clean carpet. If you want to block it to a 3-dimensional shape (like I often do for beanies and socks), either fit it over blocking templates or stuff it with plastic bags.
  9. When it is dry, unpin/unstuff it and it's done!
So that's my version. knitty.com have a fantastic guide about blocking and steaming different kinds of fibre. I just wanted to finish up by showing you some of my finished objects before and after blocking.

In my very first blog post, I mentioned that I was making my mother a shawl for Christmas. Well, I finished and blocked it. I'm not sure if the photo does the blocking justice, but here is a before shot:
 And here is an after shot:
If you're wondering about why I changed to bronze for the edging, it's because I ran out of the blue yarn (it was a spool of machine-knitting yarn which had once belonged to my Grandma). It's a shame that the bronze lurex I picked doesn't really block that well, so the edge doesn't have the sharp points that it otherwise would have had.

My second object is made from the yarn I featured in my last post, for all you...reader, out there. I was worried that any finished object made from that yarn would end up lopsided because the yarn was unbalanced. So, I beat it to the punch and made a lopsided object. That way, if it was made more lopsided by the yarn, you wouldn't be able to tell. I made a short scarf from this yarn, using a very simple mesh lace pattern. It was the first time I had blocked wool, so I was worried it would felt (further than it did in the yarn-finishing process) but it seemed okay. Here is a before shot:
And a close-up:
Here is a picture of it blocking on the carpet:
Here is an after shot (closeup, the long shots turned out blurry):
So, yeah...it might be hard to see the difference. To be honest sometimes I can't see much difference either, but I made a conscious decision when I first started knitting to finish my knitting projects, for any benefit that might come from it. I wanted to do it right if I was going to do it at all.

As for this scarf, it was very short, so after I wove in the ends, I added a couple of buttons and voilĂ !

The buttons I used are from my button collection. They were either my Grandma's or from another deceased estate collection I inherited from a friend's mother-in-law. They've got prancing deer on them and I think they may well be made from real deer antlers (when I finish this blog post I'm going to look up whether deer antler buttons are a thing). Here is a close-up of one of the buttons:

 Enjoy!

The Knitted Kitten 

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