Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Art of Blocking Finished Knits

I had alot of anxiety regarding blocking when I was going to try my first time.  I read and checked various blogs.  I compared and looked for answers and ultimately said oh what the H@@@  let's give it a try.

I tried and what do you know it worked.  Each time I block my scarves or sweaters I get better at it.  In order to block you really don't need anything special.  I thought today after looking at some finished knitted projects that I would try to give my advice to the art of blocking.  After all you only need a few pins to start. The pins that don't have the meltable colored balls on top are the best. Trust me from experience. 

The first important thing to remember is what type of fiber are you working with.  Each fiber reacts individually to blocking and it is important to determine if blocking is right for your fiber.  For example, when blocking cotton, I tend to pin it out and then steam it with my iron lightly - I stress lightly - you are not ironing it.  If you are working with a merino or wool, I tend to put the item in a knit garment bag (got one at the dollar store) and throw it in the washer - on delicate cycle with a little woolite or other gentle cleanser.  Make sure you do not use hot or warm water!!!!  Very Important.   Then when it is done.  Pull it out and start to pin. 

Pin to what you ask.  You really don't need one of those terrific boards (although knitpicks and webs has some really nice ones).  I use my ironing board (get an alternate pad) or my counter, table with a towel.  I don't tend to measure and check and measure and pin.  I tend to use my eyes but you can do the alternate pinning measuring and so on if you choose.  The most important thing is to remember what you are trying to achieve with blocking.  If you want to elongate the stitches then pull length wise.  I mean pull that is the point.  My friend calls it aggresively blocking.  If you want to widen the stitches then pull width wise.  An example of useing the art of pulling in the right way is my MoonLight shawl -

For this shawl what I wanted was a circular motion.  I achieved this by pulling lengthwise and equally pulling width wise.  I first pin one end.  Then move down the shawl a little at a time and stretch length wise and width wise.  Each time I adjust the pins to make sure I am achieving the look I want.  Once done , this was the result.  If you are working on a lacy open shawl scarf or sweater, the point to remember is everywhere there is a hole on the edge stick a pin.  The point is to accentuate the details of the lace not just flatten it.  The holes (or eyelets) add detail and should create a flowing dainty look.  For example -

Look at Raindrop and see the gentle waves on the top fo the shawl.  This is achieve by placing the pins on the point you want to pop out.  Then I place additional pins to create the gentle swoop instead of a sharp edge. 

Hope this helps a little with the blocking.  If you are in doubt with how to do it, create some swatches with different shapes and patterns and give it a go.  You may be pleasantly surprise how fun and thrilling it is!!


Renee said...

Great post!
I love seeing knits transform when blocked. :)

DariceMoore said...

I so wish I'd seen this before I blocked my Moonlight... and yet, I figured out that width was important in getting the circles. (Also it would have helped if my gauge hadn't loosened as I went...) ;) Thanks for a lovely pattern and a fine knitting experience. :)