Blocking

ManMadeKnits's picture

Okay, I hope I don't terrify anyone with this, but I've never really blocked anything.

I was never taught how to block, so it's kinda this mysterious art that makes other people's stuff turn out better looking than mine. With the advent of the completion of my first sweater (After a 3-month hiatus) I want to make sure it at least looks like a valiant effort even if it doesn't fit. And as well, for hats, scarves, etc. Need Help!

Post away!

Comments

Tallguy's picture

I've said it many times, and

I've said it many times, and been severely criticized for doing it, but every piece of knitting (EVERY piece!!) needs to be blocked.

Now, by blocking, I don't mean a cycle through the machine, as others have already pointed out. It means using moisture to process the knitting. You can dunk into warm soapy water, or just steam. It's all the same thing: moisture into the yarns.

You can also lay damp towels on the knitted items and they will also re-adjust themselves. Yes, it's true that the knitting then becomes a bit more even and the tension adjusts itself. You can also shape your knitting by laying flat (scarves, sweaters), or stuff shapers into them (socks, hats or sweaters) or you can stretch and pin into place (lace).

Of course, this is only for wool and animal fibres. Cotton and plant fibres will always benefit as well, but there really is no hope at all for acrylic/nylon/polyester/synthetics.

BuduR's picture

It was a full year after I

It was a full year after I learned to knit that I first heard the word blocking and did a massive internet search to find out what it was and why it should be done. Now I block everything. Heck I'd block the cat if I had one!

MWK's Token Estrogen-American

MMario's picture

Been there, done that, the

Been there, done that, the cat did not like it - I eventually recovered.

MMario - ambiguity is cultivated, it doesn't happen in a vacuum!

BuduR's picture

But does he look

But does he look better?
MWK's Token Estrogen-American

kiwiknitter's picture

I had never blocked anything

I had never blocked anything until I started to do stranded knitting and with that type of knitting I feel it's required. I quit knitting flat and in pieces; it's difficult to block a seamless garment. Washing can make a difference: it evens-out stitches and will often soften the wool by plumping it up. In addition, with the Shetland knitting wools, it locks strand ends in place. I follow what Albert recommends; it's important to let the garment sit in the water for a while so that the fibers actually soak up the water (and soap if used). I have a front loader washing machine with a special woollens cycle which I use without problems.

Knit like the wind!

trpc's picture

I refused to block items,

I refused to block items, but now I'm changing my ways. It makes them seem finished. and the texture always seems better. Block On!

scubasinger's picture

One caveat: When the guys

One caveat: When the guys are saying 'wash', they do NOT mean in a washing machine!!! SOME acrylic and cotton yarns will stand up to that, but wool most def will NOT. It will create the fabric known as felt...dense, stiff...not what you want in a sweater.

Wash in this sense means to put in a basin of warm, soapy water, swish it around a bit (the sweater, not you!! (grin!)), let it sit for a bit, swish, drain, rinse. The key is gentle, gentle, gentle. Any aggressive agitation will cause the little wool fibers to start liking each other too much. They'll lock together and never separate.

albert's picture

I belong to the wash and

I belong to the wash and block school. I find that letting a wool article soak in warm "soapy" water for a while relaxes the fabric and gives the stitches a chance to get comfortable with each other- sort of a knit-wear jacuzzi party. Then a second bath in cool clear rinse water. This can be followed by putting the article in the washer on spin to remove excess water, or alternatively, laying it on a thick folded towel on the floor, folding the towel again over the work and doing a gentle Mexican hat dance on it to squeeze it out. Then as suggested, gently shape and leave to dry. This works for me.

But the *fastest* way is

But the *fastest* way is steaming. Use the burst of steam
button on your iron from about 1/2 an inch above the fabric
and then pat it into shape, -OR- pin it into shape first, and
then steam it, depending on whether the garmet needs some
stretching.

MMario's picture

The simplest form of

The simplest form of blocking is to wash , lay out flat, gently patting into shape and letting dry flat. If it needs shaping - then you pin it to a surface, or put it over a framework, etc.

But in general it's wash, shape, let dry.

MMario - ambiguity is cultivated, it doesn't happen in a vacuum!