Block It Out

After you bind off that last stitch, it’s quite tempting to just start wearing your new shawl or hat. You put a ton of work in and it’s time to show that bad boy off. But there may be one final step to take.

Blocking  is the process of using water or steam to help shape your project to its final size and shape. It also can help even up stitch tension and smooth out edges. Blocking is probably most important in lace projects so that the pattern opens up and you see all of the eyelet stitches.

Before and After, from Twist Collective
Before and After, from Twist Collective

Wet Blocking

I’ve only ever used this method. For wet blocking, you soak the entire piece in tepid water, often with a wool wash (I like Eucalan), then squeeze out the excess water, and pin it out flat to dry. Ysolda Teague has a full step by step tutorial – wet blocking is best for lace projects that need a bit more persuasion to find their final size and shape.

Spray Blocking

Spray blocking is good for items that only need minor adjustments. For this method, lay out the item on towels or blocking mats and lightly spray with water. Gently pull the piece into shape, working one area at a time.

Steam Blocking

Because The Doodler shawl is all garter, with just the small eyelet and cable elements, I think I am going to try steam blocking when I’m finished. This shawl doesn’t require serious shaping, just a little help to even out stitches.

Fiber Counts

Your pattern will dictate how aggressive you block, your fiber will help determine the method. This guide from Vogue Knitting  will keep you from damaging your work

Angora Wet block by spraying.
Cotton Wet block or warm/hot steam press.
Linen Wet block or warm/hot steam press.
Lurex Do not block.
Mohair Wet block by spraying.
Novelties Do not block.
Synthetics Carefully follow instructions on ball band—usually wet block by spraying; do not press.
Wool and all wool-like fibers (alpaca, camel hair, cashmere) Wet block by spraying or warm steam press.
Wool blends Wet block by spraying; do not press unless tested.

Where I Leave You

Nearly there

I’m not a speed knitter, so trying to keep pace with the blog has been a fun challenge. I’m on the last wedge of Clue 3, then I’ll need to decide which option to take for finishing it off in Clue 4. I’m particularly happy with how my color choices played out – the hints of blue and red in each section are working together well. Just a bit more work and it’ll be read to wear!

 

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