Let’s talk blocking!
This month, we are working on shawls, but these blocking techniques can be used on virtually any knitting or crochet project.
What is blocking? Why is it important? The term “blocking” refers to the process of wetting or steaming your fibre to set the finished size of your project. Blocking is usually done on the final object unless otherwise noted in your pattern (some patterns call for pieces to be blocked individually before assembling them). Blocking not only sets the finished size of your project, but also helps even out your stitches. This gives a nice, even look, and really pulls a project together. Blocking your project can also be helpful to get your project to lay flat if the edges are curling. This happens most often with single crochet or stockinette stitch.
After blocking, a difference in gauge and final size is often noted. This is another reason you will ofter see patterns note that the gauge is measured after blocking the square.
Tools and Techniques
There are a few different ways to block items, and each is suitable for different things.
There are 3 main ways to block: steam blocking, spray blocking, and wet blocking. Today we are going to focus on wet blocking. Do note, wet blocking will work on any fibre, but in general, any type of blocking will not be as effective on acrylic fibres as it is on natural fibres.
For wet blocking a shawl, we will need:
1. Pins (ideally t-pins or knit blocking pins, but straight pins or glass head pins will also work, as long as they are non-rusting)
2. Soak Wash or other wool washing detergent
3. Ruler or measuring tape
4. Blocking mats
5. Wash basin or sink
6. Towel (sized to project)
Note: Before starting, it will be helpful to gather all of your supplies and have them laid out so there’s no scrambling during the process.
Step 1: We are going start by mixing our Soak Wash into our water. Fill your basin with cold/cool water, and add your Soak Wash or wool wash according to the bottle. It is important to use cool water for this step. If we use hot or warm water at this step, it can cause the fibres to felt.
Step 2: Add your shawl to the water. Gently place your shawl into the water, letting it soak through. At this stage, you can gently squeeze your shawl to allow the water to soak through. Do not agitate the shawl in the water. The friction can cause the fibre to felt.
Step 3: Leave your shawl to soak in the water for approximately 15 minutes, or until it is thoroughly soaked.
Step 4: When your shawl is fully soaked, gently pick it up out of the water. If you have used Soak Wash, there is no need to rinse your shawl. If you’ve used a detergent that needs to be rinsed, now is the time to gently rinse the detergent out of your shawl with cool water.
Step 5: Gently squeeze the water out of your shawl. Be careful not to wring the shawl as this can also cause felting, or stretch the fibres more than you want, causing misshaping.
Step 6: Lay your towel out. Place your shawl in the centre of the towel. Wrap the towel around the shawl and gently squeeze the excess water out. Once finished this step, your shawl should be lightly damp. If it is too wet at the end of this step, it will take a lot longer to dry.
Step 7: Your blocking mats can be arranged in whatever formation is suitable for your finished shawl shape. Ideally, you’re going to want your blocking mats laid out so that the finished dimensions of your shawl fit entirely on the mats.
Step 8: Place your shawl on your blocking mats. Grab your measuring tape or ruler and pins. Begin lightly stretching your shawl to match the finished dimensions that your pattern specifies. Be careful not to over stretch your shawl at this point. When it’s wet, it’s very easy for the fibres to stretch, so it can be very easy to over stretch the fibres. Once the fibre is stretched, it is hard or impossible to recover, depending on the fibre content.
Step 9: As you stretch your shawl to the finished dimensions, use your pins of choice to pin it in place against the mats. Try to keep the edges nice and straight. Place the pins approximately 1/4 inch from the edge of your shawl.
Step 10: Once you have pinned all your edges down, leave your shawl to dry. Depending on the temperature and humidity, drying time will differ. You can also place a fan on a light setting facing your shawl to help it dry a bit quicker. It should be completely dry within 1-2 days.
Step 11: Once your shawl is completely dry, unpin it from the blocking mats. If you haven’t woven in your ends yet, do this now. Your shawl is now finished and ready to wear!
Pictured Here and throughout the blog:
Pattern- Fino Shawow Shawl
Mini Kit- Flora
Main Colour- Alegria in Galaxy
Knit by: Atoosa
Blocking Tutorial: Katherine