What Is Blocking in Knitting?
Knitting is a wonderful craft that allows you to create beautiful, cozy items from scratch. However, once you finish knitting a project, there is still one important step to take before it's truly complete - blocking. If you're a beginner knitter, you may be wondering what exactly blocking is and why it's necessary. In this guide, we'll break down the basics of blocking and provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to block your knitted items.
What is blocking in knitting?
Blocking is a process that involves shaping and resizing your knitted item to give it a more finished and professional look. When you knit, the yarn and stitches can become stretched or distorted, especially if you're using more complex stitch patterns or if you've been working on the project for a while. Blocking helps to even out the stitches, improve tension, and enhance the overall appearance of your finished project.
Why is blocking important?
Blocking is important for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to ensure that your finished project looks its best. It can smooth out any uneven stitches or tension issues, creating a more polished and professional appearance. Secondly, blocking helps to shape and resize your knitted item. This is particularly useful if you're knitting garments or accessories, as it allows you to achieve the desired fit and shape. Lastly, blocking can also help to open up lace patterns and enhance the overall drape and texture of your knitted item.
Types of blocking techniques
There are several different blocking techniques that you can use, depending on the type of fiber you're working with and the finished look you want to achieve. The three main types of blocking techniques are wet blocking, steam blocking, and spray blocking.
Wet blocking is the most common and versatile blocking technique. It involves soaking your knitted item in water, gently squeezing out the excess, and then shaping and resizing it. Wet blocking is suitable for natural fibers like wool and cotton, as well as some synthetic fibers. It's recommended for projects that require significant shaping or resizing, or for projects with lace patterns that need to be opened up.
Steam blocking is a quicker method that uses steam to reshape your knitted item. It's suitable for delicate fibers like silk or synthetic blends, as well as projects that require minor adjustments or refreshing. To steam block, you can either use a garment steamer or an iron with a steam function. The steam helps to relax the fibers, allowing you to reshape and resize your knitted item.
Spray blocking is a gentle method that is best suited for delicate or non-absorbent fibers like acrylic. Instead of soaking the entire item, you lightly spray it with water, focusing on the areas that need reshaping. Spray blocking is a good option for projects that require minimal reshaping or for items that can't be fully submerged in water.
Tools and materials for blocking
Tools for blocking
Before you start blocking, it's important to gather the necessary tools. These include:
- Blocking mats or towels: These provide a flat surface for blocking and help to absorb excess moisture.
- T-pins or blocking wires: These are used to secure the edges of your knitted item and shape it.
- Measuring tape or ruler: These are helpful for measuring and ensuring that your knitted item is blocked to the correct dimensions.
- Spray bottle (for wet blocking): This is used to lightly dampen your knitted item during the blocking process.
- Garment steamer or iron (for steam blocking): A garment steamer or iron with a steam function is needed to apply steam to your knitted item.
Materials for blocking
Depending on the blocking technique you choose, you may also need the following materials:
- Clean, lukewarm water (for wet blocking): This is used to soak your knitted item during the wet blocking process. You can add a wool wash or mild detergent if desired to give your knitted item a fresh scent.
- Blocking wires (for shaping): Blocking wires can be used to shape your knitted item more precisely, especially if you're blocking lace patterns or delicate items.
- Blocking combs or brushes (for enhancing texture): These tools can be used to gently comb or brush your knitted item once it's dry, which can enhance the texture and stitch definition.
- Absorbent towels (for pressing out excess water): These towels are helpful for gently pressing out any excess water from your knitted item before shaping and laying it out to dry.
Step-by-step guide to wet blocking
1. Fill a sink or basin with lukewarm water. Add a small amount of wool wash or mild detergent if desired, and gently swirl the water to create suds.
2. Submerge your knitted item in the water and gently squeeze it to ensure it's evenly wet. Let it soak for about 15 minutes to allow the fibers to absorb the moisture.
1. Lay your blocking mats or towels on a flat surface, making sure they're large enough to accommodate your knitted item.
2. Remove your knitted item from the water and gently squeeze out the excess moisture. Avoid wringing or twisting the item, as this can cause damage to the fibers.
3. Place the wet knitted item on the mats and gently reshape it to match the desired dimensions. Use your hands to smooth out any wrinkles or uneven stitches.
4. If needed, use T-pins or blocking wires to secure the edges and shape of your knitted item. Start by pinning the corners or key points, and then fill in the rest with pins to ensure even tension.
5. Once your knitted item is shaped and pinned to your satisfaction, leave it to dry completely. This can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the fiber and the humidity in your home.
Step-by-step guide to steam blocking
1. Set up your garment steamer or iron with the steam function. Make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe and effective use.
2. Hold the steamer or iron about 2-3 inches away from your knitted item, ensuring that the steam can easily reach the fibers without directly touching them.
1. Hover the steamer or iron over the knitted item, allowing the steam to penetrate the fibers. Be careful not to hold the steamer or iron in one place for too long, as this can cause damage to the fibers.
2. Gently reshape the knitted item using your hands, smoothing out any wrinkles or uneven stitches.
3. Once your knitted item is reshaped to your satisfaction, leave it to dry completely. You can lay it flat on a blocking mat or towel, or hang it up to dry, depending on the item's weight and fiber content.
Step-by-step guide to spray blocking
1. Fill a spray bottle with clean water.
1. Lay out your knitted item on a flat surface, such as a blocking mat or towels.
2. Lightly spray the item with water, focusing on the areas that need reshaping or refreshing. It's important not to saturate the knitted item, as this can lead to overstretching or distortion.
3. Gently reshape the item using your hands or blocking combs, smoothing out any wrinkles or uneven stitches. If necessary, use T-pins or blocking wires to secure the edges and shape.
4. Leave your knitted item to dry completely. This can take several hours or overnight, depending on the fiber and the humidity in your home.
Tips and tricks for successful blocking
- Always check the care instructions for your yarn and knitted item before blocking to ensure that the fibers can withstand the blocking process.
- Test block a small swatch before blocking the entire project, especially if you're unsure how the fibers will react to water or steam.
- Use blocking wires for better shape control, particularly if you're working with lace patterns or delicate items.
- Pin or secure the edges of your knitted item while blocking to prevent curling or rolling.
- Use blocking combs or brushes to gently enhance the texture and stitch definition of your knitted item, giving it an extra touch of polish.
In conclusion, blocking is an essential step in the knitting process that can greatly improve the appearance and fit of your finished projects. Whether you choose to wet block, steam block, or spray block, the techniques and tips outlined in this guide will help you achieve professional results. So go ahead, embrace the power of blocking and take your knitting to the next level!