The best way to block a finished knitted item
Blocking is an essential step in the finishing process of a knitted item. It helps to shape and even out the stitches, improve the drape and fit, and give the finished piece a polished look. There are several methods of blocking, but the best way will depend on the fiber content of the yarn and the desired outcome. In this article, we will explore five popular blocking techniques and discuss when to use each one.
Wet blocking is the most common and versatile method of blocking. It involves submerging the finished knitted item in water, then gently squeezing out the excess moisture and laying it flat to dry. This technique works well for natural fibers such as wool, alpaca, and cotton, as well as blends that contain a high percentage of these fibers. Wet blocking is ideal for projects that require significant shaping, such as lace shawls or garments with complex stitch patterns.
To wet block a knitted item, fill a sink or basin with lukewarm water and add a small amount of wool wash or gentle detergent. Place your item in the water and gently press it down to fully submerge it. Let it soak for 15-30 minutes, then carefully remove it from the water and gently squeeze out excess moisture. Lay the item flat on a clean towel, shaping it as desired, and let it dry completely before removing the pins or weights.
Steam blocking is a quick and effective method for blocking knitted items made from delicate fibers such as silk or cashmere. It is also a great option for projects that require minor reshaping or to fix small imperfections in the finished piece. Steam blocking involves applying steam to the knitted item, either by using a handheld steamer or by hovering an iron over the item, without touching it.
To steam block a knitted item, lay it flat on a heatproof surface, such as an ironing board or towel. Hold the steamer or iron a few inches above the item and direct the steam towards it. Move the steamer or iron over the entire surface of the item, focusing on areas that require shaping or correction. Be careful not to apply too much heat or steam, as it can damage delicate fibers. Allow the item to cool and dry completely before handling or wearing it.
Spray blocking is a gentle and convenient method for blocking knitted items made from fibers that are sensitive to water or heat, such as acrylic or bamboo. It involves misting the item with water or a blocking spray, then shaping it and allowing it to dry. Spray blocking is suitable for projects that require minimal reshaping and primarily aim to even out stitches and soften the fabric.
To spray block a knitted item, lay it flat on a clean towel or blocking mat. Fill a spray bottle with water or a blocking spray, then mist the item until it is evenly damp. Gently shape the item, using your hands or blocking pins, to achieve the desired dimensions. Allow the item to dry completely before removing the pins or weights. Avoid spraying too much water, as it can cause the colors to bleed or the fabric to become oversaturated.
Pin blocking is a precise and effective method for blocking lace or intricate stitch patterns. It involves stretching the item into shape using blocking wires and T-pins. Pin blocking allows for precise control over the final dimensions and can help with opening up lace patterns and ensuring straight edges.
To pin block a knitted item, start by laying it flat on a blocking mat or foam board. Use blocking wires to define the edges and smooth out curves or corners. Insert T-pins along the edges, making sure to distribute them evenly and secure any lace patterns. Gently stretch the item to the desired measurements, being careful not to distort the stitches. Allow the item to dry completely before removing the pins.
Tension blocking is a technique used to reshape a finished knitted item to match the desired measurements. It is particularly useful for adjusting the length of sleeves or garments or correcting irregular stitch tension. Tension blocking requires carefully measuring and remeasuring the item while applying gentle tension to the fabric.
To tension block a knitted item, start by pinning the edges or corners of the item to a blocking mat or foam board. Measure the desired length or width using a tape measure or ruler, and gently pull the fabric until it reaches the correct measurements. Use T-pins or blocking wires to secure the fabric while it dries. Keep in mind that tension blocking may not be suitable for all types of yarn, so it’s important to consult the yarn label or manufacturer’s recommendations before attempting this method.
In conclusion, the best way to block a knitted item depends on the fiber content, the desired outcome, and personal preference. Wet blocking is suitable for most natural fibers, while steam blocking is ideal for delicate fibers. Spray blocking works well for fibers that are sensitive to water or heat, while pin and tension blocking are excellent choices for shaping and adjusting measurements. By choosing the appropriate blocking technique and following the proper steps, you can enhance the appearance and durability of your knitted items.