Blocking is the process of making your garment or knitted piece the right shape and size by either wetting and re-shaping or pressing with a steam iron or a steam iron and a damp cloth (formerly known as ‘pressing’).
Blocking makes your knitted piece look so much more professional and helps make it fit right, sit right and drape nicely.
Smaller projects are easy enough to block with a steam iron on an ironing board but for larger items such as shawls, it becomes a litttle more awkward. You can use towels laid on the floor and wet block, pinning the work to the towels where more intricate shape detail is required or when the work just won’t lay flat or you can invest in a blocking mat, my favourite blocking mat is the Block ‘n’ Roll, it is teflon coated, measures over 1 metre square and has grid markings on so you can see straight away if you are lined up correctly. Nicely padded you can pin to it and you can either wet block or steam iron block straight on to the Block ‘n’ Roll and leave to dry or cool before removing the work.
Here is a picture of my Ishbel Shawl before blocking………
………There isn’t any great stitch definition, the lace work is bunched up and difficult to make out but worst of all is the horrible curled up edge.
Here is Ishbel after blocking…….
……….So, you can see the difference, we have gone from a piece of knitting to a work of art! Now, I blocked this with a steam iron and pins to the ironing board….with someone else lifting the iron as it might be ‘too heavy’ so soon after my hysterectomy and the reason I blocked it this way is plainly because it was killing me seeing it unblocked!! It would definately have been much easier on the blocking mat and the results may have even been a little better with the definition on the points as I could have enhanced the points with the use of blocking wires and ‘T’ pins. The yarn I have used in this shawl is particularly good to block, it is Malabrigo Sock, I have used colourway Indiecita which has hues of purple, blue, yellow and green, it is 100% Merino which is fairly unusual for a sock yarn as most do have a percentage of nylon for strength so for socks, you would definately benefit from using reinforcing thread (we sell it for 80p a reel but it’s not on the website yet!) but for garments and shawls, it’s fabulous!!!
One cautionary note about blocking though is that the yarn you use does make a difference, some yarns just will not block. This is particularly the case in cheaper yarns of poor quality fibres or particularly high acrylic contents, they just tend to spring back and curl up no matter what you do to them. When you use a fine yarn, you will see the creativity of your work come to life when you block and you will slowly convert to a ‘yarn snob’ 🙂