Monday, March 17, 2008

How to Tuesday : Blocking

I believe it was my forum friend Judy who first introduced me to blocking a couple of years ago. I had made a pair of longies and had used an ever so slightly too long a pair of circulars for the legs resulting in a very uneven fabric. Judy suggested I try blocking.

Blocking??

And she gave me this link (which I have bookmarked for ever). Thanks Judy!!

Blocking is basically CAREFULLY wetting or steaming your FO in order to even out the stitches or to shape the piece. Blocking also helps to uncurl stockinette stitch and is therefore a crucial step before seaming if you want to have flat and easy to seam pieces. You can also use it to CAREFULLY stretch your piece to the desired size.

I admit to being the kind of knitter who likes INSTANT results. Hence why I mainly knit very small things. Patience was apparently not something I was blessed with. I also admit to often 'using' or 'wearing' the FO straight off the needles. But the times when I have taken a deep breath and *actually* blocked my FO as my final 'finishing' step, I am always so impressed with the finish and how blocking makes my knitting look neater and more professional.

Mostly I am lazy and don't block stuff I make for me or the kids but I do however *always* block in the following circumstances -

- something is a gift (made the mistake of not prewashing dishcloths I gave to family at Xmas and Mum ended up with bright pink water the first time she used her cloth). Best to check for colour fastness if you're giving it away.

- intarsia and fairisle. The knitting I sell has a lot of intarsia and I always block the soakers I make. This also allows me to lanolise at the same time but mainly I do this to even out the knitting and make the pictures relax. They look much better post blocking.

- lots of seaming. Blocking pieces (I usually do steam blocking with my iron) before seaming makes the chore ten times easier so I do steam block if the FO is something like a cardigan or jumper that has quite a bit of seaming


There are a couple of different ways to block - e.g using your iron to steam the pieces, carefully hand washing/swishing (fully immersing in water) or spraying. A key step is to shape the wet peice either by stretching by hand or by laying out and pinning into shape. The links below describe the different techniques. Which one you should use depends on the weight&thickness of your yarn and and how fragile it is (obviously you would treat lace weight yarn differently than chunky homespun) and what you are wanting to achieve by blocking (making your stitches look even or stretching out a too small item)


So...how to block your knitting

Knitty link again

If you haven't already, go add TechKnitter to your RSS reader. SO MUCH wonderful information there. Every single post is something I've always wanted to know how to do. Great information there for every knitter so go add to you reader :)
This post about blocking has information about how to go about it and why you should.

Theres a blocking tutorial at the Purl Bee which explains how to block using a spray bottle or sprizter with your FO pinned into shape. There is also a YouTube clip here showing the spray/pin technique

I also found this page that has a really good illustration of the difference blocking can make

Happy Knitting (and blocking!)

PS. Blogger is being cranky for me today so sorry if you get this as a feed and it's a little wierd today. Think I have fixed now

3 comments:

nova_j said...

a gold star for you! i've just this morning cast on your earflap beanie, and looking at the curly wee flaps thinking "hmm this means i'm going to have to learn to block.." and here you go providing the answer! :D tankoo!!

sweetp said...

Cool, can't wait to see you one. When you do the edging it stops the flaps from curling mostly :)

Kat said...

So you think I need to get over my fear of blocking then aye :P