Monday, August 13, 2007

Blocking for Blockheads

Blocking has been one part of the knitting process that has always been mysterious to me. None of my books have detailed instructions about blocking. I had the idea that I should wet the garment, arrange it in the shape it should be and let it dry. But how wet? Should I do it before or after the garment was assembled? Should I pin it?

This weekend I finished the garter stitch cardigan I've been knitting for myself from this free pattern from Lion Brand. And I determined to learn everything I could about blocking the sweater correctly. I surfed the web and read a number of articles on the subject. My favorite is this one from See Eunny Knit

Armed with all this information, I set out to block my sweater pieces. Since I'm knitting with a wool/cotton blend -- Main Line from KnitPicks -- and since I didn't trust myself not to burn the heck out of myself with a steam iron -- I decided to go with wet blocking. Above you see the pieces soaking in my bathtub.

Next, I spread trash bags on top of the quilt on the bed in my guest bedroom. I started pinning. The bed made a great place to lay out everything. The pins sank into the quilt and held. I worked about an hour getting this all in place. I liked that I could even pin places (often where the thread is knotted on the backside) where the ribs were crooked.

I left the pieces on the bed with the window open. They should be dry enough by tomorrow to sew together. Then I'll need to sew in the zipper and put on the trim.

I'll let you know how it goes. Do any of you have tips for blocking?


Blogger Dallas Schulze said...

Sounds like you're on the right track. I love the way blocking changes the fabric. In my experience, it always looks better, has nicer drape and feels suddenly 'real'. I've also found it much easier to seam after a good blocking.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Carol said...

You got it. Hope we see pictures of the completed project.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Tanya said...

I like the method that Bonne Marie of Chicknits uses. Rather than soak the knitting in water you roll it in wetted, wrung out towels and leave it overnight. The knitting gets thoroughly damp but there is no stress on it as it is layed flat on the towels before being rolled up. From there you pin and allow to air dry as usual.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Trish said...

That's pretty much what I do. My bed is my blocking board. I use a fan to help dry things faster.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

Instead of blocking on a bed, I like to use interlocking foam mats like those found on the internet. They're made to be water/sweat/drool proof, when not in use, you can disassemble them and stick them in a closet, and the pins stick nicely in them. Plus you can arrange them in the size needed (like when you have a really big shawl or stole to block). Mine actually look nothing like the ones pictured--I got the 6'x4' playmat at Home Depot, so it has a little town on it. But I got 2 sets, so if needed, I can put them side by side.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Vicki said...

Interweave Knits online e-newsletter ( recently did a two-part article on blocking that I thought was excellent. Sandy, who writes the newsletter, recently got a blocking board and seems to like it a lot. I generally use my spare (stash!) room carpet with big beach towels spread over it and pin to the carpet using "T" pins. Sometimes I went the pieces and sometimes I use steam, especially for the lighter weight yarns.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Cindi, I'm trying to be contrite about Smiley's but I just can't! Don't you LOVE all that yarn??

9:43 PM  

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