Posts Tagged ‘blocking’

Never Gets Old

July 20, 2019

I generally find Facebook’s “memories” kind of creepy, in part because, well, Facebook is kind of creepy. But also because they remind me how poor my recall of time is.

Take yesterday, when I found myself thinking, “that was 9 years ago?!” when I saw this blast from the past:

lace knit shawl hanging in front of white window curtain

The magic of blocking was made real to me with my first, and so far only, lace shawl, Cleite in Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Lace in a midnight blue with hints of green.

I wrote on the blog about how I blocked the shawl, starting with the somewhat crumpled fabric that came off the needles, followed by its soak in the sink, and then careful pinning on Hannah’s bed. She was away being a counselor-in-training, I think.

If you’ve ever wondered what the big deal about blocking is — or if you’re just curious to see how this crumpled bit of wool (about 800m) was transformed with water, stretching (which is physics in action, as Kevin reminds me), and time — travel back to the “Magic of Blocking” post from July 2010.

In the meantime, I’ll be thinking about my next lace shawl.

Blocking to the Rescue

October 23, 2018

Pretty much from the time I cast on the Starshower shawl-cowl, I began thinking about blocking it when I finished. It was knitting up kind of stiff, even though the pattern was lace-ish, and didn’t have the drape that I was hoping for.

Did I swatch before I started? Why, no I didn’t. Thanks for asking. And while I really like the purple-grey yarn with a hint of sparkle, I couldn’t find the yarn band, so I was completely clueless about the weight.

Did I let these details hinder my project? Of course not! At last week’s neighborhood book group gathering, I worked the last pattern repeat.


Wine, cheese, crackers, and cake — and not a copy of the book, Before We Were Yours, in sight! At a doctor’s appointment on Friday, I binded off (or is it “bound off”?) and plopped it into the sink when I got home.



When I stretched it out on Hannah’s bed for blocking, I was pleased that it felt looser, softer, and a bit larger. Sure enough, after it dried, it had a lovely drape and a softer feel. It’s designed to be worn either as a cowl or a snug shawl around the shoulders. I’m not sure which I prefer, but I’m glad to have the option.







Yoga Socks Off the Needles

June 10, 2018

These little non-sock socks really shouldn’t have taken as long to knit as they did, but there you go. Sometimes life (and knitting) is like that.

The yoga socks are off the needles and into the sink for a bath before blocking (really, just drying).


Blanket Blocking

January 25, 2018

When I first started knitting — several decades ago now — projects were done when they came off the needles. If pieces needed to be stitched together, they were seamed and done. But more recently, I’ve become a blocking convert.

Blocking – the process of using water and shaping to truly “finish” the piece — is now the final step in my knitting projects. I first experienced the transformative power of blocking with my first lace shawl. And while the difference isn’t as dramatic in every project, blocking gives your finished work a more even, professional look.

After I’d woven in all the ends on the Siman Blanket, I spread it on the floor to admire its size and pattern — and its fluffy “waves.”


Some knitters will debate the merits of steam blocking with an iron versus the full-immersion method. I’m firmly in the full-immersion camp, preferring to plop the entire project into a sink or bath of warm water, swishing it about with some gentle soap, and rinsing.  Given all the places my knitting travels and the dribbles of tea or wine or crumbs of graham crackers amidst the stitches, I figure that a good wash is needed anyway. Warm water and a cap of Euclan swished about and then into the bath.


After a good hour of soaking and a gentle wash, I drained the soapy water and refilled with clear water for a rinse. After draining, the water-soaked blanket was heavy!


Trying not to twist, I squeezed out as much water as I could, and then wrapped and rolled it into a few bath towels. A blanket burrito of sorts!

Siman-blanket wrapped

Then I spread the whole, significantly larger blanket onto a bed, pinned it in a few spots to help hold the shape, and left it to dry for a day or so.


I couldn’t resist wrapping myself in it before folding it carefully and mailing off to sweet Hannah. I like to think of her in her chilly apartment, warmly wrapped in love.


P.S. She likes it.


Tropical Salad Shawl

July 6, 2016

The colors of the Madeline Tosh yarn that I purchased in Ontario grabbed me from the moment I saw it at The Little Red Mitten. Even though they aren’t colors that I wear at all very often — yellow and orange aren’t very flattering on my Celtic looks — I knew I’d buy it. A fruit salad of mango, cantaloupe, honeydew, and papaya: the perfect combination for a rectangular wrap across the shoulders. I usually take a photo of the label so I’ll recall the name and colorway. Alas, no such luck this time!

The drive back from a glorious weekend with two Sister-Friends was the opportunity I needed to bind off.


Back home, I plopped it into the sink for a good long soak before blocking. I discovered the magic of blocking quite a few years ago and now soak and block every wooly item. Washing is a definite “must” after you’ve carried a project around with you for weeks.


And once you’ve soaked, squeezed (gently, of course), and rinsed, you might as well block. I was hoping to lengthen this shawl (or is it a wrap?) a couple of inches — both to highlight the lovely dropped-stitch waves but also to ensure that it’d be long enough to really wrap around my shoulders. I’d only bought one skein and wasn’t really following a pattern. Risky, I know, but worth it.


Attention to Details

May 5, 2015

As I near the finish of Michael’s sweater, I try to balance the desire to hurry up and be done with it already with the desire to ensure that it’ll fit properly and look nice enough that he’ll want to wear it. Most knitters can recount clothing they’ve made for family or friends that never sees the light of day, remaining in drawers or closets somewhere.

Blocking before sewing is one of those important details. Plus, it’s fun to see the pieces laid out and lovely.

front of nordic sweater blocking on bed

Last night, when the 1.5″ neckband that the pattern called for was too high and turtleneck-ish for Michael’s taste, I calmly patiently carefully tinked* back several rows and binded off a 1/2″ neckband (K2 P2 ribbing). Much better, Michael declared.

close-up of knit ribbed neckband on sweater

Tomorrow, the sleeves.

* Tink = knit spelled backwards; the process of un-doing knitting stitch by stitch, rather than ripping out row by row.

Baby Sweater in the Bath

June 26, 2014

I’m a proponent of full immersion blocking. In my mind, steam or a spritz just doesn’t give yarn the chance to “bloom” in the way that a good soak does.

After binding off the Baby Steps Cardigan yesterday, I plopped it into a big mixing bowl that I’d filled with tepid water and a few drops of Eucalan.

baby sweater soaking in soapy water

Why the mixing bowl? Because every sink in our house, except for the big kitchen sink, is missing its stopper, making them all unsuitable for filling. Why we’re a stopper-less household, I don’t know, but there we are. I left the sweater on top of the water and returned a couple of hours later to discover it had sunk nicely and was thoroughly soaked.

baby sweater soaking in bowl of water

After a couple of swishes with new water, I rolled the sweater into a towel. I gave it some good squeezes and shaped it on a dry towel, where it’s now drying and resting. The photo doesn’t do justice to the lovely colors, but I’ll remedy that once it’s  truly finished. Next step: find just the right button.


What’s your take on blocking? And what’s on your needles these days?


The Magic of Blocking

July 20, 2010

OK, that was definitely worth the effort.  I’d long heard about the wonders of blocking lace and had seen lots of photos on various blogs.  And I’m a big believer in the power of blocking (don’t scoff!) to turn ordinary knitting into something more finished, polished even. But even I wasn’t prepared for the rush I got after blocking my first lace shawl.

For those blocking rookies, a bit of explanation.  Blocking is a technique of wetting and shaping a finished piece of knitting, then letting it dry into a smooth, even, better-looking piece.  I block pretty much everything I knit from wool, which can be shaped quite nicely after it’s been soaked in water.  And, yes, I’m a full-immersion blocker — no spritzing with a steam iron or spraying with a water bottle.  Into the sink the whole thing goes for a good 15-minute soak, so every fiber gets really wet.  The wonderful Yarn Harlot has a good post about such things here.

When I finished the Cleite shawl (Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Lace, nearly one skein or 874 yds), it looked kind of fluffy and smaller than what I wanted.

Shawl before blocking

The detail of the stitches were somewhat lost. You couldn’t even see the lovely points along each of the two side edges.

Into the sink for a soak. Then I carefully transferred it to a bath towel, pressing, not twisting, much of the water out.

Shawl soaking in sink

I carefully laid out the damp shawl onto Hannah’s bed (she’s away for a bit) and began pinning.  First, I pulled the top edge straight, really stretching the wool (it’s resilient), and pinned all along the top.  Then, I pulled the center point and made sure the center line was straight.  Then each point along both side edges was pinned into place.

Pinned shawl edge

The stitches — all those thousands of yarn overs and decreases — just blossomed before my very eyes. I felt a bit giddy.

Shawl pinned for blocking

And then I let it dry while I took Michael and some friends to an amusement park for the day.  But not before making him come upstairs to admire the work in progress.

“Wow, Mom, that’s the first really beautiful thing you’ve ever knit.  It’s like a work of art.”

I take it as the compliment it was intended. And I just might have to try this again someday.

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