woensdag 30 mei 2012

Tutorial: How To Block Finished Objects

After you finish a crocheted or knitted item, it is not really done. You sometimes need to block items to get a certain gauge, shape or laciness. This “blocking” as we call it, is the most important step in finishing your woolly item before it is ready to wear.

Blocking gives shape, makes irregular stitching disappear and gives you the opportunity to manipulate yarn in the way you want.

For example, if you have a sweater that consists of loose pieces, ie arms, you want both armholes to be the same length and width. Nobody is a machine, so chances are that both your armholes are different in size. You need to block it!

Another example, and this showcases the purpose of blocking at its best in my opinion, is knitting or crocheting a lace item. When you have finished (especially with knitting) the items seems a droopy mess. Yarn overs are not the same size or almost non existent. Crocheted shells are lumpy and not “shell-like”. You need to block it!

Everything will look better after blocking, trust me. Some items do not really need to be blocked such as socks (there are people who will say otherwise) or afghans/blankets. Some yarns cannot really be blocked. I will address this at the end of this tutorial.

Let’s suggest you have a wool item that needs to be blocked. I am going to describe the process also called “wet-blocking”. Other forms are “steamblocking” or “killing”. Those are used with other types of yarn, but wool items behave at their best with wet-blocking.

You will need:
Finished object (FO)


A very gentle soap or shampoo (I use Urtekram)


Flat surface that will be unused for a night or a night and a day

Pins, lots of them

Not really necessary, but useful: blocking kit (I got mine at Wolhemel, but the shop does not exist anymore..)


Step 1: Take your FO (with ends woven in) and collect the bucket and the shampoo. Fill the bucket
with handwarm water (I use 30 degrees Celsius, just barely warm) and while the water is running into
the bucket do a bit of shampoo in the water. Just a bit, you need just a bit of soap bubbles.

Step 2: Put your FO under water and let all the air bubbles get out of the wool. Let it soak for
maybe half an hour, no longer (especially if it’s not machine washable wool!). The wool needs to be
completely saturated with water.

Step 3: Rinse your FO, no wringing, just let the water run, let the item make circles in the bucket, turn
it a bit (careful!) until the water is clear. Let most of the water run out of the bucket.

Step 4: Take your towel and spread it out. Cup the item in your hand, and let most of the water leak
out of it in the bucket. No wringing! Put the FO in the towel, fold it and press on the
towel to get most of the water out of the FO.

Step 5: Take your item out of the towel and spread it out on a flat surface. Wool will grow with
blocking so take this information in account when choosing the size of surface you need to block. Now take your pins, relax your back and concentrate.

Step 6: Depending on the shape of the item start pinning while gently stretching the item to all
directions. With a triangular shawl I start at the bottom point and work my way up. With something
circular you need to put in pins around the item, carefully keeping the same distance to the center.
Use chainspaces to pin it down. Try not to stretch stitches too much.

Step 7: Let it dry. A lace shawl in sockweight yarn will dry in approximately one night, maybe a day.
Be careful not to block in the sunshine! Coloured wool will fade when dried in direct sunlight. Note: as you can see, this tutorial is a sneak peek at my prayer shawl!

Step 8: Unpin and wear! Or if it were parts of a garment, sew them together.

You can block acrylics and cotton as well but they need to be treated differently. Wool is easy to block and will retain mostly its blocked size/shape even it is washed afterwards. You probably do not need to re-block. Cotton can be wetblocked but it needs to be blocked hard (stretched out) and will need reblocking every time you wash it. Acrylics can be blocked both wet blocked and steamblocked. After wet blocking it will probably spring back a bit. 

Steamblocking (gently hovering above an item with an iron and patting it into shape) is a good option but you will need to do it again after washing. For the record, wool can also be steamblocked, the most important thing to keep in mind is to pin the dry item into shape and then steamblock it. 
If you want your acrylic FO to be blocked permanently, you can “kill” it by pinning it into shape (dry) running the iron directly over the yarn so that it will “melt” into position. I have never “killed” anything so I have no experience with the process. I just wash it and lay it flat to dry.

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