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The Basics of Blocking, Part Two

Jul 27, 2007

Ready to block!

On Wednesday, we began our Adventure in Blocking with a review of the basic tools and preparations you need to make before you get started. Now that you have everything gathered together, and now that you have experimented with blocking your swatch (and of course, you would never, ever skip the swatching step, right? Of course not.), we can forge ahead with the actual blocking! We ended with Step 4 last time, so next is Step 5.

Step 5: If you are going to wet your knitting using the immersion method or the roll-in-wet-towels method, do it now. Immersion method: Soak the knitting in lukewarm water for about 20 minutes to let the water fully permeate the fibers. Squeeze gently. Never, ever twist, wring, or otherwise be rough with your knitting (unless, of course, what you want is a nice felted sweater!). Roll in dry towels to remove excess moisture (some people use the spin cycle of their washer, but this is for braver hearts than mine). Rolling-in-wet-towels method: Pretty much just as it sounds. Wet a large towel, wring out excess moisture, lay it flat with your knitting on top, and roll it up like a big wet jelly-roll-with-knitted-filling. Let it sit until the knitting inside is completely damp (this might take several hours). Steaming and spraying folks: Read on. Your turn comes later.


Shape garment from the center outwards

Step 6: Start pinning. Starting from the center and working outwards, smooth your knitting out to the approximate measurements, and start placing pins at wide intervals. What do you mean, start at the center? For the Bonsai Tunic, I started at the ribbed waistband (see note below about blocking ribbing!). I patted the upper back into place and pinned the center neck, then working again from the ribbed waist, smoothed out towards the armholes and pinned those. Then I did the same with the lower half, always working from the center waist downwards.

Step 7: Measure and re-pin as necessary to shape your garment more accurately. This is where the fun starts, particularly for all of us OCD knitters. Measure, pin, repeat. Use the schematic or finished measurements as a guide. How much can I stretch my knitting to obey me? Depends on the yarn, the gauge, and the garment. For most lace shawls, you can stretch it out to the fullest extent the stitches will reach. For all knitting, keep in mind that if you pull in one direction, your knitting will shorten in another direction to compensate. Try to keep the overall proportions correct and don't forget to allow for things like negative ease, texture, and how the stitches look.


Don't stretch out the ribbing!

Special note about blocking ribbing: See the photo of the waist ribbing on my Bonsai? Notice that it is NOT stretched out at all. I actually compressed it a bit, patting it evenly into place, and leaving most of it unpinned. (In contrast, I pinned the heck out of the lace skirt.) This will allow the ribbing to maintain its elasticity and shape.

Step 8: If you are a steamer or a sprayer, it's your turn now! Starting (again) at the center of the garment, carefully steam or spray the knitting, patting it with your hand to gauge the amount of moisture as you go. (Use caution with the hot steam, and maybe wait a second after applying the steam to let things cool a bit. Don't burn yourself! Burns might get in the way of casting on your next project.) Make sure to spray/steam your piece evenly so all parts of it absorb the same amount of water (and in the case of steaming, heat).

Step 9: Let dry thoroughly. Do not bother your knitting whilst it is drying. Leave it alone, close the door, keep your cats and overly-helpful roommates away. The impatient amongst you may use a fan to help the process along. If you really must use a blow dryer, remember that a blow dryer adds heat to the equation and consider carefully if heat is appropriate to your particular blocking situation.


Each star marks a pin

Final and most important step: Un-pin, and admire the beautiful drape, the awesome workmanship, and lovely stitches that comprise your knitting.

As I was taking the photos for this post, I realized that some folks might want a clearer photo of exactly where I placed the pins. I quickly discovered that the little silvery pin dudes wouldn't show up in the photos, so I dug around in the supply closet (I'm blocking this in a spare office at work, because I have four very helpful Assistant Felines at home) until I found some glittery foil stars. See the photo? Voila! Each star marks a pin location. Note that there are no stars at all in the ribbed waist section, but there are stars all over the lace skirt.
Pinning out the lace pattern
I placed one pin near the top yarnover of each lace repeat, in the decrease immediately adjoining. For lace patterns, I like to place pins in the center of an ssk or k2tog, as those are the strongest parts of the knitting and thus less likely to distort. You can put pins in the yarnovers themselves, but be careful--you want the yarn to form a graceful "yarnover" and not an awkward "pointy-over!"




Questions, Questions...and some Answers!

Which wetting method did you use for the Bonsai? My yarn is Berroco Bonsai, an absolutely lovely bamboo ribbon yarn, with drape and a teeny, tiny bit of "crunch" that adds texture and memory. I blocked my swatch using my garment steamer (I LOVE my garment steamer), but I wasn't thrilled with the results. The heat seemed to take away a bit of the sheen of this lovely yarn. So for the back of my tunic, I used the spray method, and sprayed liberally until the fabric was quite damp. I was really happy with how it came out. REMEMBER: You might prefer how your garment looks when steam-blocked! It's YOUR knitting, not mine. Experiment to find a way that works for you.

Do you block acrylic and other non-sheepy, non-planty fibers? I've heard blocking kills them! What kills acrylic and some other human-made fibers is direct application of heat. So: Don't iron them. (If you must apply steam, keep the iron or steamer high enough above the fabric so you don't melt or scorch the yarn.)

But Sandi, tell us the ANSWER: Do you NEED to block acrylic? Welllll. Here's where I have to make an admission. I have not knit with acrylic yarn since I was a teenager, so I don't actually have any personal experience with this. What I do know is that many experienced knitters say you don't need to block acrylic. Given that, and given that I believe deep in my knitter's heart that blocking has miraculous results, if I were to knit something out of acrylic (or any other unfamiliar fiber, for that matter), I would knit five swatches--yes, five--and then try a different blocking method on each one: immersion, steam, spray, jelly-roll-of-wet-towels, and no blocking at all. I might use pins on one or two, and just pat out the others. After they dried, I would evaluate the look, feel, and drape of each swatch. The swatch I liked best would be my guide for blocking the finished garment.

That said...there are plenty of you out there in Knitting Daily Land who have tons of experience knitting with acrylic. So, let's turn it over to the commenters: What is your opinion on blocking human-made fibers?


 

Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. She is now the author of the popular Knitting Daily blog: What's on Sandi's Needles.

  

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Comments

on Jun 1, 2012 4:31 PM

Better Than Booties , but still a bit lonely Now that we know that there are over 69,000 UnFinished Knitting

katehar wrote
on May 25, 2012 5:06 PM

Sandi:

I'm hoping you can help. The link to Part 1 of this article is broken and I need to review it as I'm using it as a reference in a paper. Would it be possible for you to send me the text from that page?

Thanks,

Kate (katehar@hotmail.com)

on Mar 3, 2012 5:02 AM

Sandi's Wise Swatch Thank you for the hilarious comments, and all the helpful suggestions, that were

on Oct 16, 2011 6:28 AM

to KarenW - I prefer a blocking board that has tiny holes in it so it helps my fabric breathe whilst drying. As for blocking something doubled, I would suggest instead blocking in part. Roll up your piece until you have a portion to be blocked and the rolled portion which together fills your blocking surface. Use the spray method and block the unrolled portion. When that is completely dry, unroll and reroll so you can block the next portion. I've done this successfully with many larger pieces. It just takes a lot more time.  You can block folded over, but only if there is only two layers, no more. This is a lot of work. To prevent mold, you need to turn the piece over and reset/reblock the next day, or day 2. On day 3 you need to refold so the outside becomes the inside, and the side that was up on Day 1 is the side that is up. Day 4 turn over. You may get a crease with some fibers. You have to be very careful with reblocking or your final measurements may not be what you anticipae. I find the rolling method to be superior to doubling. And, I would not double in the summer or when humidity is high as chance of mold is much higher then. I would also want the piece to be in a room with the ceiling fan running or another fan going to keep air moving, as this helps prevent mold.

on Oct 16, 2011 6:19 AM

to LindaM@89 - block, I would suggest the spray method for mixed fibers. I've been knitting for 55 years and crocheting a few less years, and I weave, and have done a number of mixed fiber pieces. Treat the piece the way you'd treat the most delicate or most difficult to work with fiber. I would definitely not use the steam method on a mixed fiber piece.

on Oct 16, 2011 6:14 AM

ON BLOCKING ACRYLICS: I knit almost entirely with acrylics because most people in my family are allergic to wools and animal based fibers. On blocking, it depends. The looser the twist in the yarn, the more likely you'd prefer to block. If I'm making an afghan or something where in I'm sewing parts together and they need to be the same size, block. Sweaters, if the finished knitted or crocheted piece is quite close to the final measurements in the pattern (or in my case, as I anticipated for my own design), and this is true fo all the pieces of the sweater, I will forego blocking. If just one piece is off, I will block all the pieces. I don't block hats but do block most scarves as there tends to be variation in the width over the length of a scarf. Small keyhole scarves I may not block. I usually don't block capelets and shrugs, but usually do block anything larger. Again on sweaters, I'm more likely to block an adult sweather than a child's sweater, but that is because the larger the piece, the more likely it is you will not have knit or crocheted it to meet all dimensions wanted in the finished piece.

on Oct 15, 2011 1:08 PM

I missed your article - The Basics of Blocking (Part One) - where may I find it on your site? Thank you.

proudgrammal@hotmail.com

LindaM@89 wrote
on Sep 5, 2011 8:18 AM

I am knitting a throw. J. Flood baby blanket.  Picked up lace edging. Alpaca yarn 90%  have knitted the lace edge with an acrylic yarn 15% wool.  The acrylic rows are between  alpaca rows.  Can this be blocked successfully?  The color is perfect for the project .  What do you think.  It is still on needles, looks great  now, will it hold a block and all match? What do you think?  Help

jfurdek wrote
on Apr 3, 2010 11:05 AM

thanks for the examples.  I am looking for a book that contains a lot of information finishing details.  different seam techniques, shaping, etc.  also, I thought your comments on where to pin based on different characteristics of ribbing, lace, etc., were very helpful.  I'd appreciate a comprehensive source of all of this kind of material.  I am an accomplished sewer and designer of fabric garments, and would really like to take my knitting finishing skills to the same level as my fabric skills.  although I have found your site very helpful when I have specific questions, it is also the things I don't know to ask that I am trying to fill in.  thank you .

on Sep 21, 2009 3:43 PM

Better Than Booties , but still a bit lonely Now that we know that there are over 69,000 UnFinished Knitting

KarenW wrote
on Dec 7, 2008 10:01 AM
OK I am going to start blocking my projects, the thing is I LOVE to knit in the round and when you knit lace in the round in needs to blocked, do you block the same way when its doubled? Does the botem get moldy from not being able to dry? So what I am asking is how do you block in the round.
roseite99 wrote
on Mar 14, 2008 1:29 AM
How do you block a sweater that has already been put together?
Emmy LouC wrote
on Oct 27, 2007 8:30 AM
I am a new comer to this Daily whimsical, educational, honest stimulation and Much better than a lot of other daily somethings to read.

Have read your encounter with the Bonsai sweater. I try to swatch. I am absolutely afraid to wash and block- very fearful! I keep my sweater clean and try hard to wear a Tee under them, etc. My son, in error, washed his son's beanie that I had made him. He found it before it was put in the dryer. It survived fine. But that does not make me braver. Maybe I should send my son all my knit projects. I need to learn this necessary aspect of knitting but how can i get over the fear?

May I share what a niece of mine taught me about mistakes? if a man galloping by on a horse cannot recognize the mistake, it is not a mistake. That gives me heart.

Thanks!- EL
PetersenC wrote
on Aug 10, 2007 6:32 PM
I've returned to knitting after a 30-or-so! year absence. I've been knitting the lace edging pattern that you posted here, and it's great. But I have no idea how to block it. I plan to make up the whole roll of crotchet cotton and am already up to about 6' of edging, with quite a bit left on the roll. (I'll edge bed linens with it when I'm done.) Does anyone have suggestions for a simple, practical way to block such a long skinny piece of lace? Thanks!
HeatherN wrote
on Aug 8, 2007 9:43 PM
How different is it for blocking a garment knit in the round? I am currently knitting the Tea Rose Halter Top from the same issue as the Bonsai tunic. This is the second time I have made this and I tried several different blocking techniques with the first one but no matter what I do, I cannot seem to get the scalloped edge to lie flat.
JuliaK wrote
on Aug 6, 2007 11:38 AM
OK, maybe we need another topic started for this, but I am dying for some patterns for sweaters for my bears. They are not build-a-bear size, I don't think, but the pre-made sweaters for 15-20" bears that you can buy at Michael's seem to fit. I *should* be able to write a pattern easily enough, but never seem to get to it... Any suggestions?!
knittingbox wrote
on Aug 5, 2007 1:53 AM
So, how come you didn't test block your swatch? <> couldn't resist after you tell people to knit and block 5 swatches!
RaisaF wrote
on Aug 1, 2007 11:01 AM
on blocking... I usually pin the part of the garment in place according to measurements and then put a soaking wet towel, or a wet piece of linen and a press on top (not heavy). I remove the towel when it dries out and let the knitting dry on its own as well before removing the pins. The whole process usually takes a day or two. I never block the garter stitch or the ribbing.
DoreenC wrote
on Aug 1, 2007 7:49 AM
Sandy, I admit I am not an overly experienced blocker. I usually knit with acrylic or "unknown" content yarns. Until recently I followed the norm and did not block pieces I knit with acrylic or polyester yarns. Then I read a beginners knitting book by Susan Melville. She recommended using the washing machine for knits that are washable before blocking. Using the gentle cycle wash the pieces (I do not wash them alone I always do a full load,if you are nervous about the material use a lingere bag). While they are still wet block them and let dry. I must say I was truly impressed at the difference adding that step made to my finished pieces! They were wet enough to block and dry enough to finish drying quickly. Using my blocking board they were dry within a couple of hours. Yes, even with acrylics I think blocking makes a difference in the drape and shape of the finished fabric. After that positive experience I block everything!
TaraR wrote
on Jul 31, 2007 8:46 PM
Oh my, I need the Build-A-Bear pattern, too! I just put my 3-year-old's and 5-year-old's bears in pajamas and I'm typing this with my three-year-old and her bear falling asleep in my lap. Oh, my kids would be beyond thrilled.
Teresa F wrote
on Jul 31, 2007 7:03 PM
Jennifer I want that pattern . . . . we have a few too many Build-a-Bear's and they like to have lots of choices . . . . do you belong to any knitting forums?
JenniferP wrote
on Jul 31, 2007 3:09 PM
Yes, I agree--a forum would be really nice, because I just designed a new pattern (a tank top for my Build-A-Bear), and I have no where really to post it because I am blogless. :-(
knittingbox wrote
on Jul 31, 2007 2:57 PM
I'm trying to knit the comfort shawl and the summer shawlette (same issue on both patterns). I've never knit the Farose shaping before and that's the part that's giving me trouble. The directions say "with the same side of the work facing you, rotate piece so selvedge at end of row just completed is uppermost. . . . " When I attempted to follow these directions I ended up with a long piece of yarn across the back -- as if it was a long yarn over. What was I supposed to do? (I just cheated and wove it in as I knit, but I'd like to know what I was supposed to do).

Thanks for your help!

Knittingbox AT yahoo DAHT com
PattiO wrote
on Jul 31, 2007 10:27 AM
I never know what type of wetting method to use.. is it just personal preference, or are there some guidelines?
Sherry wrote
on Jul 31, 2007 7:52 AM
I also do not knit with much acrylic however I do like to steam block small projects using my steam iron. I turn the project wrong side up and put a linen type dish towel over it before pressing with the steam iron. I have had good results with blocking.
Susan@4 wrote
on Jul 31, 2007 6:39 AM
I recently finished two baby ponchos using Red Heart Super Saver acrylic. After machine washing and drying them, the garter stitch hems rolled up. Using a steam iron, I carefully ironed them on the wrong side and they looked much better.
ZenaH wrote
on Jul 30, 2007 1:17 PM
With acrylic, I pin out the dry piece to size. My board is covered with blanket, then cotton sheet. I set the iron to Steam and hold it 4-5" above the knitting,patting it by hand as I go and keeping the iron on the move. When thoroughly dry, unpin, voila!
Clmd wrote
on Jul 30, 2007 1:03 PM
Which is better blocking before you assemble a piece or after?
WendyH wrote
on Jul 30, 2007 12:25 PM
I have not used acrylic for about 20 years. About five years ago, I started blocking my sweaters, hats, etc. made from wool and/or alpaca and really think it makes a difference. The garments just hang nicely afterwards. I do not block socks or mittens; however.
EllenD wrote
on Jul 30, 2007 12:04 PM
I never block, regardless of the fiber, style, colorwork, texturework, nada. At best I wash and dry flat. I have never noticed a problem as compared with commercial garments or others' blocked handknits.
ClaudiaC@2 wrote
on Jul 30, 2007 11:33 AM
I use a combo method for many garments, especially heavy ones: I get the pieces wet (I normally don't soak them for more than a minute or so), and squeeze any excess water out. Then I roll them up in a dry towel (sometimes more than one, if the pieces are too large for one towel). I never layer two pieces: I want towel touching both sides of every piece. With large lace pieces that is not always feasible, but I do it whenever possible. The towel soaks up excess moisture and helps spread moisture evenly throughout the pieces. I try to block within an hour or two of rolling it. I leave each piece rolled up until I am ready to block it. The pieces have enough moisture to be blocked easily, but not so much that it takes forever to dry (especially important for cottons and linens I find). I block all of my projects (except some scarves and some baby items, depending on the design). I find blocking pieces rather than an assembled product leads to a more polished end product. I'm also a big fan of blocking wires, as they help eliminate pinning "points".
ElsaX wrote
on Jul 30, 2007 10:39 AM
I don't block as a rule, but I'm not happy with a garment until I've washed it after wearing it a few times. And then I pat it into a better fitting shape if necessary. I must say that, compared to many pictures in knitting patterns, my knitting is quite even.
KathyC wrote
on Jul 30, 2007 9:52 AM
Sandy - thank you so much for de-mystifying blocking for me. I am a fairly new knitter and the whole blocking issue is a bit scary to me. Your tips on where to place - or not to place - pins are excellent.
Joanne wrote
on Jul 30, 2007 9:10 AM
I do alot of knitting for babies w/ good acrylics and they do not need blocking. I put the items in a lingerie bag and toss in the washer w/ like colors. If it's too smushed when the washer is done I shape it on top of the dryer and leave it til its dry. Otherwise I throw it in the dryer as well.
on Jul 30, 2007 7:13 AM
Hi everyone....Iv'e been knitting for close to fifty years. Years ago I used more acrylics than now, but one thing you can say about acrylics is, it wares like iron. I still use acrylics or acrylic blends for family afghans and some children's clothing. As far as blocking goes. Acrylics do not block well, no matter the meathod, unless heat is applied, like with an iron, and then it's tricky business not to ruin and flatten your knitting. My experience says no blocking. For the most part acrylic and blends are made to wash and dry in the dryer. I have found that the dryer seems to make the fiber 'bounce back' to it's original spring and the color will even seem brighter. That's why it seems well suited for some things that take extra ware.
Linda, Burlington, Wi.
JoanieB wrote
on Jul 29, 2007 11:40 PM
I have a quick question about blocking steeked items. I am nearly finished with a colorwork vest that I knit entirely in the round. I have never used steeks before so I chose this as my first steeking project. I left vertical stripes down the sides and at the armholes for cutting when I'm finished. Would it be appropriate to cut the steeks, block and then sew them up? Or should I finish the whole garmet and then block?
RainyK wrote
on Jul 29, 2007 11:04 PM
Just keep in mind that acrylic yarn is plastic. Too much heat, even from steam, will melt it. Acrylic yarn has "bounce back" fibers. Unless you kill it with steam, it will do just that and bounce back to it's original state. When using acrylic, it's best to knit it exactly the size and shape you want it to be.
JanO wrote
on Jul 29, 2007 2:41 PM
Anna M. - Loved your grandmother's blocking technique! Necessity is the mother of invention...
Teresa F wrote
on Jul 29, 2007 10:38 AM
And, can someone tell me how to block socks with lacework?
Teresa F wrote
on Jul 29, 2007 10:38 AM
A forum would be nice . . . .
ElanorS wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 10:53 PM
I love reading the comments here! They're always so helpful. ^_^ I'm starting to wish we had a forum though... Sometimes I think I miss stuff in all these hundreds of comments...
SarahO wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 8:37 PM
So what happens when you wash the item? Do you have to block it again? Sarah
Huberwasoo wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 7:12 PM
I, too, have not worked with acrylic yarns for some time, at least since I became a spinner. However, I always liked the immersion, followed by the jelly-roll with a LITTLE pressure to push SOME water out, and then a good yank in every direction, to pull it into the shape I wanted. Finally, I just tweaked it into place on the living room floor, and let it dry on its own. Then, I think. . . "I'm going back to working with wool . . ."
NowakL wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 4:04 PM
I recently took a finishing class locally and they recommended not blocking the pieces before assembling. She had us complete the project and then soak the completed project in cold water and Eucalan and then block it until dry as a finished garment. I tried this with a bamboo cabled camisole and it is so stretched out and too big I have to tear it all out and start over. I completed a cotton ribbed halter and it seems ok. Suggestions?
AnnaM wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 2:40 PM
I just had to tell you how my beloved
scottish mother-in-law dealt with sweaters after they were washed (she was an urban Scot, from Glasgow, This high-tech method is from the 1960's). After spinning (if you had a spin-dryer,) or rolling it in a towel and tramping on it, You spread brown paper under a corner of the carpet in a high traffic area, and laid out the sweater, covered it with more brown paper, put the rug back, and left it to be walked on for a day or two. It was flat looked great! And we think we know everything!
JoanC wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 11:18 AM
On blocking acrylic, I have found such yarns as Red Heart and Caron One Pound to be quite stiff. So,if it's a hat, I do not block. If it's an afghan, especially one made of joined squares, blocking it softens the yarn and eases the seams to make a beautiful draping blanket. I use a fluffy terricloth towel and lighlty press down the iron without dragging for just a second.
JulieP@4 wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 10:51 AM
This is such a great article! I've been knitting for 13 years and never really knew how...
MaryG wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 1:56 AM
All this talk about blocking acrylics made me think of a blog that was about felting acrylic! It is a hoot
http://www.islandofmisfitpatterns.com/2006/07/11/how-to-felt-with-acrylic/
MaryG wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 1:49 AM
Talking about blocking acrylic reminded me of a blog I read about felting acrylic. http://www.islandofmisfitpatterns.com/2006/07/11/how-to-felt-with-acrylic/. It is a hoot
SofiaT wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 1:37 AM
I am fascinated by all this blocking stuff (intermediate knitter here too)but I still have some doubts. For example, since I don't plan on getting all my knits dry cleaned, I will have to hand wash them. In that case, do I have to do all this pinning every time I wash a garment? And if so, what would be the point of just steaming it or such the first time if I have to hand wash it later?
JanO wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 12:42 AM
I am really enjoying your blocking tutorial, but I have what is possibly a really dumb question. Seeing how the process is done, I'm wondering if one has to block something every time it is washed? I assume not everybody knows how to block their wool garments, so how is this handled after the initial blocking is done?
KathyC@6 wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 12:16 AM
For baby stuff, I usually use acrylic or washable wool. Mostly, I don't bother with blocking anything acrylic. However, I just finished an acrylic baby blanket with bands of stockinette and reverse-stockinette, and it bunched up more than I wanted it to. Experimentation with a swatch convinced me that careful application of steam would work. 1st time, pinned out, light steam wasn't enough and when I unpinned it, the blanket went right back to bunchy. 2nd time with both steam and light pressure (oh, and a damp press cloth), "killed" the fabric so it draped and looked terrific. So I guess it depends on the look you want. Swatch and experiment!
LeeannW wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 11:02 PM
years ago i worked for a wonderful swedish lady who had studied all aspects of textiles in a special school in sweden...in fact stanley marcus brought her over to work at neiman marcus downtown in dallas.....anyway, she always pinned knitted pieces down with t pins to a padded surface and just steamed the heck out of them...things came out of that shop looking perfect and never never homemade...leeann walser
AnnaM wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 9:38 PM
Maybe I should add that by "steaming" I mean having the garment flat, and holding the steam iron or steamer above the fabric, using my hands or fingers lightly to move or smooth the fabric.
To Deanna from CA, I'd say lay your lovely ribbed piece flat, and steam(s in my above post,)but don't touch it or move it! Let it dry as is. The steam will "dress" the ribbing, fluff the yarn, even the stitches, and work other miracles. Best wishes, Anna
AnnaM wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 9:31 PM
Blocking not only ensures that the knitting is the best shape it can be for my size, it makes it look much more finished and classy. In fact, After I have finished the garment completely, if it is OK for the yarn, I steam the seams open, and groom the edge finishes and joins so that it looks like a beautifully finished garment . To be honest, I am sometimes aghast at how some pattern samples are displayed "as is," all rumpled and stitches uneven in one or two yarn catalogues. Blocking and final steaming (if appropriate), evens out stitches and everything looks first class.
KayA wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 8:37 PM
I've blocked acrylic baby sweaters, but only because it makes seaming so much neater and easier. For the most part they go right back to their pre-blocked dimensions after washing, but it does let me seam in a flash.

[... But you're talking to someone who blocks everything. Including dishcloths if they're going to be given away.]
DeannaN wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 8:35 PM
Sandi, I'm thrilled to be following your posts and the blocking techniques were well timed since I'm at that point in a sweater I'm making for my son. The major pieces are complete and I need to block and assemble before I finish the neck. But then I read that for the ribbing you didn't pin. Thw entire sweater I just knit is in 3/5 ribbing! How do I block if the entire garment is ribbed?

Waiting on pins and needles,
Deanna Nielson
North Hollywood, CA
Elizal wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 8:34 PM
I'm from the "iron everything" generation, so I block acrylic
yarn with the steam from my iron.........I think it gives a more finished look.......
on Jul 27, 2007 8:20 PM
I am known in my group as the anti blocker. I even submitted a garment to the Orange County Fair that had no blocking, and won 3rd prize! (Imagine if i HAD blocked it!) but anyway, I did not block the bonsai tunic and I think it looks great, the yarn is shiny and the eyelets look real and not pressed down. I like texture and think that blocking can reduce the texture.
MarieG@2 wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 7:48 PM
Would you believe 26 grandchildren - Over the years lots of acrylic and blends for easy care. I put it on a towel - spray about medium amount place another towel on top and pat vigorously - makes a big difference in the finished look - downright professional! Marie G.
LindaW@8 wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 7:19 PM
Dawn S (earlier commenter) could be me! Intermediate knitter
Knittinmama wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 7:08 PM
Acrylic? I just pat it out. I used to knit lots of baby things in acrylic because its easy care. However I really appreciate your detailed instructions on blocking, especially lace as I'm working on a very lacy piece right now and want it to look perfect when finished
MargeD@2 wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 6:43 PM
Who knew blocking would be such a riveting concept! I have to admit to hardly ever blocking and, now that I'm reading your series, never blocking correctly. My question is, do I need to block the socks I'm knitting with bamboo yarn? I've been told there are no stupid questions. Marge D.
JaneB@3 wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 6:31 PM
RE: blocking acrylic... On the rare occasions I have used acrylic yarn, I toss it in the washer and wash and dry it as the care label directs.
~jane
Erica wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 6:18 PM
When I made a blanket using an acrylic/wool blend (Encore), blocking made the blanket look so much better. I almost always immerse my knitted items because then I know that I'm getting all of the dyes out before they are worn or used, especially for baby items. For the blanket, the immersion method was wonderful and it really made the wool puff in a way that I didn't expect. The blocked blanket looked even better than the newly finished blanket.
PatriciaS@3 wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 5:47 PM
I recently knitted a few blocks for an online afghan project. They were acrylic. I used the steam method and they came out very nice. I needed them to be a specific dimension so blocking was necessary in this case.

I am also crocheting with acrylic now for another project, I am not blocking these squares because to me they look fine without blocking. So different acrylic projects have different blocking requirements.
ConnieM wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 5:42 PM
I'll admit to having knitted lacy scarves in man-made fibers and then "killing" them with a steam iron. The resulting product drapes and softens like magic. You have to be very careful to avoid excess heat which results in hard, melted or scorched fabric. I've been known to block narrow, lacy wool or acrylic scarves with a steam iron also with good results but it requires nerves and concentration.
Connie
CharleneM wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 5:34 PM
I love the blocking mini series,its been quite helpful and Yes, I work with lots of man made fibers. I knit and crochet for family, friend and pets.My sisters are both fiber sensitive and so no wool. I personaly block and don't block, it depends on the article and Never Steam. I'll block if I have motifs that need to be consistant in shape and size or a seam that needs encouragemant.Always for anything in cotton or cotton blend, especially doillies. I usually experiment with a guage swatch, I usually make several for just this reason and when I get enough of the I'll combine them for a blankie for someone, dolls or a pet. Blocking is done about the same using the spray method and I use long, headed silk basting pins so I never loose one to the fibers.
DawnS@5 wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 4:59 PM
Intermediate knitter here -- and brand new to Knitting Daily. I have a question -- will it be necessary to block my knitted item after each time it is washed? Otherwise, how will it maintain its shape?
BethR wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 4:28 PM
Re: Blocking Acrylic

It depends. If the item is a closed stitch (garter, basketweave, etc.) then I'll wash it, lay it out and pat it into shape.

If it's lace, I'll wash it, block it like wool--stretch the bejabbers out of it--and then "kill" it with a stean iron. Killing adds drape, so if I want a slinky, rayon-like hand minus the handwashing and continual growth, I'll knit acrylic and kill it.

Spike
Imaknitter wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 4:25 PM
I have not knit with acrylics since I started hand knitting (which I now do exclusively), but back when I was a machine knitter I used a LOT of acrylics. They were mainly acrylic/nylon blends, but I found I got my best results with blocking the final product. Everything I blocked held its shape even after washing, however I do have to say that in many instances I "killed" the knitted pieces but still got beautiful results. I was taught to do this by a machine knitter who turned out exquisite garments. I was very careful with anything with texture, though, as it was very easy to ruin.
JenniferP wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 4:24 PM
Hmmm...I'm really not sure about blocking acrylic, because I have never tried, and I knit with mostly natural fibers and/or wool blends. I don't see why you would need to block it as far as making the stitches more even, because acrylic has a certain elasticity that keeps the stitches in shape. However, I think that it would make scratchy acrylics softer...

Check out this link about blocking acrylic: http://yarngear.blogspot.com/2005_08_01_archive.html
KarenM wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 4:07 PM
The thing about blocking acylic and man mades is that they do have pretty significant memeory, meaning once blocked, they are likely to go back to whatever shape they were pre blocking if washed. Knit lace shawls and acrylics will never work, severely blocked acrylic will always look like pre blocked wool or silk lace. One exceptional reason to block acrylic knitting is to even out stitch anomolies, that said, the easiest way to accomplish this is to just wash it. A good spin does acrylic items (afghans, etc) a world of good and will soften them TREMENDOUSLY. Drying pills acrylic though, so hang (or lay flat) to dry.
Acrylic is far better suited to crochet where the stitches themselves whip it into a pretty controlled shape.
KariS wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 4:03 PM
I've been knitting with acrylic for school project (I just finished a fiber BFA) because I am a cheap and poor student, and found that blocking them really helped before putting together. I usually steam and have a decent iron that puts out a bit and worked well about 1" above my work. But once I washed the whole thing and blocked them dry and that worked almost as well (except it requires a trip to the laudromat and quarters :-)
Seccotine wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 3:57 PM
Thank you so much for this thorough guide! I've learned so much, and
this will make my further projects easier to deal with! (Though I do
wish I had a real blocking board!)

But I am still left with one question: how do you block more "3D"
projects, for example the Mermaid Scarf (which I'm currently completing,
now that I've figured out how the second layer is meant to be done!)? If
both layers are laid flat, won't the second layer look too stiff and get
"stuck" on one side or another?
MiekeV wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 3:53 PM
Hi Sandi,
Help! I have always problems with edge-stitches. Are there different ones? Which do I use and when???
Thanks, Mieke
KatherineH wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 3:53 PM
Re: blocking man-made fibres... I know this is heresy in many knitting circles, but I rarely block /anything/, be it man-made, natural, or somewhere in between. My only exception is lace shawls, and even then I block pretty lightly. Blocking is always touted as being the cure for "uneven stitches" and to give your knitting "a more professional look". If your knitting is pretty even to begin with, you don't need to block. Don't just take it from me: my grandmother never blocked a thing in her life, and she learned how to knit in school.

Try blocking something, then not blocking a similar something from the same yarn before you finish them. If you can't tell the difference after a couple of wears, you don't need to block.
RitaW wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 3:49 PM
I am impressed by the sheer number of pins in the lace pattern! Having never used pins that way - I just pat the item out to size and pin around the edges, I have to ask if this many pins has an advantage or is it just OCD behavior (like knitting 5 swatches)?
Nittineedles wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 3:41 PM
Blocking man-made fibres is a waste of good knitting time. If the knit item doesn't immediately spring back when the pins are removed it will when it is washed.
RosiG wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 3:32 PM
I've bought numerous steamers in the past and cannot find a really good one. You say you love yours so much, I would love to know what brand/type you have so that I can look into it. Thanks in advance! Rosi G. aka The Soapy Knitter