Blocking massive items

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Top 75 Contributor
Posts 75
on Feb 13, 2013 5:20 PM

Hi fellow knitaholics! I hope you've all been well over the holidays.

I've been doing a lot of research into the blocking of different fibres, and all of my findings say that animal hair yarn should be submerged in water and then laid flat.

Since I do not have any large furniture surfaces on which to lay a big knitted item, I am thinking of doing the following:

  1. Laying plastic on the floor
  2. Putting a thick double-bed blanket (or two blankets) on top of the plastic
    • (note: I just happen to have some big blankets - I don't actually have a double-bed to put stuff onto)
  3. Pinning my knit item to the blankets and waiting until it's dry.

Has anyone else successfully blocked things in this manner? How long does it take for an item to dry in this way? Does the water actually evaporate, or just get logged into the blankets against the plastic? I don't want to end up with a wet item lying on my floor for a ridiculous amount of time, and I definitely don't want it to end up smelling of damp.

I've never knit with pure wool before - only acrylic and plants - so anything that you can teach me is appreciated!


Top 10 Contributor
Posts 808
salmonmac wrote
on Feb 14, 2013 3:45 AM

Hi, I've blocked large wool items on a rug but I just pin them out dry to the correct dimensions and then spray them well with water. Let them dry completely plus another 24 hours and that's it. Perfectly blocked, even stitches and nice pattern definition

Top 200 Contributor
Posts 28
Schnucki wrote
on Feb 14, 2013 4:36 AM


if it's really pure wool than it might smell like host a sheep in your home as long as the wool is wet. Big Smile

Just give it a try´!



Top 75 Contributor
Posts 75
on Feb 14, 2013 9:33 AM

Salmonmac, thanks very much for your advice - I didn't realise that you could pin wool out dry (all the instructions out there seem to say that you simply HAVE to bath the wool in a sink and then towel-dry it before pinning). This will definitely prevent a huge amount of hassle.

@ Shnucki - er, let's hope it doesn't stink too badly, as the only place I can do floor-blocking is in my bedroom. Sheep don't smell that bad, do they?? Hmm

Top 25 Contributor
Posts 166
marywoods wrote
on Feb 14, 2013 12:22 PM

Dear askhouse01,

When it comes to blocking large items I found a really cool item.  I went to the sporting goods section of my local K-mart store and bought a set of interlocking high density foam floor mats.  When they are put together it gives you a space that is six foot by six foot to work with and can be configured for any shape garment.  They are made out of the same material as my smaller blocking mats that I purchased on line at  Knit Picks.  They cost me $20 at K-mart.  You can probably find them at any large department store that has a sporting goods or automotive section.  Nice thing about them is that they come apart and store flat .  And the items dry fairly quick when pinned to that rather than blankets or plastic.

As for the wool smell, if you use a good wool wash such as SOAK, Kukkaburra or Eucanlan wool wash, it will have no smell or a slightly sweet smell.  I use Kookaburra and it smells like eucalyptus in the house when I block something which is a rather pleasant smell.  Look for a wool wash that has either tea tree oil or lavender in them as these are natural insecticides and will keep the wool moths at bay.  Also, never store natural fiber garments in plastic.  This causes the fibers to breakdown and shortens the life of your hand-knit garment.

As for blocking, I always do what is referred to as "wet" blocking the first time I block a garment or pieces of a garment.  This is letting the garment or pieces soak for at least 20 minutes and then rolling them in a towel to get most of the surface moisture out.  Then I block them to the measurements listed in the pattern.  I only do this once right after I make it.   It can also be done to reshape garments if necessary.

Mary Woods

Ravenwood Designs

Top 200 Contributor
Posts 28
Schnucki wrote
on Feb 15, 2013 3:52 AM

Hi askhouse01, well my best friend's Bordercollie really loves the smell of wet pure wool. May be it's a question of attitude... I would sugest to just give it a try. In case it really stinks we have something funny to talk about when we're old Wink

@ Mary: Great idea! Thank you for that!!

Top 75 Contributor
Posts 75
on Feb 15, 2013 4:33 AM

Mary, you're just awesome! Thanks so much for all of this great advice.

I have just gone to re-organise my yarn stash immediately upon reading that organics should not be stored in plastic - I had most of my natural fibre yarn stored in the plastic that they came in, but I've taken them all out and put them into a large paper bag with some tissue paper to keep the dust off them. I really appreciate your sharing this with me Gift !

As for wet blocking, I am really going to have to figure out how to do all of this soaking and towel-rolling in the tiny space that I have available. The interlocking mat is a very good start. I'm used to steam- and spray-blocking though, so I hope I can do this right Tongue Tied .

Shnucki, yes I'm sure a Border Collie would love the smell of sheep, but what about those of us who don't make a living from chasing Ovis Aries around??

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Posts 12
Chris_Cabala wrote
on Feb 15, 2013 1:57 PM

I think setting up an oscilating fan near the item to move the air around it will help it to dry quicker.  I wouldn't use any type of heater to dry the item as this may cause excessive shrinkage.

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 808
salmonmac wrote
on Feb 16, 2013 9:24 AM

Definitely no heat but a fan is a good idea. It doesn't have to be aimed at the piece, just moving air above it will work well. It won't take all that long to dry either.

Top 75 Contributor
Posts 75
on Feb 18, 2013 1:17 PM

Chris_Cabala & Salmonmac, thanks for this really helpful input - I'll definitely set up a fan at "person-height" to get my work to dry faster.

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