Blocking Knitting: How To for Beginners

 
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I want to preface this post with a question. Do you block your knitting?

I've taught workshops to people who have been knitting for YEARS who look at me blankly when I tell them they should be blocking their knitting. I always find this shocking, because I think it is hands down one of the most important elements in creating a polished and professional finish!

Essentially, blocking knitting is just the process of washing our knitted piece, then pinning it out to dry in the exact shape we want it. Natural fibres (mainly animal fibres) are actually very malleable when wet. If you've got longish hair, you'll know that the general advice is to not brush it when it's wet, as it's much more elastic. The same goes for animal fibre (read: hair).

Blocking out your work fixes a multitude of sins. If you have some stitches that are slightly wonky looking, or a slightly more trapezium shaped square than you would like, you can ease the wet stitches to do as you say!

Now, I'd like to pop in a slight disclaimer here: the results you get from this may vary if you're using acrylic yarn. The jury states that you can't block acrylic knitting, but I disagree. I have seen it improve the overall appearance of less than perfect acrylic knitting (in fact, the swatch I use in this very post is 100% acrylic), but be aware that it might not work the way you'd like it to.

So, how do you go about blocking knitting? Keep reading and I'll tell you!

What you will need:

 
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Step 1:

Fill your washing-up bowl with lukewarm water, and add a splodge of your soap so it's nice and sudsy.

Step 2:

 
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Put your piece of knitting into the water, and give it a gentle squeeze under the water. You want to completely saturate the fibres. If you're using an animal fibre, you definitely DO NOT want to agitate the knitting, as it will felt it all together, and then all of your hard work will be wasted.

Step 3:

Supporting the whole piece of fabric in your hands (wool stretches easily when it's wet, so you need to make sure it doesn't or it will end up all misshapen) Rinse the bubbles from your piece until gently flowing cold water.

Step 4:

Lay the knitted fabric on the towel, roll it up and gently squeeze the excess water from it.

Step 5:

 
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This is the bit that really makes the difference. Using either your foam mat (kids play mats are fab for this) or a folded up towel, lay the knitting onto it and adjust the shape so it looks how you want it to look. Then, secure the edges with your blocking pins, being careful to keep the edges straight, and not overstretching them.

Step 6:

 
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Leave to dry. I usually pop mine in front of the fire in Winter, or outside in the sun in Summer.

Tadaaah! A beautifully neat piece of knitting, living up to its full potential!

If you're interested in this stitch pattern, it's from The Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible, which I've reviewed on my blog here!