July 16, 2010

How To: Wet Block a Knitted Object

I've finished knitting the baby jacket and it is drying on the blocking board. And now, a photo tutorial of how to wet block a knitted item!

Fill a sink or tub or something with lukewarm water. If you'd like, you can add a wool wash or a little bit of dish soap. Let sit for a bit (5-10 minutes should be good, depending on size).

Place the knitted object in the water and gently squeeze the air bubbles out of it. If you are working with a cotton then you don't have to worry about being as gentle, but don't go crazy. If you're working with wool, being careful is key as you can felt it with agitation. If you're working with acrylic... Don't bother blocking. It won't.

Gently lift the item out of the water, being careful not to let it stretch. I've heard of some ingenious people using colanders to do this. Refill the sink and repeat the process above, but without the soap. This is the rinsing step. Some wool washes don't need to be rinsed, so work according to the directions on the package if you're using a wash.

Once the garment is rinsed gently lift it again and squeeze out as much water as you can. Don't wring it! Just squeeze. Then, lay it on a towel and roll it up.

Now the idea is to get as much water out of the item in the towel burrito as possible. I generally use my hands, but some people stand on it. Do what you like.

Lay the piece on a block board, bed, towel, carpet, piece of cardboard.. Whatever you can find really. I use foam floor/exercise mats that I found at Lowe's for 18 bucks/4 pack. They're pretty much the same thing as the fancy blocking boards, only half the price!

(Since I knit this sweater as one piece with picked-up-and-knitted-sleeves, I didn't have individual flat pieces to block. So what I did was open it up and pinned down the back side first, then folded the fronts over and pinned them, as you can see in these two photos.)

Using RUST FREE (this is important) pins, pin the item to your surface of choice according to measurements of your pattern (if you have any) or til it looks about right to you. Stockinette does not need be to pulled too severely. Lace benefits from getting stretched like it was on the rack. Let your eyes be your guide. You can usually tell when it's good.

Let dry under a fan, out in the sun, or just alone. Release from its pin torture and present to the intended recipient!

A few notes:
  • You can see all my ends sticking out. I usually wait until after blocking to weave in the ends, that way the fabric is already stretched and I don't have to worry about them coming loose during blocking. 
  • Blocking will not fix severe issues, like being 4 inches too short. Believe me. Using the phrase "oh, it will block out" is an indication that you need to go back and fix it.... Just trust me on this.
  • If you are knitting an item that is to be seamed, block the pieces individually to measurement before you seam it up. This will help everything to line up better and then you can see before hand if you have any serious size discrepancies.
Blocking really does bring out the best in knitting. There have been quite a few items that I think look like crap until they have been blocked. It opens up the fibers and fills out the stitches, as well as aligns and stretches everything to give it a nice, crisp, finished look. My favorite thing to see before and after blocking is lace. Talk about a transformation.

Finished pictures of the jacket coming once, well... It's finished!


Farm Girl said...

I love tutorials! I think you did a really nice job on this one. The sweater turning out really great too.
I love that color! Have a great weekend.

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