Blocking your knitwear can really enhance your work by bringing out details and shaping. It can also make your garment sit better when wearing. Sometimes after knitting and sewing up I can be quite desperate to wear my work but will always try to block regardless. Without exception all lace work should always be blocked to open up the stitches
Most of the time after sewing in my ends I will wash my finished garment. I tend to use Soak, a delicate washing liquid in which you quite literally ‘soak’ your clothes. A sink full of cool water only needs a teaspoon of the washing detergent and you leave your garment submerged (soaking) for about 15 minutes. You should always check whether or not your yarn is colourfast but in most cases I’d only be washing one garment at a time so it’s never really a problem. The great thing about this washing liquid is that there is no need to rinse (yes, I did say no need). If your using Woolite or something similar you will have to rinse your garment through at least three times to get rid of any detergent.
After soaking you should squeeze out any excess water remembering not to wring as you could stretch your hard work. You can always place your work between towels and use pressure to extract more water (stand on it). If I’m honest however, I tend to tie the garment tightly into a clean pillowcase and put it in my washing machine on the spin cycle. You can control the intensity of spin on my machine which helps.
Once spun I pin the garment out to size on my childrens play mat using rust proof pins. You can of course buy expensive blocking mats, they tend to be made of the same material as the mat I use but come complete with the measurements on them.
If you don’t have these mats you can use several old towels or maybe your ironing board for smaller projects. The mats are easy to locate, I have 2 packs one of which was bought in Tesco whilst the other was bought in Smyths Toy Shop.
Use the actual measurements if available on your pattern. My waistcoat is supposed to be blocked to 36″ around the chest, but after being washed the yarn has relaxed a little and it is coming up at 38″. I’m happy with the extra roominess but would always advise you knit, wash and dry your tension square to ensure you knit the correct size. Obviously, I didn’t do that here – oops!
I have used the pins to ensure my bands and collar lie properly (I hope so anyway) and have inserted extra pins under each bobble on the pockets to try and make them stand proud when dry.
You will tend to find drying your work can take some time. If at all possible try to leave it somewhere warm. If using towels underneath you might find you will have to change them to prevent them from becoming smelly and in turn making your garment a little musty.
This is the method I tend to use to block my work although there are other methods. If at all possible avoid using an iron to press your garments as this can make your stitches flatten or worse still if you’ve used acrylic, melt. The only time I would have used an iron is if my garment had been made in 100% cotton. Then I held the iron above the work and used the steam from it to help set the garment. If you’re in a rush you can pin the garment out first, spritz with water from a plant spray and leave to dry.
Please Note:- Be careful when blocking rib, I know one person who stretched her stitches so tightly that when dry the rib was completely flat. Remember you are trying to enhance your work.
If you haven’t tried it before why not block your next project to see the difference.