I became interested in blocking a little while ago when I started to knit lace. As you surely already know, lace requires to be blocked to reveal it’s full beauty.

See for yourself, blocking makes this:

Before Blocking

Become this:

Waiting for it to dry

So having designed patterns that require to be blocked for the lace to bloom, I thought a good idea to do a little post on the subject.

First, let’s start with what is really blocking and what purposes it serves.
Blocking is a technique where you wet the fibers of your project, using various methods, to relax them in order to be able to shape them or arrange them the way you want them to be. See, easy right?

What is important to remember is that blocking is really effective on natural fibers. All synthetic fibers won’t respond well to it. However there’s a method called “killing” that will allow some results with these yarns but it’s not without risks and it must be considered carefully. But maybe more on this subject in another post.

My main reason to do it is the better finish that it gives to a piece. Stitches seems to magically become even, the rolling edges of stockinette will lay flat therefore making the sewing and finishing of the piece much more easier, the edges can be made to stay straight or scalloped etc… Overall, the finished object looks better, feels better, drapes better! There’s no real negative aspect of blocking if you do it right and that’s one of the many wonderful things about it.
Plus, it doesn’t take a lot of time to do, only to dry and while you’re waiting, nothing stops you from knitting something else! 😉

Even if there’s different methods one can use to block knitting projects, the basic principle stays the same. So keep in mind that you’ll have to involve water (so rustproof pins and waterproof surfaces are mandatory!) and be sure you let your piece dry COMPLETELY before being able to sew or wear it!

For blocking shawls, my favorite method is wet blocking.

For doing this, you will need water, rustproof pins and a waterproof surface such as a blocking mat. Personally, blocking mat are not available in my area, so I use the closest thing I could find, a yoga mat. But be sure to clean it beforehand, you don’t want sweat on your knitting! Otherwise beds or sofas are good alternatives.

Material

If you’re washing your knitting, liquid detergent or even better, a no-rinse liquid laundry soap such as Soak or Eucalan. Have also a tape measure at hand if you plan on following specific dimensions. And if you have straight edges to block, a set of blocking wires or very fine knitting needles makes it easier.

Soaking

Soak your knitting in tepid water using the soap’s instructions and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Then CAREFULLY remove it from the water, taking very good care not twisting or hanging it. Remember that wool is very fragile when wet so be gentle when squeezing it!

To remove the maximum of water, I like to wrap it in a towel and step on it! Fun and efficient, what more to ask?

Towel wrap

Then place your knitting on the blocking mat and start giving it shape. I prefer to start with the straight edges by inserting the fine knitting needles into the border.

Staightening the edge

Then fixing them with pins onto the mat.

Fixing with pins

Next is the border. Use pins to shape it the way you want to. For example, for a scalloped edge, I like to use a lot of pins so it doesn’t become pointy once dry. It’s a little bit longer but really worth it!

Scalloped edges

Pheww, you’re all done! Now relax and admire your work!

Has this been helpful? How do you block your knitting?

  • I’m just knitting a shawl and was wondering how to block it. Your explanation was very useful. I’m looking for ta big children’s jigsaw mat to pin it out on. As I work in a charity shop I’ll probably see one soon.
    Heather

    • Coralie

      Thanks! I’m very happy this post was helpful! 🙂
      Don’t forget to show us a picture of your finished shawl!

  • Xavier

    Tu as de l’Eucalan!? Tu la trouves où? Je l’achète une fortune au Royaume-Uni.

    • Coralie

      Je l’ai trouvé à Créativa, 20.- la bouteille. Sinon tu peux la trouver de temps en temps dans les boutiques de laines. Si jamais tu dis et la prochaine fois que j’en vois, je t’en prend une!

  • Erin Turnbull

    Thank you for your information! I will try blocking my shawl when it is finished and let you know the outcome.

    • So glad it was useful for you!
      Looking forward to see the finished shawl. 🙂