Why and How block your knits

Often, the people with whom I speak knitting, end of project and blocking do not understand this term, or what it is used for and even less how to do it. It’s a simple technique but there are a few things you should know to make your knitting look as good as the designers pictures.


Blocking


Well, as one of my Biology teacher used to say "it says what it means".

That's it ! Thanks for reading, see you in a bit 😘.


What ?? You want more ?? 🤔🤔 Ok, let's go then !


Knitting, like all manual crafts, cannot be as regular as machine work. Our hands, our mood, our tension, the composition of the threads, the stitches used have an impact on the shape and amount of wool that there is in a stitch. If a stitch is different, those that precede and follow it are also going to change accordingly. This affects the rows and therefore the entirety of the knitting. The blocking will be used to rebalance the wool on the row then on the entire piece, to correctly define the patterns of the lace or give a little flexibility to the cables and therefore to define well the shape of the garment or accessory. The blocking is effective on natural materials: cotton, linen, hemp, animal wool (merino, silk, alpaca ...). Acrylic* doesn’t block!


*If your acrylic project roll on the side, a border in garter / seed stitch might be necessary.


Another significant advantage is that the blocking will allow you to wash your knitting! Maybe you will have knitted it very quickly, but sometimes ... Some knitting are slower ... They are in the project bags or in boxes waiting for us to pick them up and finish them, or it has been a while since you have the wool at home ... In any case, there is a little dust and dirt. A little wash never hurts 😉


The blocking serves to relax all the stitch with respect to each other in a water bath so that during drying they take their final shapes and places.

Pratical example

I knitted a few mini shawls in cotton. All increases are made with yarn over that create openwork and irregularities.

Mini nothing like shawl

There are 2 triangular shawls, one in a semi-circular and a "heart shape". Clearly, they look like nothing. We do not see the shape of the mini shawls, nor the openwork, the edges roll ... In short ... Although they only took 30min each, the result is not optimal and nobody would like them😖😖😖


However, all our knits have these defects! The only difference is that they are larger, the number of stitches and the amount of wool erase *a little* these defects, but they are there. To go from that ☝ to that 👇, you just have to block your knitting.


2 triangular shawls, 1 semi-circular and 1 heart-shape

The Method


Blocking involves leaving your knitted fabric soaked in water. The stitches and all the fibers will soak up water and relax. Then by extracting the most of the water and allowing to dry in the desired shape all the beauty of the knitting will come out.


It's as simple as that: wet, remove excess water and allow to dry.

But there are a few nuances to keep in mind so here are my tips.


Water and soap


There are soaps without rinsing specially designed for knitwear. It is possible to let your knitting soak with or without soap. For soap, find and use the mildest and if possible rinse free. Special detergent, Eucalan soap, organic products, even baby shampoo. From a few drops to a teaspoon in water is enough. Like making bread, for the yeast to activate, the water must be neither too cold nor too hot to avoid thermal shock when the water is heated or cooled. Room temperature water is ideal. Wet your entire knit, water should permeate all of your stitches. Don't wave him, you could felt it (and reduce its size!). On the other hand, to help the water to penetrate well into the fiber you can push it into the water by hand. Do you see the lighter stitch between my fingers? The water has not yet permeated this stitch well ... There are several in this case, there are even a few air bubbles which continued to rise while I took the photos. So leave your knitting in the bath, forget it for 15 to 30 minutes😉.

Spinning / Remoove excess water

I don't really like this term ... It reminds me of the soaked tea towels or beach towel that we twist in all directions to remove the water ... Do you visualize ?? Good.

DON'T EVER TO THAT TO YOUR KNITS

After soaking, all the fiber is impregnated with water. It is heavy, elastic but also fragile. By wringing it this way, you will stretch your knitting and distort it. It will be unrecoverable! It is certain that you want to remove as much water as possible because the less water there is the faster it will dry, but it is not a microfiber that you have in your hands 😉. Without twisting your knitting and to remove most of the water easily, you can squeeze your knitting in your hands or in your sink. To remove the rest of the water, you have 2 options:

  1. roll your piece in the towels.

  2. centrifuge it in your salad spinner 🤯 yes, you read that right 🤯


Let's start with the towels

Depending on your knitting, choose more or less large towels. Spread them out on the floor and lay your knit flat on top. Then roll up the towel with the knitting in the middle like a burrito 🌯🤤. Roll the set up and crush it well so that the towels absorb as much water as possible. As long as your towels absorb, keep going. Keep in mind that you want to remove as much water as possible before blocking it. So don't hesitate to use several towels.


Little con: you now have a moist knit piece and damp towels to dry...


The salad spinner! The spinner allows the use of centrifugal force. Using this mechanical force, the excess water will be expelled definitively and effortlessly from your piece. You will even be able to remove more water with the spinner than from the towels. When you roll your knitting in the towel, the water goes from knitting to towel. But because there is contact, the transfer is not definitive, part of the moisture remains in the knitted fabric. While with your spinner, the knit is no longer in contact with the expelled water, so it cannot reabsorb it.

All that water can be thrown in the sink and will never be in contact with your knit.

Mini shawls at the bottom of a salad-spinner

There are many advantages to using the spinner. You will save time, space and effort. The centrifugal force will expel the water outside your knitting even more effectively than towels. Put your knitting in the basket, close the lid and spin your heart out. When the water collects at the bottom, remove it and repeat until there is no more expelled water. And that's all !

Less water in your knitting = faster drying!

Be careful, there are a few things to check before putting your piece in the spinner:

  • When you spin, make sure the basket spins at the same time as the system hanging on the lid!

If there is an offset or your basket does not rotate with the mechanism, it is possible that a stitch clings to the cover and that it is pulled by itself which damages your knitting ...

  • Make sure your spinner is big enough for your project!

Large sweaters or shawls (especially thick yarn) may not fit. I'm petite (size S, 36/38) and my spinner is quite small. I still manage to get a sweater in it.


  • From time to time "balance" the weight of your project in the wringer.

By spinning the project, it is possible that some parts accumulate at a point. The rotation will no longer be done correctly. You will feel the spinner bumping around, you will get tired, damage your spinner and possibly injure yourself if you lose control. If you've never used a salad spinner to remove water, try a sample. You will immediately see the difference in the amount of water remaining.


Blocking


Finally, here we are! The next step is to dry the project flat for the time it takes for all of the remaining water to evaporate. You can use a sports mat, yoga mat, dedicated mats, floor mats / games for children anything that can be pierced by needles and that will not keep moisture! If you use a towel, some of the moisture will be absorbed by the towel. But all this water will have to evaporate in one way or another. THE ONLY passage will again be by your knitting… You therefore increase the drying time… In this case, place plastic (trash bag or other) between your knitting and the towel. The water will only have one direction to evaporate, from the knit up. The blocking will give the final form to your project. It is therefore important to understand that you need to be precise when placing the pins. It is now that the terms "block gently" vs "block aggressively" will take on their full meaning.


In the case of a soft blocking, put your knitting and pin it without pulling it too much to give it its shape. In the case of an aggressive blocking* (generally in the case of lace), it will be necessary to stretch the knitting to open all the lace designs. I tend to start slowly to give the general shape then to move the needles 1 to 2 more times stretching a little bit more each time to open the knitting until I'm satisfied. * Warning: aggressive does not mean pulling like crazy on your knit !! Stretch step by step until you get the dimensions you want.


How to easily block?


In the case of triangular and semi-circulare shawls, there is a right / flat side. I do begin with that easy side and pin it parallel to my mat (arrows 1 & 2).

I will then pass on to the perpendicular direction (arrow 3) to stretch the center.

There remain the sides 4 & 5, I stretch them toward the outside and external tips and try to keep the sides flat too.


By blocking in a logical and organized way, it is possible to block many forms without going crazy.

Go from the easiest part : a flat side for a triangle, the center for the heart-shape shawl and work your way in order to keep the most difficult side for the end.



It is possible to buy blocking kits. It is a set of T-pins and rigid or flexible rods. The rigid rods are tucked into the stitches on the flat sides to ease obtaining straight sides. The flexibles rods are use for the curves to create a nice regular rounding.

Have you ever blocked your knits ? What is your best tips for blocking ??

Thanks for reading, feel free to share and comment 😘😘