You've carefully followed your pattern and knit and purled with care. You've bound off your work and weaved in your ends. Still, something doesn't seem quite right about your "finished" knitting project. It's curling up and bulging in places where it should lay flat, and some areas are stretched while others are pulled too tight. What can you do to help your knitting project look more shapely and complete? Block it! I'll show you how.
- Straight pins. Just about any type of straight pins will work for blocking your knitted projects. The number of pins you will need depends on the size of your project. However, you should have enough to place about one pin per each 2.5cm (about 1 inch) around the perimeter of your project.
- Current knitting project. Make sure you've got a completed knitting project that you've bound-off of your knitting needles. You can also get in a little blocking practice by using a knitted swatch.
- A bucket, sink, or bathtub. Depending on the size of your project, and/or what you have available to you, you can use a bucket, a sink, a bathtub, or any other container to block your work. Just make sure the container you use is large enough to fully submerge your knitting project.
- A towel. The size of your towel will depend on the size of you knitted project. Some projects may only need a small hand towel, while others may require multiple beach towels. Just make sure that your project can lay flat on the folded towel without hanging off of the edge of the towel.
- Warm water.
Step 1: Fill Bucket
Whether you're using a bathtub, a sink, a bucket, or some other container, make sure to fill it with just enough water to fully submerge your knitting project. The water should be nice and warm.
Step 2: Submerge Your Project
Once your bucket is full, grab your knitted project and give it a dunk. You may have to hold it under the water for a while to prevent it from floating back up to the top. Once it has absorbed enough water, it should stay submerged on its own, allowing you to let go.
Step 3: Continue to Soak
Leave your project in the water, letting it continue to soak, for about 30 minutes. Larger projects (such as full length sweaters and blankets) may need more time.
Step 4: Remove Project From Water
After half an hour, carefully remove your project from the water. You should notice that soaking up water has caused your project to grow and breath, leaving very defined stitches.
At this point, you will be tempted to wring out the water from your project, but fight that urge! Wringing out your project can cause the stitches to twist, pull, and become misshapen. Instead of wringing, carefully press some of the excess water out of your project. It's okay if it's still very wet, that will be taken care of in the next step.
Step 5: Fold the Towel
Lay your project flat on one end of a towel. Then, carefully start making small folds in your towel, starting on the end your project is on, and moving down towards the other end of the towel. Make sure to press down hard with each new fold.
When the folds have reached the other end of your towel, spend a minute of two really pressing down hard on the towel. This will remove any excess water from your project.
Step 6: Shape the Project
Once you've removed most of the excess water from your knitted piece, carefully unfold your towel and remove the project. Then, fold your towel back up so that it forms a cushioned surface that is large enough to hold your project when it is laid out flat on top of it.
Tip: If, at this point, you notice that your towel is more wet than dry, it would be a good idea to switch to a new towel. This will help to speed up the drying process.
Now that your project is laying flat on top of your folded towel, carefully mould it into the shape that you would like it to take. Some areas may require a slight stretch while others may need to be pressed back into place. Work your way around the perimeter of your project, laying everything flat as you go.
Step 7: Pin the Project
When you've finished shaping and everything is to your liking, it's time to start pinning. Take your straight pins and begin working your way around the perimeter of your project, pinning it down (the pins should go down through your project and anchor into the folded towel). Pins should be placed around the outside of the project about every 2.5cm (1 inch).
Once you're finished, double check your work to make sure there are no unwanted curls, snags, or bulges. Repin areas if necessary.
Step 8: Remove Pins
It is extremely important that you don't unpin or move your project until it is completely dry. Doing so could undo all of the blocking work that you've just done. It can be agonizing waiting for a project to finish drying, but it's better to be safe than sorry. For this reason, I almost always give my projects more drying time than I think they really need (I usually give them a whole day to dry). Drying time for knitted creations certainly varies, taking anywhere from hours to days depending on the project size and the type of yarn used.
However, once the project is dry, it will finally be totally completed! Just remove the pins and enjoy your work that has gone from curled and misshapen to even and sturdy.
Many knitters block their work, while others simply bind-off, weave in their ends, and call it good. So where do you lie on the spectrum? Are you a blocker, non-blocker, or somewhere in-between? Let us know in the comment section below!