Wednesday, January 12, 2011


One of the questions I get a lot from other knitters is how to block. It scares a lot of people - I get questions from non-knitters who don't want to dry clean their knitwear. I don't blame them, I don't go in for dry cleaning if I can help it.
You can block in various ways, has some great tutorials, but I like to full on wet block, or wash my knitting. Fiber content will also factor in, but i find most anything can be washed if you're careful. In addition to blocking and shaping, I like my sweaters to actually be clean.
So, since we're now on our 3rd snow day, I thought I'd do a visual blocking tutorial:
You will need lukewarm water, baby shampoo, 2 sets of towels and a basin large enough to submerge the piece you're washing without smooshing it.

You might also want "help"

Fill your basin with lukewarm water - it should feel neutral to your hand, maybe slightly warm. Imagine you're washing a baby or cat. $$ There are 3 things that will shrink and felt wool (actually once it's a garment you're fulling, rather than felting); heat (not just too much heat, but shocking wool, ie going from hot to cold quickly) detergent and agitation. So, controlling your temperature is important. Keep the water the same temperature for the washing and rinsing. $$
Once you have filled the basin add the shampoo (or wool wash like Euclan, I like baby shampoo because it's cheap and readily available and it's designed to clean something made of protein) between 1-3 teaspoons, depending on the size of what you're washing/blocking and froth the water to disperse the soap throughout. Drop in your knitting.

Prod gently to make the water and soap reach all the fibers. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. You'll probably notice some dye bleeding out if your piece is new, some grey dirt if it's older. If you're seeing a great deal of either, drain your container and repeat.

Next you need to rinse out your knitting, so repeat the first step (minus the soap) until the water is clear; no soap bubbles, no color.
Now gently press out the water - don't wring, just press against the side of the basin, turn the work and repeat.

Now lay out your first towel flat on a counter or other waterproof surface and lay out you piece on it. Doesn't need to be shaped, just laid flat in a single layer.

Now roll up the towel into a big cigar:

Now press firmly all along the roll the remove water. The towel will wick away water and pad you pressing to keep the piece from stretching. The towel is also insurance against agitation, which can cause felting/pilling. When you unroll the piece you'll see the absorbed water in the towel:
Repeat this process with the second towel. Leaving a little water in your piece helps to shape it but too much will make it stretchy and blocking evenly will be harder. Also, too much water will take a long time dry out and possibly bleed onto your bed/couch/rug which isn't great.
Finally lay the piece out in a warm dry place, shaping gently for a garment, using wires or pins for something like a shawl:
I'd suggest using a towel under your piece on a bed or rug. For small things like socks, the bricks of the fireplace work just fine.

No comments:

Post a Comment