The web is full of articles and blog posts about how to block finished knits. I don’t feel like it’s that deep of a subject, but it’s one that everyone has their own idiosyncratic little twist on. Which is what I love about these Q for You discussions — you just never know what ingenious things might be said!
I know that virtually everything should be “blocked” when the knitting or crocheting is finished, as it not only allows you to shape your finished piece into its finest glory, but it also causes the individual stitches to stop resisting and relax into their new poses. It’s absolutely critical for all kinds of things I don’t actually knit, like intricate lace shawls with scalloped edges. Some will find this scandalous or naive, but I personally think it’s less critical for the kinds of things I knit. I do block my sweaters. I block a shawl even if it’s just a triangle, because it will be a much, much nicer triangle after blocking. But I don’t always block the little stuff — mitts and hats and such — especially if they’re just ribbing and/or stockinette. I figure it won’t be long before they need a soak for cleaning purposes anyway, am I right?
My blocking method is totally 101: I fill a plastic tub or large bowl with barely lukewarm water and some rinseless wool wash. (Like Eucalan or Soak.) I drop in the knitted item, squeeze it a little bit, very gently, to get it good and waterlogged. Then I leave it for at least half an hour. When it’s had a good soak, I hold it against the side of the bowl and tip out all of the water. Then I press it against the side of the bowl, pour out that water; repeat. When I’ve gotten out as much as I can, I gently squeeze it (never wring it) in my hands. Then I lay the object flat on a dry towel (or two, depending), roll up the towel, and stand on it, walking back and forth across the towel roll if it contains a sweater, before laying the knit flat on a dry towel on my kitchen table, shaping it as necessary. To speed up the drying process and, more important, keep the cats away, I point a fan at it while it dries. The only time I have ever felt the need to use blocking wires and pins was my Textured Shawl, and in that case it was well worth the extra effort.
I know other people use shampoo, salad spinners, spin cycles on top-loading washers, and also have VERY strong opinions about blocking … so let’s hear it. What’s your blocking process or best tips?
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