Learning how to block knitting and crochet is an essential skill every knitter or fiber artist must learn to do. Recently, we have been knitting squares for our 52-week afghan. In order to join these squares, you will need to block each square once you’ve finished knitting it. If you are like me at all, blocking is not the best part of knitting, but it is quite necessary for your knits to look their best.
This article is an update for those who are busy blocking their 2016 Sampler Afghan project we’ve been working on all year. Here are 3 great methods depending primarily on the type of yarn you chose to use. Please read carefully and block each square before you lay out your blanket to join them.
How to block knitting
I’ve been asked if I block everything I knit and to be truthful I don’t, but I should and I do when it counts. If you ever owned a sweater you might have noticed the cleaning tag says to wash in cold and lay flat to dry. The reason you need to know how to block ng is simple, it maintains the shape of your sweater, blanket, or square.
Tools you will need to block your knits:
- blocking board
- rust proof pins
- steamer or steam iron
- spray bottle
- care label for your yarn
Your board needs to be large enough to hold your square. It needs to be able to accept heat, moisture, and pins. A bed or a carpeted floor work well for large knit projects. I use rubber squares and cover them with a towel for smaller projects. (You can find them fairly inexpensive at Lowe’s hardware). An ironing board works well for small pieces too. Just so long as the knit item does not hang over the sides of your board. Make sure to leave undisturbed until completely dry.
How you choose to block your knits depends on a few things. The yarn type, of course, your method preference and how you intend to use your knit item. Most of your natural fibers do best with wet or dry blocking such as cotton, wool, linen or mohair. However, some synthetic yarns may be ruined by blocking and may not benefit at all including yarns with metallic threads. These may need special handling.
Making a swatch is great for checking your gauge, but swatches are also great for determining the best blocking method for your yarn. Too much heat can cause some synthetics yarns to become shiny and limp ruining the drape.
How to block knitting using the wet method should only be used on yarn that can handle being completely soaked in water. Never twist or wring the water out. Gently squeeze or pat out as much as you can. Then lay flat, reshape and pin to the correct measurements. For 3 dimensional projects, you can stuff with plastic bags and for round items like bowls and baskets you can use balloons or lay over a bowl. A fan helps to speed up the drying time.
How to block knitting using the dry technique which is a bit misleading since we are essentially wetting our knits by using a steaming method. Pin knits to the correct measurements. Pins should be close together without stretching fabric too much, smooth out any bumps or grooves the best you can. Hold your steam iron over your knits without touching the fabric approximately 1″ and thoroughly steam the entire piece. Then wait for it to dry. (Steam is HOT! Be careful!)
How to block your knitting using the cold method is for yarn that can handle being wet but can’t handle being heated. This method is most likely best for your synthetics. Simply use a water bottle to spritz your pinned knit piece and wait for it to dry. If you do have a difficult area that doesn’t want to lay flat you can use your hands, the warmth from them will help to flatten your piece.
I have added a video for each type of blocking just to give some good examples. I tried to find videos that addressed different types of blocks (lace, cables, etc.) as well as different techniques. Whenever possible I look for funny quirky videos or short ones that get the point. Hopefully, in the future, I will be able to make these videos for you. Just a quick note: I am aware the kitty is sitting on a crochet afghan for those knitters that are screaming that’s not knitted. LOL!