Lesson 6: Blocking! Before and After
What is blocking you ask? It is the process by which you get the finished object (FO) wet, and set it to dry the way you want it to look finished. Different fibres block in different ways, but the traditional wool knitted object has a memory.
It is essentially the wash your sweater and lay flat to dry. If you have ever put it on a hanger to dry, you see you have a long stretched out sweater by the time it actually dries. Not to fear though, its not permanent! (At least not with wool). If you end up with a funky shape or distorted object, just rinse and repeat! With lacy objects or ones that you want in a specific shape, we can get a little more fancy than simply patting object into place and waiting.
- First things first, wash your FO. I like to do this by hand (even with superwash yarn) in a small bucket with a little bit of wool rinse. I use lukewarm water. If you have a bit of a scratchy wool, you can actually add some conditioner (just your run of the mill hair conditioner works, wool is a natural fibre like your hair after all!).
- Let your object soak for a few minutes to make sure it is fully wet. Wool does have a crazy absorbency factor.
- Carefully squeeze excess water out of your object – DON’T WRING! You don’t want to accidentally felt (hurt) your yarn. After a first squeeze, I roll my object up in a towel and press the excess water out (usually by kneeling on my towel as pictured below).
- Using non-rusting T-pins (or other type of pin if you are so inclined), carefully pin your object out onto a blocking mat. You can use all sorts of things as blocking mats, my favourite though is an interlocking foam mat that you can buy from a discount big box store like Walmart.
- With a tubular object, I like to make sure that the bottom layer is even with the top layer and pin through both.
- More pins along a straight edge will help with scalloping. You can also utilize blocking wires to help with a straight edge.
- Wait for your FO to fully dry before unpinning.
- Take a picture and show off your awesome knitting project! I recommend Ravelry of course!
Now bask in the praise of your hard work and await all of the requests for you to whip up a knitted object for friends and family. Its quick and easy right? 😉
Bonus lesson: I have extra yarn, what do I do with it?
So after a while, you start to accumulate lots of little balls of leftover yarn. Most knitters can’t bear to throw it out, and quite often it is not enough for anything substantial. You start to collect a lot of “scrap yarn” projects. Some will knit or crochet blanket squares or something similar. I like doing headbands, fingerless mittens if I have more than just a teeny amount, or just saving it for a rainy day.
In this case, I thought it would be nice to have a matching headband, and it seemed like I should have enough.
Using the same needles from the cowl, I cast on 84 stitches in the round and K1,P1 for 13 rounds then bound off.