Week 3: Blocking
lectures tells us all about how to block your work!
It seems utterly incredible to me now that once upon a time I had never heard of blocking. Not heard of it. Not at all. Now, I could not consider a piece finished until it has been blocked. What a difference it makes to how I feel about my finished objects! (FOs) No longer am I slightly disappointed with how they turn out. Now they have the beautiful smooth, even appearance I hoped for. Perhaps you are the same and you haven't yet heard about the wonder of blocking? Perhaps you have heard about it but aren't quite sure how or why you would do it? Here is my quick tutorial:
HOW TO WET BLOCK
So this is a lace crochet shawlette, using a merino lace weight yarn but the principles are fairly similar knit or crochet and for yarns with a high wool content (I will discuss other fibres at the end) and apply to anything flat. (I'll talk about 3D blocking a little at the end):
This is a before shot. Looks quite nice but it is a bit scrunched up and nowhere near big enough.
For comparison here are the pre-blocking measurements.
- Blocking mats (these are actually kids play mats, the foamy plastic kind you can buy pretty cheaply. You can buy real blocking mats or interlocking gym floor tiles or pin it directly onto a mattress (although the plastic is good because it will dry quicker)
- A no rinse soak - I like Euclan but there are lots of brands available (but I doubt you can beat the smell of Euclan Wrapture - scrummy!!) This is optional, if you don't have it you can just use water.
- A tape measure (to help you ascertain how big you should pull the FO out to)
- Blocking pins (these are also called T head pins and are commonly available, most haberdashers, yarn shops and fabric shops will stock them - you can use any non rusting pin)
- Blocking wires (not strictly necessary but very useful and speed up the process no end) This is the set I have.
- A clean towel.
Here is what you need to do:
1) Soak the FO in a bowl of tepid water with a little of the soak added. You can just use plain water but the soak cleans, removes any traces of oil (from the spinning), makes it smell great and may deter moths (most of the wool soak smell are designed to do this.)
- Spritz it with water from a spray bottle and let it dry - this is much quicker than soaking because it doesn't get as wet. OR
- Hold a steam iron over it - this is super quick because it only really has to cool down but be really really careful not to get the iron too close or the steam too hot. You should always test it out on your swatch first to check the fabric doesn't get ruined. You did make a swatch, right? *stern glare*
- Balloons inflated to the right size are perfect for blocking hats.
- Blocking a beret or tam shaped hat over a plate really helps shape it.
- A sweater can be pulled flat and blocked to shape on blocking mats but I really like, for sweaters and cardigans that I make in the round to block it on a tailors dummy set to the right size (for the actual finished garment not for the intended fit)
- Socks, I use special sock blockers like these.