Thursday, November 11, 2010

The ABC's of Blocking

 My house has been looking like a toddler lives there recently ...


These are the foam flooring squares that I use to block my knitting projects when I am done with them.
(You can get non-alphabet squares, 
but these happened to be on sale when I went to Lowe's, 
and you know me and sales!)
I used to be afraid of blocking,
but I took a great class at my not-so-local knitting shop 
(45 minutes from my house!)
and now I actually enjoy this part of the process.

 The whole point of blocking a knitted project
is to gently stretch it into the shape / size you need it to be,
and then let it dry in place for at least 24 hours.
This way, it will hold its shape when you wear it!
You can also do this after you wash a knitted item to reshape it correctly.

Basically, you start by laying out your foam squares. 
I put them up on my dining room table, 
because I've found that my aging knees and back don't like kneeling on the floor.
Then, you soak your knitted item in cold water for about an hour.

Once the item is saturated, 
it is important to be very careful when handling it, 
as the fibers can be easily damaged.
You can wrap it in a towel to get the excess water out (being careful not to wring it!)
and then lay it out on the foam squares in preparation for shaping it.
Then, it's just a matter of stretching it gently into shape and pinning it to the foam squares until it is dry.

I purchased a blocking kit
which included metal rods that you can use to run through the edges of the knitted item
to ensure straight lines when it dries.
For this particular shawl, I used three rods - one for each side of the triangle.
The top was easy, because it's a straight edge.
The other edges were a little more challenging, since they are pointed.
It took a little bit of work to get them to be symmetrical on both sides.

Here is the finished product while it was drying.
See how much bigger it got from blocking?
I stretched it a good bit, being careful not to pull too hard and break the fibers.

Once it's dry, 
it is ready for the finishing touches of weaving in ends and clipping yarns.

** Disclaimer **
I'm just sharing what I learned in my class ...
by no means am I an expert.  

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