How to block a knitting project

Your project is now finished being knitted? And you don’t know what to do next? No problem, I will explain to you the following steps in this new article!

Block your project
I don’t have the impression that this technique existed a few decades ago (my grandmas never heard of it anyway), but it is now recommended to block your knitting once it is finished. You’ve never heard of blocking? I’ll explain to you right now.

What does it mean to block in knitting? It is a technique that allows you to shape your knitting, give it the expected dimensions, reveal your lace or your textured stitches, or simply erase tensions imperfections in your stockinette stitches for example.

Some yarns have very irregular renderings when you knit them, but once blocked it changes completely. Here is an example on Sandra‘s project: here, she decided to block the body of her sweater before starting to knit her sleeves. You can see a big difference between the rendering of the jersey on the body (blocked) and on the sleeve (not blocked).

Here are the steps to block a project:

Wash it

When your project is finished, it must be washed. To do this, fill a basin with fresh to warm water (hot water could felting your yarn) and pour a little bit of laundry detergent. To do this, you have the choice between several types of detergents.

Woolite or Mirlaine laundry detergents, which are the easiest to find (for example in a supermarket), but which have the disadvantage of having to be rinsed.
Brands like Eucalan or Soak, which do not need to be rinsed but are more expensive. You can usually find them in wool shops or on the internet.
Be aware that if your project has several very different colours type white and blue navy for example, it is better to block it with cold water to reduce the risk of disgorgement.

Then, just gently dip your project into the water, without rubbing, and insert it well into the water to verify that all parts are soaked. Leave it in there without touching it, for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Wring it

If you use detergent that need to be rinsed, you will need to change the water and soak the project in clear water for 15 to 30 minutes.

Then we spin it off! You can remove your knitting from the water delicately, and do not twist it! Remove some water by pressing it lightly, then, it’s time for the towels! You simply need to wrap your knitting in a large towel and roll it. Then you have to press it well : either by pressing with your hands as in the picture, or by laying it on the ground and by walking on it along the whole length with your feet (best technique and very effective!).

Blocking it

Finally, you can lay it flat on the floor. The best is to use a yoga mat, or foam squares for children, the blocking mats being quite expensive. Once done, you have to pin it to give it the shape and the planned measures.
In the following pictures, I decided to block the neck of my sweater by stretching it gently, and pinning it to give it a better shape. However, I decided not to pin the ribs at the bottom of the jumper and sleeves because I like the tighter effect. If you want them to be the same size, you could pin them as well.

Once blocked once, your project will remember the shape you gave to it. You will not need to do this anymore and you can just wash it normally. If you are blocking socks, you can buy some ‘sock blocker’ that will do very well the job.

How to wash your knitting
Blocking is done only once, when your knitting project is finished. Thereafter, he will remember the form you gave him, and you will only have to wash it normally. To wash knits, there are two techniques:

– The first is to always hand wash them, by soaking them a little in a basin of lukewarm water. You can use again the laundry detergent that does not need to be rinsed (Eucalan or Soak), or the other one that you will have to rinse. As for blocking, you can then gently wring your knitting by hand and then wrap it in towels. All you have to do is lay it flat on your clothes airer (very important).

– The second is to wash them with your washing machine : be careful, I strongly advise you to first wash your sample in the machine and see how it reacts before washing your sweater, shawl or other. Personally, I use either the delicate 30 degree program or the wool program. As for spinning, it is advisable to do it about 800/1000 rpm: it must be strong enough to block your project on the walls of the machine and avoid it to move in the drum. In fact, friction is the cause of felting (by shrinking, the weaving loses its suppleness and hardens to become … felt).

Here are some additional tips for machine wash:

– Use a soft laundry.
– Wash with cold or lukewarm water depending on the project. Indeed, the hot water or the drying in hot air cause the shrinkage.
– Wash beautiful projects individually.
– Turn your clothes upside down to wash them.
– Select the shortest wash time for woollens and non-woven garments.
– Do not use a dryer!
– Do not twist your project! It is best to wind it up in a towel and dry it flat on a second dry towel or dryer as mentioned above.

How to take care of your projects
Many of you regularly ask me how I take care of my knits, and how I do to avoid pills, or at least to get rid of them. Know that there are two techniques, and that personally I like to use both depending on the project.

The Gleener :

It is a tool that is used by hand: first, you need to choose the appropriate blade. Next, the garment is laid flat on a clean, hard surface. With one hand, the garment is held in place, while on the other the Gleener is slid from top to bottom. It is very important to always work in the direction of the fabric. The strength to be exercised depends on the type of fiber being treated and the importance of the pills. I advise you to try the blade on a piece of garment the least visible possible, for example an inner seam.

The Gleener comes with three blades, and each blade carries the number 1, 2 or 3 on the reverse in a circle.

What is the use of each blade?

Blade # 1 is ideal for shaving large pills and bulky fluff like those commonly found on wool and acrylic sweaters, or other clothing such as coats.
Blade # 2 is ideally suited for shaving medium-sized pills and fluff like those that are formed on finer woollens such as cashmere and merino wool. It is also very effective on acrylic fabrics, polyesters and textile blends.
Blade # 3 is best suited for small fluff that adheres to cotton and synthetic blends, such as t-shirts, scarves and shirt collars.
Personally I like to use it especially for my worsted wool sweaters because the pills are big enough and very easy to remove with this tool. Be careful not to use this tool on lace!

Electric shaver (or battery)

This is another handy tool for removing pills. I bought a Philips battery shaver, which I use mainly for my DK and Fingering wool projects. As for the Gleener, it should not be used on lace, because the risk is for you to make a hole ….
This tool is very simple to use and comes with batteries. It only has one speed and you just have to pass it gently on your sweater so that it removes the pills. The process is longer than with the Gleener, but the result is very good. Know that I had first bought a shaver a little cheaper from another brand but as it worked very badly, I had to send it back.

Now, Gleener or electric shaver, it’s up to you to see! Both have advantages and disadvantages in my opinion.

Storage of your projets
Here are some tips to ensure a long life to your knitting:

– It is better to fold a woollen project than to hang it.
– Do not store a dirty sweater in your closet: it may attract moths, and the stains will become permanent.
– Use balls or cedar shavings, or lavender bags in your wardrobes. Cedar chips have the property of absorbing excess moisture, thus preventing mold. Lock them in fabric to prevent them from staining your woollens.
– Avoid storing your woolen goods in an airtight container. Natural fibers need to breathe. A bag of canvas or muslin will do the trick.

Clean your needles
This may seem a bit surprising, but it is important to clean your needles from time to time. Indeed, by manipulating them often, your skin deposits on it a little perspiration or sebum, and it means that your yarn could not glide as well on the needles with the time. I advise you to clean them with a cloth that you can soak in soapy water first, and then rinse.

I hope this second part of this tutorial can help you take good care of all your beautiful knits! See you soon!

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