Saturday, 28 April 2012

Techniques: Blocking

Hi everyone!! Happy Saturday!! Back to the rain again, and the perfect knitting weather. I have finally finished my feather and fan blanket!! YAY!!! This is a great thing, because it was becoming very tedious, but I must say  it looks amazing, and I am very pleased with it. But you will have to wait one more day for YOTD. So, as I sat pinning it out, I thought maybe I should share with you the technique of blocking..

When I first started knitting, I thought what's the point in blocking? And as I knit toys there really wasn't any point in blocking, and there really isn't when you are knitting toys, the small pieces are sewn up and stuffed that they really don't need it. You can if you want, but I don't think it is necessary.

Then I started knitting shawls, lace, and clothes. Now with lace, you really need to block it to get the best results, and to see all the hard work that you have put in. With clothes, it is best to block the work so that when you seam them, the work is flat and you get the size that is on the pattern. Also, stocking stitch will need blocking much much more than garter stitch. Stocking stitch curls and makes it really difficult to get something to lay flat and to seam too.

Let's go totally back to basics with this one. I had no idea how to block and had to ask one of the much better experts on Ravelry how to do it. So here we go, firstly, what do you need to be able to block? You are going to need pins, a towel, something to block on and something to spray water with.

Now above you can see half my blanket. It's only half because it is wider than my blocking mat so I am doing it in halves. So what you can see in the picture above is my blanket pinned out on a towel which is on top of an old exercise mat. That's right, that's how we exercise in this house!! Now this mat was donated to me during my In-Laws last house move and I actually have my sister in law's too for this purpose. These are spongy and give me lots to work with when I'm putting the pins in. The mat underneath is also folded over so it is actually twice the length and I have been known to block a lot of things at one time.
Before I had this mat, I have been known to use the old lagging from our old immersion heater, or lots of towels piled up to take the pins. I was always scouring charity shops for the foam kids mats too, but the exercise mats came up first. You can buy special blocking mats if you want.

 Now there are plenty of different types of blocking. You can submerge your work in a bowl of water, take off the excess water and then pin it out. Personally I am totally scared of that, pushing my work into water. It works perfectly for others and I'm sure it will work for me, but I just prefer to spray my work. I know it works on most yarns, and won't felt things either. I just like it. As you can see, I use a carafe of water, with an old spray top from a cleaning bottle. This makes it easy to spray all over my work and I get an even amount of water.

So here's what I do. Pin out your work on top of your towel and mat to the size or to show the lace. Spray the work with water. Make sure the work is wet, not dripping but wet. Then leave it to dry. Let it dry naturally and then unpin it and you are done. If it is work that needs seaming, you will now be able to sew it up and see the edges better, especially if it is stocking stitch.

I really hope this has helped a few people. You will really see a difference when you block something. It is neater somehow, and all the stitches line up nicely, and you get a better fit to your work. Blocking isn't for everyone. My mum never blocks and her knitting is so very beautiful as it is. Her clothes come out perfect every time. She probably wouldn't say that, but I would. One day I will show you her cables- you will be in awe!!!

Have a great day everyone, keep warm and safe, and enjoy your weekend

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