If you block, you can shape pieces into the way you want them to live – Jessica Fenlon Thomas of Knitty.com
Many knitters often ask themselves, “To Block or Not to Block” and are often unsure if they should block or are even unsure of the process of blocking. Blocking is one of the essential elements to completing any garment and can literally make your hand-knitted items stand out from the rest of the crowd by showing that you can provide a professionally finished garment.
There are actually three ways you can block garments.
- Wet-Blocking – When using this method, you wet the pieces of your knitted items and pin them out to the desired shape or size to let them dry. Drying will take a few days. Remember to never wring while wet as wool can be very fragile and you can damage your knitted fabric. This method is particularly good for wool, alpaca, blends and linen.
- Steam-Blocking – When using this method, you will first pin your knitted pieces, wrong side up. Next, wet an old sheet or pillowcase and wring out to insure that it is just damp and not soaking wet. Using a hot iron, lightly press down on the sheet or pillowcase. This will cause your iron to start steaming, which will go through the fabric. Continue until the sheet or pillowcase is completely dry. If you choose not to use a damp sheet or pillowcase, simply set your iron to a steam setting and float the iron over the surface of the knitted garment to force the iron to start steaming. Make sure that you do not touch the fabric with the iron. This method is particularly good for cotton.
- Pin Blocking - For this method, simply pin your pieces out to the desired shape and size. When finished pinning, use a spray bottle to lightly spritz until each item is damp. This method is particularly good for fine-gauge woolens, cashmere, merino, mohair, silk and man-made fibers.
Tools for blocking will include blocking pins or t-pins, a steam iron, a spray bottle, tape measure and blocking boards. For more information on blocking techniques, visit Knitting Daily for the Basics of Blocking Part One and Basics of Blocking, Part Two by Sandi Wiseheart.
With that said, keep in mind not every single item you knit must be “blocked”. In my humble opinion you should always block anything that is lace related, for example scarves or shawls. This helps the stitch pattern “pop” and it helps shape the design and allows it to hang or drape better.