It wasn’t long ago that blocking was a complete mystery to me. I finished my knitting, admired my handwork and that was that. Nothing was soaked or washed until it was dirty some time later. These days, after learning a little about blocking and trying it myself, I’m a complete convert. Blocking is nothing short of magic – especially when it comes to shawls and lace.
Recently, I’ve been noticing some degree of panic amongst many knitters when the word “blocking” is mentioned. Trust me, it’s not tricky. There are a few tools that make it easier to block a shawl and some shapes that you’re shooting for when you’re laying it out, but overall the whole thing is not difficult and actually quite pleasant.
To help you make sense of blocking I thought I’d show you you what I do with my shawls once they’re off my needles. Because it’s a long process I’ve split it into two parts – soaking, then blocking – but I do one straight after the other while my shawls are still wet.
Before I begin I have to say that like knitting, there is truly no one “right” way to block your shawls. I’ve worked out a way that I like through trial and error. If you have any tips or tricks that you’ve found useful I’d love to hear them and please feel free to fiddle and experiment until you find a method that suits you.
1. Soak your knitting. I use very warm water and a splash of wool wash. Fill a bucket or sink, pop in your shawl, dunk it under the water and leave it to soak for about 15 to 20 minutes. If you’re soaking more than one be mindful that darker dyes may run a little and it might be better to soak these separately. If you’re using a wool wash that requires rinsing, briefly soak again in clean water. Take care not to change the temperature of your rinsing water too drastically or you might felt or shrink your wool. (I weave in my ends after blocking.)
2. Gently squeeze the water from your shawls. Don’t wring them, just squeeze between your hands until the worst is out.
3. Lay your shawl flat on a big bath towel and roll the towel from end to end.
4. This part is fun – walk up and down on your sausage roll towel. You might find that other people like doing this job for you. Giving your towel a good kneading will get most of the water out of your knitting.
5. Unroll your shawl from the towel and get your blocking surface ready.
Ready to block your shawl? Head over to part two to read how I do it.