I’m No Blockhead

Blocking is what knitters and crocheters do to ensure their projects have a finished look. Depending on the yarn and the project, garments (or pieces) might dampened by soaking, steaming or spritzing, pinned into shape and left to air dry. One yarn said to pin the piece into shape and cover it with a damp towel – that didn’t work too well so I gave it a good spritz and covered it back up.

No matter the method, blocking can correct a lot of problems. With my sweater vest below, I knew the shawl collar would be an issue. I’ve struggled with them before.

IMG_1383

My sister-in-law made the great blocking board!

See the horizontal lines in the middle section? See all the pin heads along the bottom edge? Before I pinned it into shape, the bottom edges of both sides were about three inches higher.

Why, you ask?

Because the shawl collar/placket is done in a ribbed stitch. Ribbing always contracts. That’s why it’s often used where you want a little stretch – like a mitten cuff.  Since I want the bottom inside edges to align with the rest of the bottom of the vest, I stretched it out and pinned it into place.

As excited as I was to make a garment with no piecing — the armholes were created by placing some stitches on a holder and knitting the top half in three sections, the last step was picking up and knitting a few rows of garter stitch for each “sleeve” — I didn’t realize it would be harder to block as an entire unit.

When blocking individual pieces the pattern will usually tell you the exact size and shape each piece should be. Most pieces are flat. But blocking an entire garment (especially one with a overlap like this) makes it hard to shape. It’s flat. When you’re not sure how far pieces will overlap when the piece is worn, you have to guess how far to stretch things.

When blocking this vest, my first goal was to stretch the ribbed collar/placket to the right length. My second goal was to use enough tension to make the textured pattern stand out.

Some knitters use rods to evenly stretch fabric. I’ve never done that, but wonder if that might be a good way to block no-assembly-required type projects.

Suggestions, anyone?

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About Paula Hendrickson

I'm a full-time freelance writer with an addiction to yarn, cooking and all kinds of crafty things. I come from a long line of creative and entrepreneurial types on both sides of the family, making creativity almost like competitive pursuit.

Posted on November 19, 2013, in Blocking, Knitting, patterns, yarn and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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