The first time you finish a big knitting project, the thought of sewing it all together can be a bit off-putting. Those curly or uneven edges are not motivating, especially when they make sewing seams more than a little bit tricky. It could be so disappointing if all your hard work ends up in the making-up basket where it languishes unloved for months or years! But don’t despair – this is where blocking is your friend.
Blocking may be a slightly odd word, but it’s simply the art of preparing your knitted fabric for its final use by using various techniques to even it out. If you’ve been working in stocking stitch, this can be as simple as getting the edges to lay flat. For a lace pattern it will probably mean stretching your work so that the eyelets (holes) show up better. With cable or rib fabric, blocking may only be very gentle as you don’t want to over-stretch your stretchy fabric.
Whichever method you choose for your knitted fabric, blocking can make the difference between a homemade and a handmade finish. If you’ve spent weeks knitting something, it definitely pays to take the time to give it that extra bit of care – we guarantee you’ll be glad you did!
Blocking stocking stitch
Stocking stitch is the easiest style of fabric to block as it is very smooth and even. All you’re really doing when blocking stocking stitch is uncurling the edges and straightening up the stitches. It might not seem worth the hassle, but stocking stitch is much easier to seam if you block it first, so take the time to do it and you’ll be amazed at the difference. Here are three methods to try, depending on the composition of your knitted fabric.
Although you can use any of the first three options explained for stocking stitch fabric, lace knitting looks better when you block it firmly, opening out the holes and showing off all those lovely stitches! Lace responds so well to blocking, it’s worth using natural fibres for lace projects if you can – wool, alpaca, cotton or silk (or blends of these fibres). Yarn made from synthetic fibres like acrylic or nylon has a tendency to ‘ping back’ when blocked firmly. Each time you wash your lace knit, repeat the blocking process – it pays off.
Blocking cables or rib
When blocking cables or rib, you want to do the opposite of ‘hard’ lace blocking and just gently stretch out the fabric so that it doesn’t lose all of its spring! It’s best not to iron cable or rib as you can flatten them out really easily, and they’ll never look quite the same again.