What comes after Finishing? April 2, 2012 – Posted in: How to, Mondays with Mona

Nothing, you might say. Not so! Let’s talk about blocking a bit.

Lotte is done. After sewing her up and adding the collar she underwent some steam blocking to make her look even better.

I find it is an important step in making a project look really ‘finished’ – the seams settle, anything that might look a bit puckered eases into usually flat fabric, in short: blocking makes your project look happy.

You do not need to invest in a clothes steamer, a steam iron will do. Some knitted fabrics can be steam ironed directly, others need protection in form of a wet dish towel (which should consist of 100% cotton, or a cotton/linen mix). When in doubt, always use a towel! Wet the towel thoroughly and place on the to be steamed fabric. The iron should be set on cotton and the steam as high as possible. Now place iron gently onto towel, let it sit there for about three seconds, then lift it. Repeat over area that you want to steam. Do not move the iron as you would ironing regularly. If necessary, wet towel again. You might also want to use the steam button on your iron to yet enhance the steam. This is a method that works well for any garment.

Another method – a bit more work intensive – is to soak your project (use a special wash like ‘Soak’, it is no rinse) in tepid water. Depending on the material make sure you do not move a woolen garment too much, do not rub the fabric, just gently swish around. To remove most water, squeeze garment gently. To remove as much water as possible, place on bath towel, roll up and squeeze out water as much as you can. (I sometimes place it on the floor and step on it, that works really well.) To block your garment you will need a flat surface which is suitable to poke needles in – I used to place an old woolen blanket on my bed and cover with an old sheet. It worked but had the disadvantage of having to remove everything at bed time – dry or not. I have bought some puzzle foam mats since, they come in a package of 4, one is 60×60 cm, you can arrange them as you please and need. They are worth the small investment.

Another indispensable tool are blocking pins with an elongated head that hinders the pin from slipping through the knitted fabric. If you want to block a lace shawl, blocking wires are a great addition in the category of ‘helpful tools’. A smaller project might not need to be immersed in water, a spray bottle will do – spray project liberally with water, before or after pinning, that is up to you.

Always wait until the project is thoroughly dry before removing any pins – otherwise the effect of blocking might not be as desired.

– Mona