I’m not the best knitter in the world and I’ve never blocked any of my knitting before. But everyone kept telling me that it’s an essential step to creating the perfect knitted garment. Yes, you’ve knitted for hours and hours and you just want to get the damn thing done but hey, what’s an extra hour or two? I’ve just finished knitting my third ever jumper so figured now was the time to see what the whole blocking malarky was about.
I asked my friend Frankie to come and give me a lesson. She’s a brilliant knitter and even has a degree in Knitting Design, wowowow! She’s spent a couple of years working with John Arbon at their mill in Devon and has recently started designing her own amazing patterns. You may have seen her Sweet Clementine shawl in Knitting magazine this month. Isn’t it beautiful? Find her on Facebook and Ravelry to keep up to date with all her knitting goings ons.
Frankie prefers steam blocking so that’s what we went for, you can also wet block but you have to wait ages for it to dry and we’re far too impatient for that.
You will need:
Foam board, we used a children’s play mat
You can either finish stitching together your whole garment or block each piece separately. Frankie says it’s easier to create the shape you want when it’s all stitched up. It’s also quicker and you’ll be able to wear it straight away afterwards. My garment was half stitched up so you’ll kind of see both methods in these photos.
Lay your dry garment flat on the foam board, right side up. Weave in the wires along the seams of your garment (if unfinished), or slide them through your garment along the seams if sewn up. Ideally for a jumper you want wires along your side seams, your upper and under sleeves, shoulders and hemline. If you’re blocking something easy like a scarf, add wires along the side seams and the two ends. You can fold a scarf in half widthways and put the wires through both layers to make it more manageable.
Frankie’s Tip: On the shoulder seams bend the wires slightly to create a curve where your shoulders naturally drop a little. You can pin the wire out to create this tension.
Pin out to the shape and size you want the finished garment to be. This is your chance to lengthen or widen slightly. Be careful not to stretch too much though, you don’t want to distort it.
Test your iron on a swatch of your knitting to check it won’t do anything weird. We don’t want any melty knitting! If it’s ok start to steam your garment. Don’t let the iron touch the knitting just hover it above with lots of steam. Try not to steam any cables as it will flatten them.
Frankie’s Tip: If you steam your ribbing it will lose its elasticity which you might not want on the bottom of a jumper and on the cuffs. I prefer a looser fitting jumper that doesn’t stick to me though so normally block my ribbing.
Take out the pins and the wires and you’re done! Your knitting should be softer and flatter and hang beautifully.
Look who snuck into my blocking class with her scarf.
Look out for photos of my finished jumper coming soon! I’m off to Belgium for the weekend so may put a little photo of it on Instagram from over there. HUGE thank you to Frankie for coming and showing me how to block, how lucky am I to get a masterclass? Make sure you follow her on Facebook, her designs are amaaazing.