Much ado about blocking.

If you don’t block sweaters…why the hell not? Nothing makes a piece look as professional and finished. I almost always block a sweater before seaming, like I’m doing with this Hugohugo-2Blocking before seaming lets you make sure you get the pieces to the exact measurements you want and it smooths out all of the slight imperfections in the stitches. Pre-seaming blocking also allows the sweater to dry faster since it’s still in pieces. You need to block the pieces to get it to the gauge of the swatch you washed and blocked, right?

hugoI know, I know. It’s a pain. You need to soak it in some wool wash, like Eucalan, and squeeze out the water gently, then roll it up in a dry towel and smoosh the water out with your feet. Then you finesse the pieces into the finished measurements and maybe you pin it lightly. Maybe you pin it aggressively if it’s lace. I think the sweater pieces should be fairly relaxed when you pin them because if you’re getting aggressive at this point you might not have made the correct gauge or size in the first place. I’ve learned that lesson a couple of times.

But seriously, if you’re not a dedicated blocker, try it next time you do a sweater. It’s well worth the effort and I know you can hold on just a little longer on the finishing. Just cast on something new while you wait for it to dry. Read this Knitty article for more specific tips, especially for dealing with different fibers.

This sweater is now so close to being finished! After seaming it just needs the ribbed collar and some buttons. It’s for my brother and I’ll see him next weekend for our little sister’s wedding. Then he can cart it home to Minnesota where it will surely get lots of use. I should probably send him home with some wool wash and washing instructions. I made this out of Cascade 220 (non-superwash).

21 thoughts on “Much ado about blocking.

  1. I actually always use a damp iron for blocking. I was taught this by my mum 30 years ago (then we sprayed water on it and damped with an ordinary iron). The challenge is to control the temperature and handle it very lightly so it cools down immediately. Probably not ver professional!

    • Do you know about steam blocking? There may be other methods , but I use an iron on the steam setting and basically wave it maybe 1 cm above the garment (which you pin in place first). Essential for yarns that can’t really be washed, but also really useful for awkward shapes that need to block in sections like this skirt.

  2. Gorgeous sweater! What colorway of 220 is that? I love 220 for sweaters. I block the pieces separately. Even with math, swatching and blocking, things don’t always turn out the size I expected and I discover some piece needs to be ripped back and corrected.

    • The color is Japanese Maple. Sometimes I can squish or pull things into place a bit with blocking. The sleeves seemed about 2″ too long but I was able to get them to behave.

  3. Do you block, seam, then block again? I’ve always blocked after seaming, but was told recently that I’m doing it all wrong. So now I’m blocking first, but the seams look… Like they need to be blocked!

    • I don’t block after seaming unless it looks like I need to again. Usually doesn’t seem that way. Sometimes I steam if it’s just one section, like the collar in this case.

  4. Pingback: Much ado about blocking. | cubic9445

  5. I’m not a huge fan of blocking, but my cats love sitting on wet wool (cats are strange), and I prefer the way regular wool wears rather than superwash. Blocking is worth it!

  6. Great post! I am still a beginner at knitting, do you have any sweater patterns to suggest to me? This one is great, but it is beyond my skills

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