April 29, 2012

Let's Talk About Blocking

Up until about 5 months ago, I had never blocked anything in my life.  I didn't really have a reason to.  The bulk of my knitting had consisted of scarfs, mittens, socks, hats and cowls.  Many may disagree with me, but I don't consider these items to be "block worthy".   If you're making garments such as sweaters, vests or anything that's going to require seaming then that's a different deal.  It wasn't until the holidays when I was making sweaters for the moms that I had a reason to do it.  Since I'm always trying to do things on a budget, I didn't purchase a blocking board.  I had heard somewhere that if you have a mattress or ironing board, than that will work just fine.  Lucky for me that I have a king size mattress that is not in use in our spare bedroom.   This has been the perfect platform for the 3 sweaters I have recently made. 

Blocking isn't too difficult, however, done incorrectly it can be the death of your garment.  Last week, I finally got around to blocking the beautiful Aidez.  To start, I took a 16 gallon storage bin and filled it with cool water and a packet of Soak.

Then I put the 5 pieces of my sweater in the bin, submersed them fully in the water and walked away for 15 minutes. 

This would be a great time to vacuum your house or fold that laundry that has been sitting around for days.  The great thing about Soak is that there is no need to rinse, so after it has sat for the full 15 minutes, very gently remove each piece and squeeze the excess water out of it.  DO NOT WRING!!  This is one of the critical points where if you're not careful, you can stretch the garment so it's big enough to fit a sumo wrestler.   Next, take the most absorbent towels you own and lay them down on your freshly vacuumed floor.  Make sure that the towels have absolutely no chance of transferring it's colors to the garment you're blocking.  I would hate to see you make it this far and have something like color bleeding mess things up. 

Lay the pieces next to each other but not overlapping on the towel and start rolling it up like an enchilada.

Step on the towel a bit so you get out any excess moisture. 

From here you want to move the party over to your blocking board, aka "mattress".  I laid down another large towel so the sweater wouldn't be lying directly on the mattress.  Once you have all the pieces laid out, take some t-pins and carefully pin them to the edges.

You only want to in them to where they naturally lay.  You don't want to stretch the garment at all during this.  Place a pin every couple of inches and on each corner.  After this is done, walk away for the next 24 hours or as long as it takes for everything to dry completely.  For me, once everything is dry and it doesn't look like I've stretched the bejesus out of it then I'll give myself a pat on the back and a large glass of wine!  Sometimes I'll even jump up and down and do a happy dance.  Now comes the best part.  Seaming.  Try not to stab someone in frustration during this part and you'll be golden.  Wanna see how it turned out??

So dang proud of this one.