Wet blocking is the final step in finishing any knitted or crocheted project. By immersing your finished project in water and a bit of soap, it will transform magically into something you can truly be proud of.
While some yarns are labeled superwash, which means that they can be washed in a machine, keep in mind that hand washing will increase the longevity of your project.
Tools such as blocking mats and our time-saving Knit Blockers are not essential to this process, but they can make it much easier. We also recommend looking for a fiber wash that is formulated especially for the type of fiber you used; if possible, opt for a no-rinse formulation to avoid accidentally felting your project.
Below is a list of materials for blocking any knit or crochet project; we’ve marked the 100% essential supplies with an (*) asterisk:
- No-rinse wool wash* (we’re using Eucalan)
- Small basin, tub, or sink*
- 1-2 clean, fluffy towels*
- Blocking mats
- Knit Blockers or rust proof T-pins
First, fill a clean sink, bucket, or basin with lukewarm water. Add some of your favorite fiber wash and gently swish to incorporate through the water. Add your project to the water, pressing it gently into the water to make sure it is entirely submerged. Be careful not to agitate your project in the process (which can cause felting) - you just want to make sure your project is good and wet. Let your project soak for 5-10 minutes.
If you are using a sink, let the water drain out before removing your project; if you are washing your project in a bin, gently remove it from the water. Carefully squeeze to remove excess water - the key here is being gentle: don’t wring or twist your knit. If you have a clean towel nearby, you can roll your project into the towel and squeeze gently again to remove more excess water.
Now that your project is clean, it’s time to lay it flat to dry. First, find a good place where you can lay out your project where it will not be disturbed by curious pets and/or children. A floor in a non-trafficked area is a great choice, or you can use a counter, table top, or any flat surface you won’t need to access for a day or two (i.e. the bed in the guest bedroom, the dining room table, etc.).
Spread a dry, clean towel or your blocking mats in the area where you’ll be laying out your project to dry. If you are using Knit Blockers or T-pins to block your project (and in most cases you will want to use pins to hold the project in place!), you will need a porous surface underneath your project that you don’t mind sticking pins into. A large piece of cardboard can do the trick if you don’t happen to have blocking mats handy.
Once you have decided where you would like to block your project, lay it out gently in the shape you wish to block it into. Some patterns will provide a schematic with finished dimensions which you can refer back to as you lay out your piece, using a tape measure to ensure correct dimensions have been achieved.
For projects with lots of lace, blocking wires are a good investment. Blocking wires are thin, flexible wires that can be threaded through the edges of your knitting and then pinned taut. This will open up your lace and enable you to create straight (or curved) edges in your finished garment.
If your project doesn’t have a large amount of lace, or you don’t wish for super defined edges, you can use pins or the Knit Blockers to pin your project into place as you arrange it. Generally, we lay the project out in the shape we want it to be, and then pin every 4-6 inches to arrange the project in a general shape.
We also recommend re-washing and wet blocking periodically to keep your handmade projects free of dirt and grime which can attract pests. You needn’t wash every time you wear something, but a few times during the season, with a final wash and block before you pack your woolens away can make all the difference.
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