Blocking

If you’re already familiar with the concept of blocking your knitting, feel free to scroll down to the before and after photos.  If you’re not familiar with it, blocking is a way to get all the yarn you’ve just finished looping and twisting while knitting to relax and lie in whatever shape you want.  It is particularly important if your project is lace, as the lace will open up a lot more and be much prettier after it’s been blocked, but it’s helpful for any project, as it can make your stitches appear more even and help combat curling edges.

There are different ways to block your knitting, depending on the fiber content of the yarn and the desired end result.  Today I’m going to talk about how I wet blocked a 100% wool lace ear warmer I recently finished.  Wet blocking seems to be one of the more popular blocking methods and can produce very dramatic results with wool.

Here’s the ear warmer once I’d finished knitting and weaving in the ends:

2015 05-18 Earwarmer 1Doesn’t look like much, does it?

Since I knew I wanted the sides to be straight, I wanted to do some prep work before I got the yarn wet.  Ideally, I would have had blocking wires (special rust-proof wires made for blocking), but since I didn’t, I decided to experiment with running fishing line along the edges I needed to be straight.  It ended up working for me, but I was very careful as fishing line is sharp and wet wool is delicate.

Then I soaked the whole thing in some lukewarm soapy water in my sink for about half an hour (I’d meant to get it after about fifteen minutes, but I forgot about it!).

2015 05-18 Earwarmer 2After that, I rinsed it, rolled it up in a towel and squeezed as much of the water out as I could, then laid it out in the shape I want.  I use the back of my yoga mat for blocking, and I tend to put a towel under my work as I don’t want to take any chances of the color from my mat coming off onto my damp knitting.  Because I had already put the fishing line in place, I was able to just anchor the ends of the line (which I had already tied into loops) with pins and pin out the angles and corners of my knitting.  If I hadn’t had the fishing line, I would have had to put pins every couple of inches along the long sides of the piece, which would have taken longer and might have resulted in a slight scallop instead of the perfectly straight lines I got.

2015 05-18 Earwarmer 3Once the ear warmer had completely dried, I unpinned it, removed the fishing line, and sewed on two buttons to close it.  You can see in the picture below how it lies completely flat and you can see the lace much better than you could right when I finished it.  I could definitely have stretched it tighter for a more dramatic finish, but because I really wanted it to be warm, I didn’t want to make it too lacy!

2015 05-18 Earwarmer 4It buttons closed and works like a normal headband — I particularly like how it covers my ears but not my forehead (my ears get cold long before my forehead does).

2015 05-18 Earwarmer 6

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