3 Things Blocking Knits Can Fix (and 3 Things It Can’t)
Blocking knits is the final step in knitting a project—a step overlooked by many knitters. Many of us just want to knit; when the knitting is done, we feel that the project is done.
However, blocking knits can make a huge difference in how the final project looks; it adds that last bit of polish that changes your knits from looking “homemade” to “handmade.” It can also fix some of your knitting problems. Here’s a short list of things blocking can (and can’t!) do.
Things Blocking Knits Can Fix
1. Make lace pretty
Lace is the most dramatic example of what blocking can do. Before blocking, lace looks like a sad, shriveled-up heap of holey knitting. By stretching the fabric during blocking, all the yarnovers open up to reveal an airy, lacy fabric. It is a vital step in the lace knitting process; do not skip blocking lace!
2. Even out stitches
Soaking the project helps even out the overall tension, allowing the stitches to settle in together. Blocking knits makes for a smoother fabric and easier seaming. Stranded colorwork in particular benefits from a good blocking to even out the stitches and make a more cohesive fabric.
3. Make your project slightly bigger
If your finished sweater is a little snug, you can sometimes block it to fit. (For you more buxom lasses, this can be a good way to get a better fit through the bust.) However, this only works for very small adjustments; if the sweater is just too small and you get stuck when trying it on, blocking will not fix it. Also bear in mind that this fix is temporary; you’ll need to block your sweater to the larger measurements every time you wash it. Needless to say, it’s better to swatch and get the correct gauge before making the sweater than it is to stretch it to fit afterward.
Things Blocking Knits Can’t Fix
1. Curling stockinette stitch
Stockinette stitch worked without any borders is always going to curl. Always. No matter how much you block that cowl, it’s going to coil up like a cannoli as soon as you unpin it. To avoid this, choose a different stitch pattern or work it in the round and sew the ends closed.
2. Big changes in size
You can’t make a sweater 6 inches bigger than it was originally knit—it’s simply not possible. At best, you’ll just stretch out the stitches in a most unattractive way; at worst, you’ll stretch the yarn to its breaking point and destroy your sweater. If your sweater is too small, it’s best to frog it and reknit it at the correct gauge or pass it along to someone who fits into it.
3. Really uneven tension
Blocking can smooth out stitches, but it won’t magically fix uneven tension. If your knitting is “rowing out” or showing dramatic gauge differences between your knit and purl rows, you’ll need to adjust your knitting style. Try a different method (e.g., if you’re a continental knitter, try English or combination knitting) or use two different size knitting needles (e.g., work knit rows with a size 5 needle and work purl rows with a size 4 needle) to fix this problem.
Have I made you a believer in blocking knits? Try blocking your next project and see what a difference it makes!