Close up of Shooting Stars shawl showing the lace and picot edging

How to: Block your knits

If you tried blocking your swatch, you will already know how blocking can help even out your stitches, create a more uniform shape and even change the dimensions of your finished object. If you have never blocked your knits, or are sceptical about why you should go to the trouble, read on and find out why I think blocking is an essential part of finishing any project.

I love blocking my knits, especially anything with lace. Here I’m blocking my Shooting Stars Shawl, as lace never looks its best when it first comes off the needles but give it a quick bath, pin it out and the design will really open out. Showing off your hard work in all its glory.

How to block your knits. A lace shawl fresh off the needles looking lumpy, uneven and curled at the edges.

When this shawl first came off the needles the lace was scrunched up and the bind off edge was rolling up. It wasn’t looking like something I would want to show off. Rather than be disappointed with my creation I knew that these problems could easily be fixed through blocking. But what is blocking?

Blocking means soaking your finished object in lukewarm water, gently squeezing out the excess water and pinning it out to the dimensions given in the pattern.

How to block your knits. Lace shawl soaking in water. Bubbles caused by the wool wash are floating on top of the water.

I soak my knits in lukewarm water with a little bit of wool wash added, but you can use just water if you prefer. Fully submerge your knitwear until it is soaked through and leave to soak for 20 minutes, or until you remember to take it out!

How to block your knits. Lace shawl being rolled up in a towel. Edge of the shawl is still curling up.

Gently lift it out of the water and squeeze the water out by hand. Once you have most of the water out, lay out your knit on a towel. Roll up the towel with the item inside and then walk up and down the rolled up towel to squeeze out the excess water. Unroll the towel and lay out your knit on a flat surface. I either use the spare bed or lay a dry towel on the carpet. I am always tempted to invest in some of the foam mats that you see in garden centres for kids to play on, but I haven’t really needed them yet. In the summer I often put a towel on the decking and dry my knits in the sun. Dry in half the time and it saves on indoor space!

How to block your knits. Lace shawl pinned out and left to dry. Lace is looking open, stocking stitch is looking even and picot edging is pointy and flat, held in place by pins.

Pinning out your knitting is very important when you want your finished object to be a certain size or shape, or when blocking lace. For shawls, such as this one, I place a few pins along the straight edges to hold the shape while stretching out the body until the stitch pattern of the lace looks as intended. I then pin out any points along the bottom edge to help give them definition.
Leave until dry before removing the pins then leave for a further few hours to give the yarn chance to relax if necessary.

How to block your knits. Lace shawl now dry and with pins removed. Edge now lays flat, stitches smooth and the lace is open.

The shawl is now the correct size, the lace is transformed and the bind off edge is lying flat!

I hope you find this helpful.


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