fall – ages ago! - we talked about
blocking. Since then my husband and I have
uprooted ourselves from Norway to my family home in the mountains
of western North Carolina and have been settling in, adjusting
to the climate and acquiring several chickens, two alpacas,
a vegetable garden and a dog. But the squash, beans and corn
have all finally – thankfully
- stopped producing, so here’s the much delayed continuation – blocking
part 2. This time we’ll focus on blocking lace.
First let me just remind you of the most important thing before
we start: blocking a knitted garment requires some type of
moisture - water or steam. Be sure the yarn used in your project
will tolerate the treatment you’re about to put it through!
If your knitting does not tolerate being submerged in water,
you can also pin out while spritzing with
a spray bottle or place a damp towel over
the pinned out piece and let dry. Using the
steam setting on your iron – as
described in Blocking,
Part 1 is
another way to block the knitting into shape. Again, be
sure to check the yarn label or test on a
swatch to decide which method is appropriate
for the yarn you’ve
Knitted lace usually has a structure that looks best if “opened
up”. When you’re just finished knitting – or
after the object has been worn a few times – that structure
isn’t very clear. For example, here’s a shawl that
I made for my mom that has been worn a few times:
The points on the edge of the shawl have lost their pointiness
and the whole thing is looking a bit sad.
Since I know the yarn I used in this project tolerates being
wet I soaked it for a few minutes in slightly soapy, lukewarm
water, then rinsed and spun it in the washing machine for a
couple of minutes to remove as much moisture as possible. (This
can also be nicely accomplished by using a large salad spinner
or wrapping in a towel and squeezing.)
Then I took the shawl to the extra bedroom, removed the comforter
and placed a clean sheet directly on the mattress.
If you don’t have an extra bed, you can put a clean
sheet on a carpeted floor or a special blocking
board. You can even make
a blocking board yourself, if you’re feeling handy.
Although I haven’t tried
it myself, I’m sure those interlocking foam mats would
also work well and be easy to store when
in use. Wherever you decide to block, be
sure you can keep your pets locked out – cats have a
particular affinity for snoozing on slightly
damp wool. If you block on your own bed,
start early enough in the day that the knitting
will be sure to dry before bedtime – a
dry day and a fan can help speed up the process.
And if you happen to sleep with someone else,
be SURE to get all the pins out of the mattress
through. I cannot stress this enough, people.
Next I stuck three straight pins through the sheet into the
mattress and attached spare yarn to each point - measuring
to make sure I had a nice isosceles triangle. I use 1 ¾ inch
rustproof pins that have a brightly colored plastic ball on
the end – extra long so they are securely anchored in
the blocking surface, rustproof since they’re being used
in damp yarn, brightly colored to make them easier to see when
I’m removing them and with a ball on the end to help
keep the knitting from sliding off. I also marked the center
of the top edge of the shape with an extra pin.
For other shapes follow the finished measurements or schematic
provided with your knitting pattern. Marking an outline like
this is not necessary but makes it much easier to keep from
pinning your knitting out to a wonky shape and having to start
Starting at the center – in my case, the
center of the top edge of the shawl:
then the lower edge point:
Continue to insert pins at even intervals from the center
outwards through the knitting and into the mattress (or carpet
/ blocking board – whatever you happen to be using).
If the knitting has defined points along the edges, measure
an equal distance between them.
Place pins rather close together in the straight edges to
keep unwanted scallops from forming:
Or thread a spare length of sturdy yarn (cotton works well
here) through the straight edge with a tapestry needle before
you start and use the spare yarn to pull the top edge straight:
You can also use special
blocking wires to insert through the straight edges
of your lace if you happen to have them.
After you’re finished pinning, leave to dry:
If your yarn does not tolerate being submerged in water, you
can also pin out while spritzing with a spray bottle or place
a damp towel over the pinned out piece and let dry. Using the
steam setting on your iron – as described in Part 1 – is
another way to block the knitting into shape. Again, be sure
to check the yarn label to decide which method is appropriate
for the yarn you’ve used!
After the knitting is completely dry, remove the pins (be
sure to get them all!) and voila! A prettier – and usually
a good deal larger – lace shawl!
Remember the “before” picture?
Blocking – while it may take some time – makes such a
difference in the finished product.