How do you Block – FREE giveaway contest

For some of you, the idea of blocking your work is a no-brainer, it’s just part of the finishing process.  But for many, especially green knitter/crocheters there is a big question mark over the instruction to ‘block your work’ at the end of your pattern.  Many folks at Baaad Anna’s (regulars and staff) share ideas on their own DIY techniques for blocking, and some of them are fantastic, especially if you are working on a budget and don’t have extra cash to spend on blocking mats etc.

Blocking the Brandywine Shawl


So here is the plan – we are creating a zine on DIY Blocking. So send us either through email: info@baaadannas.com or as a comment on the blog,  your favorite blocking tips, techniques and tricks.  Also please include your name and email address and we will enter your name into a draw for a free giveaway (something blocking related – yah!). Also, we will include your tips in our blocking zine – to be released in March 2012.


The deadline for the contest is February 10th – so send us your ideas soon!


22 thoughts on “How do you Block – FREE giveaway contest

  1. i soak the knitting in a bucket for an hour or so, then squeeze the water out by hand. i pin to a towel laid on the floor and leave it there for a day or two.

    with sweaters i only pin the edges that have to be really flat – if it’s a ribbed edge i’ll often just let the weight of the wet wool keep it down.

    i block *religiously*, especially for large items. the stitches look so much neater!

  2. I block like many of the other posters do (warm water, Soak/Eucalan, roll in a towel, etc.), but my favorite new tip is blocking wires….specifically getting them from the hardware store for a fraction of the cost. You want to look for 1/16″ or less stainless steel welding wires (no flux coating–this is important!) for TIG welding. These are exactly what you get when you buy “blocking wires” but you can get about twice as many of them for a fraction of the cost! If you can’t find these at a normal hardware store, try a welding supply store. I found mine at Princess Auto here in Calgary.

  3. I haven’t had much experience blocking items, but when I have I used a delicate hand-washing soap, then made sure to rinse it out several times. I then rolled the item in a towel, changing the towel, if necessary. I don’t have any of the blocking mats, though the idea of using the kids’ mats is great. I used on of those foldable cardboard mats for cutting fabric. I placed that on the dining room table, put a dry towel on top, then pinned the item using the T-pins onto it. I then let it dry naturally – of course trying to keep the cat off it. Next time I’ll try the steamer. I just bought a new iron with a steaming feature (though I’ve yet to try it), so perhaps I’ll try that next time.

  4. My sister in law bought me foam floor mats for exercise machines that I use for blocking. They click together like the children’s play mats, but were less expensive and you get more squares in a pack which is great for larger projects.

  5. There’s two tips on blocking that I found really helpful. I wash with eco-friendly ‘delicates’ laundary soap by soaking in my sink (3 washes… one with soap, 2 with water) making sure not to agitate too much. My first tip is to layer the knit items into a double-folded towel and roll the item up into a candy-wrapper-fashion to pull out any excess water… sometime I use 2-3 towels. This partially dries the item without felting it.

    My second tip is to use your couch or futon as a blocking mat… I have u-shaped blocking pins that I push into the futon and it creates a lovely flat surface to work on.


  6. Oh, I forgot to say that blocking wires are the best thing ever when it comes to blocking a lace scarf. I just bought mine, but I’m sure you could buy straight wire from Rona or some other building supply place for cheap.

  7. I hand wash the FO with my usual gentle washing soap and let it soak for 5-10 minutes, then rinse out and give it GENTLE squeezes to get out most of the water. Then I spread it out on a big beach towel, roll it and step on it for a minute or so to get more water out. Last, I use another (dryer) beach towel to lay out the object to the desired size & shape and pin it with safety pins. On a sunny summer’s day, almost anything will dry in a couple of hours outside. For the rest of the year, it usually takes at least a day indoors.
    I did this ‘properly’ the first time with a lace shawl, and I couldn’t believe the difference it made. Now I do it for all my other projects as well. Makes a huge difference on larger things like shawls, sweaters & dresses.
    Hope this helps someone!

  8. For me, the blocking technique all depends on the knitted item. For lace, there’s nothing like a good soak in eucalan or another no-rinse soap, and then stretching it to within an inch of its life and pinning on blocking mats (I agree with all the comments about using those toy mats that click together).

    For sweaters, I’m more likely to get out a spray bottle, spray the garment, and then lightly press it with an iron. If the yarn is delicate, or there’s a stitch pattern that I don’t want to get flattened (like cables), I’ll just hold the iron a few millimeters above the fabric to dry it, or put a towel overtop the garment and then iron directly on the towel.

  9. I really like my sweater-drying rack for blocking pieces pinned out to size, or whole garments blocked after finishing. For anything I need to stretch and pin out hard, or big projects, I use the floor play blocks so I have lots of room and can really dig those pins in. I have some wires for lace blocking, too, so I don’t have to use so many pins for scarves and things. I usually wash my work before I block it, and wrap it in a big towel like a jelly roll, then put it in the washer for a spin cycle. That way the knitting is safe from stretching, but the water is really pulled out well.
    Sandra Streifel

  10. I’ve happily used a (cleaned) tin pie plate to block tams – good circumference and I find the higher sides give a nice shape too.

  11. For larger items like shawls that don’t need aggressive blocking, but need over a day, I will use a towel on my carpeted floor and then loosely pin. I love using the bed to block, but I also need to sleep in it! Additionally when I run out of T-pins, I use safety pins that I have for basting quilts.

  12. Some projects just take a light steam-blocking but for those that need a serious blocking I use the kids’ foam playmats and T-pins. I also purchased welding wires from a local welding shop to use for long straight edges such as those on a shawl. They are much less expensive than the ones from knitting supply shops (they charge you by weight – I got 6 for around $12). You MUST clean them before using though, they have a kind of shop dust on them that washes off easily with soap and water.

  13. (Sorry, I posted a comment from my WordPress account, but my blog isn’t set up yet. Resubmitting…)

    Blocking mats, especially the foamy kind that link together (often on sale at Canadian Tire, sold as children’s play mats), can often be stood up vertically against a wall — useful if you don’t have space to leave your blocking out where your cat could wander over it. I pin my blocking down and then slide the mat into a closet (laundry machine closet) where it dries while propped up against the wall. (This might not work well with a heavy project, something big knitted out of bulky wool for example, as gravity could be a factor.)

  14. Blocking mats, especially the foamy kind that link together (often on sale at Canadian Tire, sold as children’s play mats), can often be stood up vertically against a wall — useful if you don’t have space to leave your blocking out where your cat could wander over it. I pin my blocking down and then slide the mat into a closet (laundry machine closet) where it dries while propped up against the wall. (This might not work well with a heavy project, something big knitted out of bulky wool for example, as gravity could be a factor.)

  15. My “Blocking Mat” is those big kids foam floor squares that click together. I got them at Canadian Tire for $10 for a 4 pack. Then I took a yard stick and a sharpie and marked it out. Much more appealing price tag than the most times over $200 to purchase a pre-made one and it’s just as collapsable for storage!
    I would also say that a clothes steamer is essential. I got mine from a lady on Craigslist. She’d purchased it for her clothes and only used it once. $40. Amazing. Makes blocking a breeze! Plus, if you’re going to use any acrylic, you can TOTALLY block acrylic (and should) with the steamer. It comes out so much softer and unlike wool, once acrylic is blocked it’s set for life =) A good thing to know for those people that you’re worried will ruin a beautiful wool piece. You can still make a beautiful piece that’s hardier and more affordable!
    The big items? I still will immerse the finished object in the tub, drain the tub, GENTLY press the water out, roll it up in a bunch of towels, stomp on it, then pin it to dry on my budget friendly blocking mat.
    Oh yes, and rust proof t-pins are a total necessity. I just find that straight pins don’t stand up as well as the t-pins do.

  16. I block large knitted or woven items on the bed. I pin the (usually) lace shawl or blanket directly onto the mattress after it’s been through the spin cycle in the washing machine, by sticking the pins in at a 45 degree angle down into the bed (like they are in the picture above). I then play a hair drier on it to speed the process. I’m very impatient! If it’s a large blanket that holds a lot of water even when spun in the washing machine then I put a towel between it and the mattress.

    If I don’t have time for the whole hair drier thing, I pin the thing to a rug and go out to play.

    To block yarn I’ve handspun, I liberate a gallon plastic milk container from my neighbour’s recycling, fill it with water, and hang it from the wet yarn skein (on the line or over a door knob). BTW I usually rinse my yarns in hair conditioner. If it’s good for my hair, it’s going to be good for the sheep’s hair too.

    If I have a sweater that I want to block to stretch it, I either do the mattress/pin thing and pull it out to the size I need, or I hang it wet, but unspun on the line. To make it longer, I weave a circular knitting needle in and out of the welt, and pull it tight. I weave another circular needle round the sweater under the arms and pull that tight. I hang the dripping sweater from the line by the underarm circular needle, then hang the milk jug weight from the welt needle. I can add 10 cm to a wool or cotton sweater that way. Not recommended for cashmere!

    I think we’re way too respectful of our handmade clothing (can you tell?). I’ve changed up and down by 4 sizes in my life and all my sweaters have just had to accommodate that, either by stretching or being cut and then stitches picked up and a new welt/sleeve/seam put in.

    Oh, and if the sweater is a good fit when it’s finshed, isn’t lace, and doesn’t have energised singles skewing, then I don’t block at all. Plenty of time to do that the first time it’s washed in the summer!

  17. If you can afford them, invest in the rust-proof T-pins you see in your LYS. Pins purchased at the hardware store will RUST and could leave brown spots on your project. The T-shape makes for easier handling when pinning and removing pins. They’re great. Jodi

  18. I’ve only blocked one FO and I used a clothes steamer. I pinned my FO into a thick comforter and left it to dry on there. I’m glad you’re creating a zine with tips – blocking still remains kind of a mystery to me!

  19. I like to add a bit of lightly scented soap or essential oils to my water, to help mitigate some of the wet wool smell that happens when you block. It also helps the piece smell nice after it’s dry. Cheers!

  20. My fave blocking tip is to immerse the FO in water and some Soak, squeeze it out just a bit and then put it in a big colander and hang off the side of the tub. I let it drip for an our or so, then roll up in towels and step on it to squeeze the rest of the water out. Then I shape it and let it dry!

    The main thing is letting it drip for awhile from the colander – it really reduces stretching, plus you don’t get all soaking wet trying to squeeze all that water out.

    Good idea guys!

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