03
May

Blocking Cotton

Written by Sarah on May 3rd, 2013 Posted in blocking, knits, lace, sweater, technique, WIP

I will admit that blocking has only recently become my favorite thing ever. I used to really hate it. I’ve mentioned that once or twice before. But it’s the best. THE BEST. When I finished knitting up the Poolside top, I was really excited to block it. The lace definitely needed a little relaxing and I was hoping that the stitches would lay a little bit neater.

Here’s the thing. I’m still not the biggest fan of cotton yarn. It was fun to try out a top in this fiber and the Blue Sky Alpacas really does cotton justice. It made me re-think the way that I feel about cotton. That being said, the stitches are VERY defined. It’s a nice, crisp look but it also highlights wonky parts were weaved in and where new skeins were joined. And basically if my tension varied at all, you could tell. So this guy needed a blocking.

Here’s a before shot. Don’t mind the dramatic shadows…

blocking cotton

 

It’s all pinned down but you can kind of see what I mean about the stitches being defined in the left sleeve. It’s not really meshing and smooshing together the way that wool does, the stitches just kind of sit next to each other telling all of the other stitches to bugger off.

Anyway, when I went to block this, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything properly. I think I’ve only made dishtowels out of cotton yarn and those really don’t need to be blocked. That just sounds silly. Anyway anyway, I turned to this helpful guide from Knitty. Remember, kids: Different fibers need to be treated differently! You can’t just dunk everything into a basin of warm water and Soak.

Cotton needs to be steamed. This is how I did it since my iron is a piece of crap and I don’t have a steamer.

blocking cotton 2

I took an old pillowcase and soaked it in the sink. I wrung it out a little and placed it over my sweater which was laid out on a blocking mat. (I pinned it down since I wanted the lace to stretch out a bit. Whether you pin your blocking is up to you and the way you want the fabric of your sweater to turn out. Think about that!)  Then I ironed it out and removed the pillowcase.

Another pro tip: Ask someone else to take a photo of you ironing. It’s really hard and probably dangerous to photograph and iron simultaneously.

blocking cotton 3

Ta da! That’s it! There’s what it looked like immediately after ironing. I tried it on after it dried for 24 hours. Cotton is tough. It doesn’t want to stretch out the way other natural fibers might but the neckline did kind of lose its shape. The lace, though, looks really beautiful in this color and fiber.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out and it’s always fun to try some new blocking techniques! More photos of the FO coming soon!

Have you ever blocked cotton yarn? Any tips?

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Comments (3)

  • Rebecca
    May 6, 2013 at 10:36 pm |

    Thanks so much for this timely tip! Your sweater looks great. I tend to wet-block everything, but I’m working on a sport weight cotton scarf with some special-to-me yarn from Paris, and I want it to look good. I will use your technique for this FO (when it’s finished).

  • Jamie
    May 7, 2013 at 11:13 pm |

    Where did you get your blocking mat(s) from? I think I’ve graduated from towel blocking so I’m on a lookout for those mats!

    • May 8, 2013 at 9:42 am |

      They are from Coco Knits. I love them because you can put them into different configurations and they come with pins. My only problem is that, since they spend a lot of time on the floor, they’ve picked up some lint and dirt (wow I sound so gross!) I plan on giving them a serious once over with a lint roller!

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