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…
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.
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.
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?
Wow! I had such a productive long weekend! While most of it felt relaxing (because I was knitting), I got so much done (mostly in the knitting department…I also made cookies). One of the things that I finished was my Great Divide shawl. And I’m in love.
Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really into wearing shawls. That is definitely going to change. It’s exactly what I need for chilly spring days. (Speaking of, it was way more than chilly while taking these photos. Oh my god was I freezing. Can you tell?) I’m psyched that I had these colors in my stash. I’m one happy camper.
I’ve recently discovered that I totally love blocking. I used to really hate it (I might’ve mentioned it here). In an effort to change my ways, I’ve had a tub for blocking for a while now and I bought some proper wool soap (though I’ve used Doctor Bronner’s – which my aunt Sherry said she used to use on embroideries, thanks for the tip! – the past couple of times since my wool wash was packed away and I’ve enjoyed the results!). I guess having some space in the new apartment to lay out the pieces without being totally in the way is encouraging. The blocking kit my mom got me helps too, though I’ve had that for a long time, too.
Although this wasn’t lace per se, this piece really needed a good blocking and everything opened up beautifully! I’m totally learning the merits of blocking my knits and I don’t hesitate to do it any longer!
I’m very excited about this shawl! It looks like I’m still growing as a knitter! Knitting shawls and blocking things! What a change! Maybe I’ve been replaced with an alien or a robot? I like cleaning the kitchen now, too. I’m definitely sick, guys.
Brb, going to check WebMD.
How do you feel about blocking? What’s something you made that surprised you?