Saturday, May 5, 2012

Techniques: Blocking II

Blocking



What you need:


  • A large enough area to hold the full piece to be blocked. The surface should have a padded covering to receive pins. Iron board for smaller pieces, carpet, blocking boards you can buy in your LYS can be used. Some people like to use the interlocking puzzle mats  but be sure that they are colorfast before using them. Some people like to cover their surface with a checked fabric to make it easier to pin the pieces to size evenly. 
  • Pins: They should be rustproof. T-pins are ideal since they can be easily placed and don't disappear in the knitting.
  • Some people like to use blocking wires. These are especially helpful for lace knitting.
  • For steam blocking you need either a iron, handheld steamer, steam iron and a pressing cloth. This could be either an old pillow case, kitchen towel or some fabric which is not to thick.
  • Tape measure
  • Spay bottle

Pinning a piece for blocking:

  • Put the piece on the blocking surface right side facing. This way you have more control about what is happening during the blocking process. This is especially important if you work with a piece which has pattern stitches like cables. You don't want to flatten the structure of your pattern stitch through too much steam, stretching....
  • Keep all the pieces straight and even as you pin them, smoothing them from the center out. This is where a checkered surface helps...
  • Make sure that the measurements of your piece are accurate. (For a sweater for example: finished bust measurements, arm length, length, arm width....) Through blocking you can add some length to a piece but be careful not to over stretch.
  • Be careful to place the pins close enough (approx. 1" / 2.5 cm) so that you don't create scalloped edges or leave marks. 
  • Pin matching pieces like front and back of a sweater side by side to make sure that they are both blocked to the accurate size. If the pieces should be of identical size you can block them on top of each other.

Techniques


Steam Blocking:


For this method you will use either an iron, or steamer. Never place the iron directly ono your knitted piece.

  • Pin your piece out to the desired dimension.
  • Wet your pressing cloth and wring it out so that it is damp. You could also use the spray bottle.
  • With the hot iron slightly press down on the cloth so that the iron barely touches it. lift the iron and then go to the next spot on your piece. Don't move the iron on damp cloth with pressure since friction, water and heat might the fiber you block cause to felt.
or
  • Pin
  • Don't use the pressing cloth and set your iron to a steam setting. Float the iron over the surface of you to be blocked piece without touching, forcing the steam through. Let the fabric dry and cool.

Animal fiber: 
Wool, Alpaca, Cashmere, Llama, Camel but be sure to set your temperature carefully
Plant fiber: 
all of the  plant fiber except silk, they can stand warmer temperatures than protein fiber
Man made fiber:
not recommended
Synthetic blends: 
If the plant or protein fiber content is high possible but only on low heat and very carefully.

Wet Blocking


Wet blocking is a great method if you need to add length to your garment.


  • Wet the pieces of the garment.
  • Press out the excess water using towels.(Never wring -- some fibers are fragile when wet and you can damage the fabric this way!) I usually roll a piece gently into a towel.
  • Pin and let the pieces dry, usually over several days.
Fiber you can use for this method:

Animal fiber:
Wool, Alpaca, Cashmere, Llama, Camel
Plant fiber: 
This is not my preferred blocking method for this type of fiber
Synthetic blends:
Good method for this type of fiber.

Spritz blocking


This method is very good for delicate fabrics and fiber since it is a very gentle process.

  • Pin
  • Using a spray bottle, spritz the pieces until damp and let dry.

Suitable for all fiber types.