Blocking is a finishing technique that sets the size of your knitting and the appearance of your stitches. Some blocking is desirable for any knitted piece, especially for sewn seams. The sleeve-to-body seam can be blocked before the underarm and side seams. To do this, sew the shoulder seams and then sew your sleeve to the body. Block this seam and then sew the underarm and side seams. For lace knitting done with fine yarn on larger needles, it is a necessary part of shaping and setting the lace pattern.

Steam Blocking

Steam blocking can be done quickly and is useful for blocking seams or setting a stitch pattern that doesn’t require much stretching.

What you need—steam iron, ironing, pins (optional).

Heat your iron to a setting that is cooler than the fiber you are blocking. Make sure you have plenty of water in the iron and that it is on the steam setting.

Lay your knitting flat on the ironing board with the wrong side facing up. Pass the iron over the knitting so that it barely touches the knitting. DON’T press down with the iron; let the steam do the blocking.

You can also use a pressing cloth between the iron and the knitting. Dampen the cloth to create steam when you apply the iron.

If you have a small piece of knitting, you can pin the knitting to the ironing board, stretching it to the desired shape or measurement. Pass the iron lightly over the knitting and leave the knitting pinned for several hours.

Wet Blocking

Wet blocking creates a more permanent set than steam blocking. It should be used with dimensional patterns such as cables or ribbing where steam blocking may crush the knitting. The spray bottle method is quicker and takes less time to dry. The immersion method will do the best job of blocking your knitting but takes more time to dry.

What you need—pinning surface, long pins, spray bottle full of water or tub of water.

Prepare a surface which you can stick pins into and can leave undisturbed for a day or two. You can buy blocking boards made for this purpose or pad a mattress or rug with blankets and towels.

Method 1—spray bottle

Lay out the pieces to be blocked and pin them into shape. Use long pins such as T-pins or quilting pins. Measure as you go and adjust if necessary. You may wish to place pins in the center of the knitting to shape or stretch out pattern stitches.

When you are happy with the shape and appearance of the knitting, spray the knitting until it is wet over the whole surface. Let the knitting sit undisturbed until it is dry.

Method 2—total immersion

Submerge the knitting in a tub of cool water until it is completely wet. Lift the knitting out of the water and hold for a moment to let the water drain off. Roll the knitting in a dry towel until the knitting is damp but not soaking wet. Pin as above and let dry.