Friday, April 17, 2015

Block Party!

When I started knitting, I was pretty much terrified of doing anything to my finished work in fear that I would ruin my precious knitted item.  So as far as blocking went - I just didn't do it.  And frankly, that was a bad idea.  Blocking makes everything so much better! And in the instance of these Anthro Inspired Scarflets I've been making - It's necessity.

Here is what a couple of them looked like pre-blocking:

100% Wool

Also 100% Wool

100% Acrylic

See how they are all a bit bunchy and curly at the ends.  When knitting a stockinette type of pattern (this wasn't straight stockinette, but enough that it made it curl), it tends to curl in on itself.  For some patterns it can be a design feature.  But these, not so much.  They just look funky.

Different materials require different blocking techniques.  Wool is the most forgiving and really the simplest.  You simply wet the item in question, and lay it out flat on a towel or blocking board, pin it to the shape you want, and let it dry. When it is completely dry, it will maintain that shape.  The one downside to wool is that it is typically hand wash only, and you need to lay it out flat and reshape it to dry each time.  For something like these scarves, that it pretty simple.  You wouldn't need to pin it each time - just be sure if you are giving it to someone as a gift (like I am), to tell them the washing instructions!

Here is a very informative video on blocking various wool items: Click Here!

Here are the completed blocked wool scarves.

Bad Day Sparkle from The Lemonade Shop on Etsy!

Fishermen's Wool - Hand Dyed with Food Coloring

Fishermen's Wool - Also Hand Dyed with Food Coloring

As for acrylic yarn, a different technique needs to be used.  Simply wetting and drying won't change the structure of the yarn, and it will just dry and re-curl.  For acrylic, the steam blocking method needs to be used.  With a steady stream of hot steam, you are essentially breaking down and microscopically melting the acrylic to maintain the shape.  It relaxes, and evens out your stitches, just like the wool, and should maintain it's shape for life.

I haven't had to wash/dry a curled acrylic item yet, so I'm not 100% familiar with the process from start to finish.  If I were to wash a blocked acrylic item, I would probably still recommend drying it flat, in lieu of putting it through the dryer.  At some point I will have to do a test run on that.  In general, I prefer not to dry hand knitted items or most of my clothes in general since I feel they last a lot longer that way.  My husband has tshirts that fade and crack so fast, while mine still look practically new since I am not running them through the dryer weekly.

For steam blocking, you again pin out your object - except not wet, it remains dry. Take a steam iron or a clothing steamer and simply hold it about a half inch from your item and steam away.  I make two or three passes across and press on it gently with my hands - make sure not to steam your hands as you will most definitely burn yourself!  Let it sit a few minutes to dry - the steam will get it slightly damp.  Un-pin and it's good to go.  

DO NOT LET THE IRON TOUCH THE ACRYLIC.  It will melt the yarn and ruin the item unless that is the look you are going for.  This was part of the reason I was terrified of steam blocking my acrylic item.  I could see myself easily getting to close and bumping into the scarf.  I would be so bummed!

Check this out for a steam blocking tutorial! It's a shaky at home tutorial, but really shows how well the steam flattens what would be a very curled and bunched edging.

Here is the finished acrylic scarf.

Caron Simply Soft Paints in Colorway Rainbow Bright

So there you have it! I have one more scarflet to go and I can finally move on to something else! They are easy and quick knits, but I am ready for something new. I am still itching to move on to the shawl with my new acquired yarn from Florida, however, I also want to start a pair of socks. I don't think I'm going to make the Knit & Chat April Knit Along this time, but I'm guessing they will probably do one in May. So I may just end up making the shawl first.

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See you next week!

The CATT Lady

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