How to Block Your Knitting

Blocking is a simple but vital step which will greatly improve the look of even the most beginner knitting. If you have made the effort to hand-knit something, it deserves to be blocked.

Check out our Knitter's Block and our Sweater Care Collection for all the tools you'll need. 

What is Blocking?

Blocking is the process of wetting or steaming your final pieces of knitting to set the finished size and even out the stitches.

You could use any flat surface to block your garments (I'm partial to the Knitter’s Block), just be sure that your knitted piece lies flat and fully dries so that its shape sets. Don't forget to check that moisture doesn't soak through and damage anything underneath it. (This has happened to me, which is why I developed the Knitter's Block — the blocks are backed with waterproof EVA so you can safely block on a bed, table or floor.)

Always block your finished pieces before seaming. By flattening and setting the shape of your pieces, you will be able to more easily line up your stitches to seam them together.

The fiber content of the yarn and the stitch pattern of your knitting will often determine how you block your finished pieces. Below you’ll find instructions on wet blocking, which is my preferred method.
 

Instructions for How To Block Your Knitting

1

Step 1: Wetting

Soak your knitted item in gentle wash per the yarn label instructions.

While your item is soaking, set up the surface that you will be using for blocking. If you’re using the Knitter’s Block, configure the tiles to accommodate your knitted item.

Drain the water, then gently squeeze (don’t wring) your knitting and roll it in a towel to extract as much moisture as possible. We recommend our Super-Absorbent Towel for best results.

2

Step 2: Blocking

A

Lay your damp knitting right-side up on the your blocking surface and gently nudge the piece to your finished measurements.

If you’re using the Knitter’s Block, place the Check Your Gauge Cloth onto the assembled tiles so it will be under your knitting. Each check measures approximately 1" square. Lay your damp knitting RS up onto the checked cloth and use the checks as a guide to get your correct finished measurements.

Pin the knitted item around the edges, placing the pins at an angle, with the top of the pin pointing away from the garment. Place the first pin in the top center, moving to the bottom center as you pin the piece to the correct length. Next, pin your work to the correct width (if blocking a sweater, start with the bust width). Fill in around the edges, always referring to your finished measurements.

Allow to air dry.

B

Arrange your damp knitting on your blocking surface and gently nudge and smooth the piece to your finished measurements.

If you’re using the Knitter’s Block, the tiles will gently grip your knitting so that the sweater stays in place. Place the gingham Check Your Gauge Cloth over the knitted item to check sizing if necessary.

To help hold rolling edges down either use a few T-pins or dampen a cloth and use its weight to hold down your knitting.

Allow to air dry.

3

Step 3: Steaming (optional)

  • Set the temperature of your iron to the lowest setting that allows steam.
  • While the iron is heating, saturate a cloth with water and squeeze out the excess so that it is no longer dripping but still very wet (not just damp).
  • For very heavy blocking (thick, coarse wool that you are trying to soften up, for instance) you can spray the whole piece with water from a clean spray bottle. This step is not necessary for medium/light blocking.
  • Lay the wet blocking cloth over the top of your pinned piece.
  • Gently use the iron to steam the entire piece in an up and down motion (never side to side) without any pressure. Using pressure may ruin your knitting.
  • Just barely touch the pressing cloth with the iron and hold it there a few seconds. Move on to the next spot until the whole piece has been steamed. The moisture of the steam is what does the blocking.

For light blocking, you can now lift the cloth and allow the knitting to dry.

For medium/heavy blocking, leave the cloth in place until it has dried. If your knitting is still damp, allow it to dry before removing.

Regardless of whether you block with or without steam, make sure your pieces are dry before moving them.

4

Seams

After you have sewn your garment together you may wish to steam the seams, especially if they are bulky or stiff. For shoulder and armhole seams, use a terry cloth hand towel folded and then rolled to the size and shape of your upper arm. Turn the garment inside out and fit the rolled towel into the shoulder and armhole openings. Steam the seams gently by using the wet pressing cloth and steam iron, and just barely touching the pressing cloth with the iron. Let the steam do the work.

Comments

Mary Kate

Thanks for this great tutorial! For the steam blocking step, how thick of a cloth should you use for the wet blocking cloth? Tea towel vs. bath towel or something in between?


Cocoknits

Hi Jayme, Wet blocking as described here will work fine for this yarn combination. If your mohair needs a little refreshing once it’s dry, our Sweater Care Brush, available at LYS and here on our website, will gently bring out the halo.


Jayme Franklin

Any recommendations for the best technique for blocking merino wool held with mohair in a sweater?


Cocoknits

Hi Pat, The Cocoknits Method produces garments in one piece, rather than in pieces, so the pictures show the blocking on Cocoknits Method sweaters. If you are knitting your sweater in pieces, blocking the pieces before seaming can make the process easier. Blocking works great on whole garments as well—this is what you will do when you wash your sweaters in the future.


Pat

When you said blocking before seaming, does it mean blocking each knitted piece separately? Your photos showed the garments already joined?
Also. If I have already put the pieces together into a completed garment, can it still be effectively blocked?


Cocoknits

Hi Ruth, Julie likes to use a no-rinse wool wash like Eucalan or Soak, so no rinsing required. If you use a different mild soap, you will want to gently rinse, being careful not to change water temperature or agitate. Yes, you can block the whole sweater together, pinning out anything you think needs to be pinned. Both wet and steam blocking work. We prefer wet blocking if we have the time. Our blocking mats are designed to let some air in under the garment to help with drying. You could also flip the piece over once it has dried for a while if necessary. Hope that helps!


Ruth

What a useful article! Just a couple of questions, firstly, do you soak the garment in plain tepid water or do you add soap and wash first, then rinse and block? Secondly, I am just finishing a child’s cardigan that is knitted all in one piece, so how do I successfully block the open edges, as these are the edges that are important to stay in shape? Is it OK to block in both front and back layers together, as I would hate the front to be ‘embossed’ on the back or vice versa; and would you recommend wet or steam blocking? Many thanks


Cocoknits

Hi Amihan,
Glad you found the article helpful! If your pattern doesn’t have a schematic that you can get blocking measurements from, just use what you have and your personal preference. Pin the body of the sweater so that it is half the bust circumference wide and the length given from the shoulder to the bottom.. Pin the sleeves so that they will fit the person who will wear the sweater. Since cotton tends to be heavy and stretch, you don’t want to pull the sweater too much to achieve the desired length, because it will stretch while wearing. Hope that helps!


Amihan

Hi ! I’m a beginner knitter and I’m making my first garment :> I don’t really know how to get the correct measurements I should pin to since my pattern just states the length and the bust circumference :( Does cotton block well too ? Your article was very helpful though ! Thank you !


Cocoknits

Hi Joan,

We’re not sure what you mean by the blocking “rule,” but if you mean the blocking tiles, the textured surface should be up because it creates airflow under the piece. Hope that helps!


Joan Miller

It’s not clear to me which side of the blocking rules should be up. Maybe it doesn’t matter.


Cocoknits

Hi Sarah, Julie’s “How to Wet Block” Tutorial shows Julie supporting the sweater as she lifts it from the water. That should give you what you need :)


Sarah

Hi

How do you stop the garment from stretching under its own weight when wet blocking? I don’t hang it at any point and just squish/press the water out of the pieces before laying out.


Cocoknits

Hi Maureen,
If the yarn isn’t superwash, it is definitely worth trying again. Check for how this specific yarn behaves with blocking by looking it up on Ravelry or the internet.


Maureen

If you blocked it too big, can you wet it and do it over again? The yarn is 100% wool.


Cocoknits

Hi Kim,
That is Paulina, one of Julie’s earlier patterns.


Kim

Hi – can you tell me which pattern the little sweater in the second photo was made with? (The one next to Step 2: Blocking.) Thanks!


Cocoknits

Hi Gina,
Wool blocks beautifully—even if you don’t want to block it to exact measurements, blocking evens the knitting out and makes a better looking fabric and shape. But it could be as simple a few puffs of steam or washing the sweater and laying it flat to dry before you wear it. And a lot of us might sneak a few wears in before we wash our sweater and do its first official blocking! Hope that helps :)


Gina

Is blocking (wet or steam) recommended when working with pure wool? From what I’ve read online, it sounds like blocking is less crucial when working with wool, especially chunky wool. But would love your expertise on this! Thank you.


Jillian

I am knitting a stitch sampler block afghan using Premier Anti Pilling worsted 100% Acrylic Yarn. I’ve got half of the first block done which is a full garter stitch block. It’s measuring 10” across the 40 stitches instead of the 91/2” that the directions call for. Will blocking help cinch the width in a bit when it’s fully machine wash and dry material? The directions say 91/2 inches “blocked”.


Marilyn H.

Thank you for this information! It is great that you respond so quickly! I feel so much better prepared to start my first blocking.


Cocoknits

Hi Linda,
If it’s big and cumbersome you might need to have it dry-cleaned, but Julie personally does not use petroleum-based dry cleaning. If you are able to, washing and blocking it at home is our preference. Hope that helps!


Linda Postma

Can I take my knitted blanket to a professional dry cleaner for blocking? Would it be best to try to do it myself?


Cocoknits

Hi Rachel,
It depends on the holders and how you are blocking. If you are steaming your piece, you can leave your Cocoknits Stitch Holders leather cords in, but you shouldn’t leave metal stitch holders in for any blocking. We haven’t tried wet blocking with our leather cords holding the stitches (and now we want to try :) ), so for now would probably put the stitches onto dental floss if we had to wet block. Hope that helps!


Rachel

Hi, I am making a baby sweater with the pieces having live stitches on stitch savers. Can I block with the stitch savers still in place?


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