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.
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!
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
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!
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 !
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!
It’s not clear to me which side of the blocking rules should be up. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
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 :)
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.
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.
If you blocked it too big, can you wet it and do it over again? The yarn is 100% wool.
That is Paulina, one of Julie’s earlier patterns.
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!
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 :)
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.
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”.
Thank you for this information! It is great that you respond so quickly! I feel so much better prepared to start my first blocking.
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!
Can I take my knitted blanket to a professional dry cleaner for blocking? Would it be best to try to do it myself?
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!
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?
Hi Sandra, Unless you want to stretch the ribbing out for some reason, you should only steam it lightly, having pinned it in its relaxed form. Hope that helps!
Hi, thank you for the article. Should I steam also the rib stitch?
In general, yes, as long as you aren’t trying to add a great deal to the measurements. As always, try it on your swatch to see which blocking method you prefer and how much you can modify the size. If you use heat, your piece will not return to original measurements after washing. For a less permanent method, try wet blocking.
Hope that helps and best of luck!
Can you successfully block to achieve size on a garment made with acrylic yarn
You’re welcome! This will work for your blend. Always check your ball band and follow the instructions given for the yarn so that you don’t get any surprises.
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