Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blocking

I've been knitting most of my life, but I've never been much of a blocker... until now.  I recently made this Fishtail Scarf".  It was really lumpy bumpy and the holes looked pretty messy.

I did some reading on blocking, and for this project, I learned that I need to pin the piece in shape on a blocking board.  I went to some yarn shops and saw very nice systems with very high price tags.  I'm happy to spend money at yarn shops, but I want to spend it on YARN!  So here's my brainstorm...

I got these interlocking spongy rubber mats that are used in garages.  I know people who put them around their long arm quilting machines to ease foot and back pain standing for long periods. 


They interlock, like puzzle pieces.  I can change the configuration to make a long mat for a scarf, or a large square for a sweater.  


I put a few towels over them.  I'll probably get some of that flannel fabric with a 1-inch grid to put over it for projects that need to be blocked to a particular measurement.  But for the scarf, the measurements weren't critical.

I soaked my scarf in SOAK.  I have also used a product called EUCLIN.  This was the first time I tried Soak.  (Just follow the directions on the bottle).
 
Then I gently squeezed the water from the scarf (emphasis on GENTLE and SQUEEZE (not wring)).  Then I put the scarf on a clean towel and rolled it- and gently squeezed the towel roll.  This gets most of the water out of the scarf.

Then I took lots of pins and stretched it and patted it all down where I wanted it.  It's important to put lots of pins in so you don't get funny places where the pin pulls it.  You need enough pins to make it smooth.  The pins go right through the towel and into the squishy floor mats.

Here's my scarf- all pinned on my new "blocking boards".  It's important to just leave the item alone until it's dry.  I visited it in the laundry room a lot-- giving it nice little "pats".

And the finished product!  The Soak made the scarf soft and it smells really nice.  It almost looks like it was ironed, but it's not smushed down like it would have been if I ironed it.  (Not to mention the fact that ironing it would have felted the wool).

And the best part?  The garage floor mats cost $12.95 and the blocking boards in the yarn shop were about $50.  That leaves more money for yarn- yea!

12 comments:

Cathy said...

How interesting a use for these blocks! Great idea!

Patty said...

Very clever.

Kaye said...

Oh Dear your story brings back memories of the old curtain stretchers. My Mom used them all the time and boy I hated them, had so many sore fingers stretching and pulling those curtains on the frame. If I remember correctly the pins to hold curtains were just like straight pins. Wow a trip down Memory Lane

Carmi said...

Sue,
What is "Soak"?

Sue said...

Soak and Eucalan are products sold in yarn shops to clean and condition fine knitted (crocheted, tatted...) garments. It's gentle on the wool and extends the life of the garments. It conditions the yarn- relaxing it and making the stitches look more even. It might be my imagination, but I think the finished products even look brighter after the first time the products are used. Maybe it takes off chemicals used in the dying process... I'm not sure. All I know is that I like what it does to my knitting.

Kim said...

I think the yarn tends to get coated with the oils from your fingertips and then can catch dust and dirt. Soaking just cleans all that up. That's really a pretty scarf pattern...love that yarn! My blocking method is even cheaper, I put old towels on my bed. ;-)

Melinda said...

What a clever girl you are. Great idea.

Brenda said...

What I've used for blocking is one of those fold-up cardboard "cutting out" mats from the fabric store. Not the traditional "cutting mat" we think of for rotary cutting, but one that you can lay fabric out on, make sure it's straight and on grain and pin your sewing pattern to. I think they are only a couple of dollars, especially if you have a coupon (I don't know for sure, I've had mine forever). I've also used it to layer smaller quilts. I think the size is 48" x 72" or somewhere close to that. The cardboard is at least 1/4" thick, so you can pin into it easily. The whole thing is covered with a 1" grid. If I were doing a lot of blocking of damp projects, I'd just give the top a couple of coats of spray varnish or polyurethane so you wouldn't have to use any kind of towel or fabric that would cover up the grid which is very helpful for blocking.

Hey Sue, I am still alive, sort of. And I now have my new internet service, sort of. Will e-mail you soon.

Brenda

Sue said...

They would be great for blocking, Brenda! I still have several of them. I remember using them as cutting boards when I used to make my own clothes--- many years ago. If you don't need the grid, you could just throw a towel over them and use them the way I used the mats.

Sue said...

For Carmi and others who asked.... Soak and Eucalin (I spelled it incorrectly in the post) are products sold in yarn shops for blocking. You mix it with cold water and soak your knitted items in it. Then you gently squeeze out the water and lay it on your blocking area. Soak and Eucalin clean and condition the yarn. They're great products.

And, Carmi- Quilt Soap is amazing. I think I'll do a post about it one of these days.

Judy S. said...

Thanks for the blocking info. I love the scarf. Was it knit lenghtwise? That's an interesting pattern.

Colleen's Blog Long Island NY said...

The scarf looks beautiful. Love the colors.