If you’re a rookie knitter (or a crochet first-timer) you might be a bit mystified by the instruction in a pattern to ‘block’ your work. Blocking is a way of stretching and shaping a finished piece of knitting or crochet so that it looks good and is the right size. 

Not all knitting or crocheting needs blocking but when it’s called for it is worth taking some time to do. Blocking can give your work a neater finish: you can flatten curled edges and because the blocking process relaxes the fibres in your yarn, you will get more even stitches and a better drape to the finished fabric. You’ve spent all this time making it, after all – why not make it look the best you can? You can use blocking to stretch your knitting to the right size as well as to mold it into the shape you want.

Start a block party!

There are three main blocking techniques – spray, wet and steam. In the spray technique you pin out your work to the right size and then simply spray it with a fine mist of water and leave to dry. For the wet blocking method, you immerse the knitting or crochet in water, then squeeze it all out before shaping the work. And for the steam method, you pin out your work and then hold a steaming iron over it. The method you use, however, will depend on your yarn, so be guided by the instructions in your pattern.

What you need

You will need a few bits of basic kit for blocking. Rust-proof pins and a suitable surface are the key items, but you can splash out on special equipment, such as blocking wires and large mats. Find out what’s needed in the Know-How feature in issue 2 of Knit & Stitch Creative, along with more detail on blocking techniques.