Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Steam blocking your knitting

Do you want your knitting to look its best? Do you ever find that when your knitting comes off the needles, it curls at the edges and doesn’t lie as flat as you’d like?

The answer is blocking!

Blocking is an important part of knitting: it smooths the knitting out, making it lie flatter and fixing its shape, while also smoothing out any wobbly stitches. Blocking is useful for items that need to be seamed – you can block all the pieces so they lie flat, then sew them all together once they are less prone to curl. If you’re picking up stitches, it’s much easier to do so from fabrics that have been blocked. Wet blocking works well for animal fibres, but doesn’t work so well for acrylics, which is where steam blocking comes in.

Steam blocking uses steam to penetrate the fibres in the acrylic. Acrylic fibres are made of plastic, which melts at high temperature; when you steam block an item, you’re not melting the fibres, just heating them up enough to set them in their final position. Steam blocking is permanent and gives an excellent finish to items knitted using acrylic yarns.

Steam blocking isn’t just for acrylics. You can also use it for other fibres: you might find it useful if you’re knitting a sweater and want to check how much longer to make a piece before you cast off. Rather than give the garment a full wet block, lie the knitting out and steam it so it can reveal its finished dimensions!

So, how do you steam block your knitting?

What you’ll need

  •  Ironing board (or a smooth, hard, heatproof, surface you’re happy to iron on)
  • Steam iron
  • Water
  • Towel (large enough for your project to lie on once the towel is folded in half)
  • Stainless steel sewing pins, ideally with brightly-coloured glass heads

Preparation

  1. Put up your ironing board or get your surface ready for ironing.
  2. Fold your towel into at least 2 layers and place it on the ironing board.
  3. Lie your knitting out on the towel, and pin it in place. Ensure the knitting is completely smooth, and any ruffles, etc., are pinned as you wish them to lie after steaming.
  4. Fill the steam reservoir of the iron with water. Switch the iron on to a high temperature with steam functionality and allow the iron to heat up.
  5. Switch the iron to the steam setting.

Steaming the knitting

  1. Hover the steam iron over the knitting so the steam fully penetrates the knitting. DO NOT LET THE IRON MAKE CONTACT WITH THE FABRIC! If the iron contacts the acrylic, the acrylic will melt.
  2. Use your hand to smooth out the knitting while the knitting is warm and damp. DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND IN THE STEAM! Steam is hot and will scald you.
  3. Work on one area of the knitting at a time. Once the whole piece has been steamed and smoothed, leave the knitting to cool and dry.
  4. Once the knitting is completely cool, remove the pins from the knitting and admire your finished work.






That’s all there is to it! If you found this tutorial useful, why not recommend it to friends? You can share it using the buttons below.

Pattern shown is Halloween in the Windows by Vikki Bird Designs. Available on Ravelry,* PayHip and LoveCrafts

*Ravelry link: may affect people with photosensitvity; proceed with caution.

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