Or is that pictorial tutorial?
Today, I bring you a tutorial on how to to block your knitting. Blocking is washing or steaming your garment so everything lays as it should. Your knitting will look at least 50% better after blocking.
Blocking is very, very important. If you do not properly block your garments, the knitting police will revoke your knitting permit and gouge your eyes out with Susan Bates Circular Needles.
Question: Will blocking my sweater make me look like Cindy Crawford?
Answer: No, only genes and plastic surgery can do that.
Question: Will blocking my hat keep me from looking like a homeless person?
Question: Will blocking make my brown eyes blue?
Answer: Yes, if you also wear colored contacts while blocking.
Question: Will blocking make my knitting look utterly sublime?
Answer: Most definitely.
Step One: Knit something. Block it. Admire your handiwork.
Step two: Knit an identical thing from a different colorway. Don't block it.
Step three: do a foot-to-foot comparison of the blocked vs. the unblocked thing.
Step four. Call the knitting police and turn yourself in. Speak with the district attorney and make arrangements to get on their home monitoring program until all of your knits are well and truly blocked.
Step five. Knit something else, like a Hollygrove Hat. Check in with your probation officer and confirm your plans to block the item in a timely fashion once knitting is complete.
Step six. Give the item a bath. Tepid water, a little wool wash or mild hair shampoo. Soak for 10-20 minutes.
Step seven: *GENTLY squeeze out the extra water from your garment. *GINGERLY place the item in a mesh bag. A pillowcase will also work.
Step eight: *TENDERLY place the bag at the bottom of your washing machine. This will also work with a front loader. I've done it myself with two separate models and it works fine. Don't lie to me.
If you're using a top loader like we have in the studio, it might help to place some clean but linty towels opposite the bag you've so *DELICATELY placed at the bottom of the washer. This will help keep the washing machine from ka-thunking across the floor with its unbalanced load.
Step nine. Turn your washing machine to **SPIN CYCLE ONLY. Stand there and listen to make sure you don't hear water entering the machine. If you hear water, stop it immediately and move the control somewhere else, randomly, willy-nilly, until you do NOT hear water entering the machine.
If you don't have a washing machine, use a salad spinner to get the excess water out.
If you don't have a salad spinner, go outside and swing your arm around and around 5,000 times to get the extra water out via centrifugal force.
Step 10: Stop judging me for my dye splotched washing machine. My washer at home is much cleaner, OK? I work with dyes all day, OK? I don't have time to scrub my hands with surgical precision fifty times a day, OK?
Step 11: While the garment is being spun out, prepare the high-tech hat drying apparatus. It is ***VERY IMPORTANT that you buy Happy Birthday balloons for this project. Balloons that say anything other than Happy Birthday (or worse, say nothing at all) are completely unacceptable.
Step 12: Inflate balloon to desired size. It's useful to measure the recipient's head before doing this. If that's not possible, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Self, does the recipient of my hat have a big head or a small head?
2. Self, does the recipient of my hat have a bigger or a smaller head than me?
3. Self, what is the circumference of our head?
****Then somehow use the information you glean from the answers to questions 1-3 to guesstimate how big the recipient's head is.
I guesstimated that the recipient of my hat is 6'5", and thus he must have a bigger head than people who are average height.
I guesstimated that I bore thirty pounds of the recipient's children and can personally attest that the children all had heads that were bigger than the average baby.
Thus, I guesstimated that the recipient had a head circumference of 25ish inches.
Step 13: place high-tech blocking apparatus in a bowl to hold it upright.
Step 14: *CAREFULLY remove the hat from the spin cycle of the washing machine. It should now be just damp and not dripping water all over the place.
Step 15: Place hat on high-tech blocking apparatus and arrange as desired.
HELLO? It already looks way better, and it's not even dry yet.
Step 16: Leave high-tech blocking apparatus alone for a while, until the hat dries completely. This could take anywhere from 12-48 hours.
I did not take pictures of the high-tech blocking apparatus sitting alone for 48 hours, but this is pretty much what it would look like:
Step 17: When the hat is dry, remove it from blocking apparatus for photographing. Any knitter will tell you that it's important to photograph your projects immediately after blocking, because they'll probably never look this good again. *****Also, it's good evidence for your probation officer to demonstrate that you are complying with the terms of your probation.
Step 18: Pose the hat so it looks adorable.
Step 19: Take at least one more artsy photo of your garment for auld lang syne:
And there you have it: a pictor(i)al tutorial, proof positive on the importance of blocking.
*By gently, gingerly, tenderly, delicately, and carefully, I mean toss it in any old way at all. It's a hat, not an egg.
** By Spin Cycle Only, I mean Spin Cycle Only.
To block other garments that are not head shaped, you can simply lay your damp item on a towel in a safe spot and smooth it out to shape it. There are also specialized blocking tools, like sock blockers, which are a sock-shaped form you can place your damp sock on to let it dry. (This is not a requirement, however.)
Any project that involves lace will also require a good blocking, as the lace will look like wet spaghetti until it's stretched to the correct shape. You can use pins to keep your lace in a good shape until dry, or you can also purchase specialized blocking wires designed for lace.