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A pictoral tutorial

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?

Answer: Possibly.


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.

*** By very important, I mean not important at all.

**** By somehow use the information, I mean figure it out on your own. It's 12:50 am here and there's a dog, a cat, and a three year old asleep on me. I can hardly move my arms.

***** Once a law teacher, always a law teacher.

Project stats: Hollygrove Hat, designed by Judy Kaethler.
Yarn: Roslea Organic Chunky
Needles: Size US 3. I wanted the hat to be super dense so the recipient would have warm ears during his four hour shifts flooding the neighborhood hockey rink.
Colorway: Mine
Pattern modifications: I worked an extra 3" of ribbing at the bottom so the brim could be folded up and provide a double layer of warmth over the ears. I knit the size small to account for my larger gauge, and then did two extra repeats of the cable pattern before decreasing for the crown shaping. It fits (and works) beautifully. The pattern was superb. Easy to understand and memorize. A nifty weekend project, and a great foray into cables!

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Reader Comments (29)

I love reading your posts! They always make me laugh. And I have a baby hat, and wanted to wash it, and didn't know how to block it. A balloon. duh!
I remember the days of having a 3 year old and a dog asleep on me. fun times. And since I'm about to be a Nan to 2 lovely little girls, I will have those days again.
Oh, and love the hat. :-) And the brown, fabulous. I love brown.

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

So I've been on the lamb for almost 20 years, dodging the knitting police in every city - I've even gone underground... but it wasn't my fault. I wasn't loved as a child and taught the proper ways to block. I grew up in a house that didn't block, how was I to know what wasn't demonstrated at home.

I'm not a monster, just misunderstood. Now that you have shown me the way, I promise to block all of my items from here on out. *I promise, as God as my witness, I will no go without blocking again!

*Translations - cool post, I didn't know how to block but now I do and I won't forget it any time soon because this was sure funny - oh, and I have you bookmarked for easy reference... but mostly because it's funny.

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeppermint Mocha Mama

I knitted a baby hat last month for a friend. I was all out of Happy Birthday balloons. So I used a spaghetti squash. Perfect!

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIrishJenn

girl you funny! Loved this!

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteraimee pelletier

I have a busy morning, but it was a treat to slow down a bit and start my day with a good laugh AND helpful info. Thanks!

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKarin Rush

LOVE the balloon idea!! SO cool :) Have to have my kids blow it up though.

Unfortunately my front loading washer only has a rinse & spin cycle that I've ever been able to find :( Boo hoo.
To I roll my knits in a towel and walk on them. I'm so irreverent :D

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRhonnie

This might be my favorite post ever! How can you be so funny and so informative at the same time??? I have struggled with how to block hats, and I am afraid of the knitting police. Balloons! Bowls! Yay!

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy M

I almost never block mittens, socks or hats (sweaters....always) but from now on I will, most of the time. My salad spinner now has a new use. Balloons are on the shopping list. Excellent tips!

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLydia

Also, I have definitely failed to block and have blocked improperly. How do I find my local probation officer?

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy M.

You can call the knitting police directly at 1-888-BLOCK-ME

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYarnista

I love this post. I block hats on balloons too. Your posts are always wonderful to read.

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteryarnardent

"I wanted the hat to be super dense so the recipient would have warm ears during his four hour shifts flooding the neighborhood hockey rink."

So that's why you moved to Duluth! So. Freaking. Cool.

Hope your hubby and kids (and you!) have a fantastic time this winter on that neighborhood rink. I'm totally jealous.

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKinley

I love reading your posts. They can be a hoot!! Today's was no exception - while being helpful and insightful at the same time. How do you do it??? LOL

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy L

Gorgeous! I'm glad you liked the pattern :-)
Now let's talk about that colorway... i know you just put out a gazollion new colors, but could we please please pleeeeeeease have just one more? This brown is to die for. I think my husband needs the exact same hat.

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjudyka

You are definitely preaching to the choir here, but this was still fun and informative. I never would've thought of balloons for heads. I have a small headform but it's too small to be effective for most purposes, I think. How much of the skein of Carys does the hat take? What is the name of the green/brown colourway of the first sock?

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRhiannon

Woohoo! I'm glad my unblocked sock was able to help make a point. And...this post made me laugh. I love it so much. And my mother feels your sister and I both have huge heads.

Rhiannon...the sock is in Northwoods on Adorn. It looks so different from the Lindon version from the original club shipment. I love it so much!

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

It NEVER occurred to me to block a hat! I love knitting hats, and they look terrific on, but pitiful off. THANK YOU.

Now, what's the sock pattern? (Come on, girl, you knew I was going to ask!)

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGenia

WAIT a minute; there is no more Northwoods???

Oh, ah, breathe - I can do it with Roisin! (Which I have in stash, heehee)

At least I can if (ahem) I can find the pattern.

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGenia

Wait! It's late - sorry. I will use Roisin for the hat and I know which pattern that is.

All I need is the name of the pattern.

I'll shut up now and go to bed.

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGenia

The name of the sock pattern, that is.


January 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGenia

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