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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blocking a knitted sweater

It has been my "get through the winter blues" project this year to make a sweater. Well winter is nearly over and the sweater is almost complete and it certainly did get me through the yucky, chilly months!

The final step before sewing all pieces together is called "blocking." Blocking is essential when you have pieces that need to be a specific size or shape. There are a few different ways to do this that can involve steaming, soaking in water, or spraying with water until damp. I am by no means an expert at blocking. To be honest, it always seemed like a big pain and I would choose my knitting projects accordingly to things that did not have to be blocked! However, a sweater certainly does need the shaping.

This is the front panel, completely dry and before blocking. You can see how the edges are slightly curling and the bottom makes a concave arc instead of a straight line.

I start by flipping the piece upside down and spraying with luke warm water until damp. Then blot gently on a clean, dry towel and flip the piece so that it is right side up.

Now spray on the front piece until just damp... you can see Pierre supervising the operation.

Then blot again just to get any excess water off, but the piece should not be soaking wet, just damp.

After blotting, move the piece to a new, completely clean and dry towel. I always try to use a color somewhat similar to the garment to avoid any staining or running of colors. The goal here is to use t-pins to pin the garment into the desired size and shape.

For example, here I am measuring across the bust and it should be about 18.5 - 19 inches for my size. I had to gently pull on the sides evenly to make sure this was accurate.

I found it easiest to get your bust measurement completed first and then start adjusting for length. Generally, my pieces needed more manipulating in the length and having the sides pinned down made it easier.

Your knitting pattern should have suggested measurements for the garment. Additionally, I always take measurements of a garment that I already own and love the fit. That way, you can assure yourself a sweater that fits the way you like it. I prefer shorter shirts and sweaters so adjusted the pattern accordingly.

And that's that! Here you can see the front panel as well as the two sleeves. You will want these COMPLETELY dry before you un-pin. I generally let them sit overnight.

I have already sewn the back and front panels as well as one sleeve. I can't wait to wear this - I really did enjoy every minute of knitting this pattern!

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