Blocking is one of my least favourite parts of knitting something, although to be fair, I don’t really know why as it isn’t exactly difficult, just fiddly and time consuming. However, especially in the case of a garment which has a lot of lace detail, like my cardigan, the transformation in the look of a finished piece and a blocked and finished piece can be quite dramatic and makes the process so worth while.
For those non-knitters amongst you, blocking is the method by which a piece of knitting is stretched and shaped to reach the dimensions of a finished piece as per the pattern. It is essential to the finished look of a garment as it enables the knitter to make sure that pieces of a garment that need to be the same size are (like the two fronts of my cardigan for example) and it also helps to ‘open up’ a lace pattern.
If you look at the before picture of my finished cardigan you can see the the fronts aren’t the same length and even the shape where the sleeves join the main body, isn’t quite right but compare it to the newly blocked cardigan in the top photograph and I think you can see what I’m talking about.
To block my cardigan I decided to get the large piece of board Mud bought so that I can do my 1000 piece jigsaws (which he hasn’t got around to cutting to size yet) and lay it on top of the pool table. I then covered this with the plastic table cover used when the Mudlets decided they want to paint, play with plasticine, do sticking and gluing etc, and then I placed a large bath towel over this. Then on top of all this, I laid out my cardigan.
With the pattern within easy reading distance and pins and a tape measure to hand, I began the slow process of pinning and measuring until the garment was the correct size:
- I pinned the center of the back neck band down first then measured back to the shoulder, using half the overall shoulder to shoulder measurement;
- Once shoulder one was secured I was then able to measure from shoulder to shoulder and pinned the second one in place;
- Next was the length from shoulder to bottom edge;
- Then once the bottom corners were the right length from the shoulders, I spent a few minutes unpinning and re-pinning until the width across the bottom was the same as the shoulder to shoulder measurement; and
- Of course I then had to recheck the length again but eventually the four corners were in the right place.
Then followed the tricky business of getting the fronts the same size:
- I started by pinning the band just above the button into place;
- Next I pinned the bottom corner of each front piece to the bottom back rib border, just off center.
- I then took the measurement from the back neck band to the bottom of the front piece to make sure these were the same length as the shoulder to bottom band. This required a little bit of tweaking but I got there in the end;
- Another pin was placed halfway down the ribbed border of each front piece, to hold them securely in place; and
- I then sorted out the under arm measurement, making sure it was the same as the shoulder to shoulder and bottom corner to bottom corner.
It only remained for me to make sure the sleeves were fastened down. Then after one last double check of all the measurements, I covered the cardigan with damp tea towels and left them to dry. A few hours later, I took the now dry tea towels off but I left the cardigan pinned in situ’ for another couple of hours to make sure it was completely dry.
I am really, really pleased with how this cardigan has turned out. I now need to wait for Eldest Mudelts wool to be in stock and I can start her Christmas present. In the mean time I had some of my wool left over and I knew that Kate in the craft shop had the other ball from the pack of ten, on her shelves and so I’ve asked her to keep it for me and I am knitting a bolero style top for Little Mudlet for Christmas, on the quiet, at night and when she’s at school.