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Tips Tuesday: How to Block a Shawl February 18, 2014

If there’s a windy windy rain storm going on outside,
the best thing to do is get cozy,
then get busy…

Today in Portland, after bundling up in some comforting wool, I got to it.

I’ve been finished knitting my 4th ALBY shawl for quite awhile but have been putting off blocking it because, ew, blocking.

The first three Alby’s that I made were blocked upstairs in the attic – on the carpeted floor. This was the biggest area I could find that wouldn’t be disturbed while the shawls dried to measure.

Several times during the mulitple blocks, I felt time stand still – had to keep pinning and re-pinning, all while crawling around on the floor. Torturous.

{hint: don’t wear skinny jeans while doing this – heh!}

It seemed to just go on and on and on, like my own Personal Ground Hog Day, Shawl Style.

Never again, I vowed.

Tips for Shawl Blocking on the Chic Knits Knitting Blog

This time around, while I was soaking the shawl, I did a little more surveying around the house looking for someplace I wouldn’t exhaust both my back and my patience.


Tips for Shawl Blocking on the Chic Knits Knitting Blog

The dining room table.

Evolution: the very first surface I used to block on was a big cardboard box that I’d flattened. I thought it would be good to pin into and protect the carpeting. By the time I got to Shawl #3, I’d quit fooling around and was now the owner of a rubber play mat made of interlocking pieces that you could build-to-size for any blocking project.

Why not combine the two to protect the table AND be able to walk around the entire thing while shaping and pinning…

Handy-Dandy Shawl Blocking Tips:
clockwise from l. to r. Upper Picture

  • Soak the shawl in some warm, slightly soapy water for about 1/2 hour, then rinse.
  • Place out on a towel in general final shape then roll in towel to remove excess water. I find this “pre-shaping” trains the fiber to want to go into the blocked shape more easily.
  • Remove from towel and place on blocking surface in final shape, anchoring with a few T-pins to match pattern schematic dimensions. Thread blocking wires through outside edge then start pinning out points.
  • Adjust as necessary so all points are as equal in size as possible and no stress or mis-shaping is appearing on other areas of shawl.
  • Let air dry.

But wait, I forgot something – here’s the real secret to my success…

Can’t wait for this to be ready to wear – it is made from some very lovely comfy yarn – Bare Naked Wools Breakfast Blend Fingering (in Oatmeal) and Araucania Ranco (in Navy). perfect to Mind the Gap I’m feeling inside here today. :)

6 responses to “Tips Tuesday: How to Block a Shawl February 18, 2014”

  1. My process is very similar. I’ve been pinning into a cardboard cutting board (for sewing) for years, but now I have blocking mats. I’ll stack them on the cutting board! I love blocking during the summer, because i put the board on top of one of our patio tables. Very nice.

    Alby is gorgeous!

  2. Penny says:

    I agree on both points ew – blocking and the secret to your success – chocolate!

  3. Susan says:

    After we finished our kitchen remodel in December, I insisted on buying a pub-height table. “Because it will be same height as the counters and can be used for prep like an island” I argued. I didn’t admit that I think it will be the perfect thing for blocking. Even blocking on the dining table, which is 6″ lower, can bother my back. The new table, with a stool beside it, will make the process easier.
    However, with my cutting board and blocking wires, I enjoy blocking most of the time. I just love to see the outcome.

  4. Raymonde says:

    I agree, chocolate is the best kept blocking secret!

  5. Judith says:

    Love the shawl! I also use a table. I have a Horn cutting out table which is a good height to stand at. However my blocking secret is my salad spinner to spin out the excess water , neater and less mess than a towel and the force of a spin is entirely under your control.

  6. Gerri says:

    Enjoyed the laugh after I clicked on the secret. I have interlocking blocks for long shapes, bought after my original purchase of a big folding, padded and grided blocking board. Love the lines on the one, the flexible shape of the other.

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