How I block lace

Recently I knit an Echo Flower Shawl with Classic Elite Mountain Top Vail. It was a present to my friend Jenni for her upcoming nuptials next weekend. It’s very hard for me to wait to surprise people, so I had to give it to her a weekend early. I don’t expect that it will be cool enough for her to wear on her wedding day with her dress, but I wanted her to have it anyway.

I don’t have a picture of her modeling it yet, but I will show you how I blocked it.  I think lace needs a nice wet blocking.

lace blockingThe shawl is bound off, without ends woven in, and is a lovely, but lumpy mess.

lace blocking-2I use lukewarm water and some no-rinse wool wash (Eucalan lavender scented in my case). For the wool wash, a teeny dribble goes a long way.

lace blocking-3I let this baby soak for at least a 1/2 an hour or more. You want the fibers to get wet and relax.

lace blocking-4Then I delicately lift the wet wool from the bowl.

lace blocking-5Gently squeeze out the water. Never twist or wring the item or you may cause some unwanted felting. You can also felt items if you switch from hot to cold or vice versa, so if you do need to rinse your item, make sure you use water the same temperature.

lace blocking-6Then I lay out a large bath towel, lay down the gently squeezed shawl, fold it in half lengthwise,and roll it up.

lace blocking-7I stand on it and move my feet across it a couple of times to squeeze out as much of the water as I can. If you are wet blocking a sweater, you might need more than one towel.

lace blocking-9In this case, I used some blocking wires from Knit Picks. I only used the wires on the long straight edge of the shawl, and I picked up the edge loop along the garter stitch. A little over halfway through I transitioned to a second wire to have enough length to stretch the shawl across it as long as I wanted it to be. lace blocking-10In this final picture, you can see my pins. I use straight T-pins. I took this picture, then looked again and straightened the spine of the shawl after I put my camera away. In this shot the center line is leaning a little to the right.

At the top, I first pinned right under the blocking wire, then I started at the bottom center and pulled the pieces out as far as it seemed like the shawl should go (I could have re-read the pattern for schematics, but I was too in the moment). Then I worked outward, trying to make the left and right symmetrical as I went. It probably took about an hour total, but that’s counting the soaking time for the shawl. Positioning and pinning took me about 20-30 minutes.

I really loved making this shawl. It became predictable, but of course it was something I had to have some evening focus time to put on this. I didn’t cart it to work, and I thought about pulling it out last Thursday at knit night, but lace and wine don’t always mix, so I left it alone. I’m very happy with the result, and Jenni was joyful when she received it, so I consider it a great success.

Today is the first day back to school on campus. There is a flurry of movement and energy that wasn’t present mere days ago. It’s overwhelming, but also makes for some great people watching. Since school is in session, it’s also the last day for my sale! Use BACK2SCHOOL to get a 50% discount on  TuxedoPrufrockBetwixtWendingRuffaluffagusThe Unexpected Hat, and my newest, Firefly Seeker for till midnight (Central Time) today.

Hope everyone is having a lovely Monday!

Edited to add: Blocking board is from WEBS, the larger size.

12 thoughts on “How I block lace

  1. I don’t know why I never thought to run the blocking wire along the garter stitch loops on the top of the shawl – doh! I shall use this technique next time. The shawl looks beautiful, I’m not surprised the recipient loved it.

  2. I don’t knit, but I have crocheted and tatted some. I’ve never done much blocking, if any, and I never knew what a difference it made until I saw your pictures. From start to finish it is amazing. I’ll definitely have to remember to block in the future. Beautiful shawl, by the way.

  3. I just put this in my queue the other night on Ravelry for my own wedding. It’s either this or the Swallowtail shawl. Can’t decide. Thanks for the tutorial, I’ve never gotten far enough with a lace project to block it (yeeps!) and this made me realize I really will need to get blocking wires.

  4. It really is amazing, the difference a good blocking does. My latest shawl was so large I had to use plastic bags and towels on the carpet .. thank goodness it wasn’t a lace shawl.
    Thanks for popping over and admiring mine, yours is gorgeous too!

  5. Pingback: Blocking – Does it Really Make a Difference? | thegrangerange

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