Shawl Blocking 101

I finished the Juneberry Triangle by Jared Flood.  

It was a fun project that I really enjoyed knitting.
     Needles: US 5
     Yarn:  Louis Harding Aimee - 90% cotton, 10% cashmere

Now comes the final step - and a very important one - blocking it to show it's true beauty. 

If you have knit the item with the yarn and needles specified in the pattern, use the final measurements given in the pattern for a blocking guideline. 

For my shawl, I changed yarn and needles, so I will block it without following measurements.

Ready?? Lets get started...
First I start with warm water and Soak.  I love this product - it is mild, smells nice, and really seems to relax the fibers.  I let the shawl soak in the sink for about 20 minutes.

No rinsing is required with Soak, so let the water out and lightly squeeze the shawl to remove water. 
Do not twist it or wring it out like a dish rag! 
Spread it out over a dry towel, and fold it up into the towel.
Squeeze the towel to remove all of the excess water. 
This way you dry it out without hurting the wet fibers.

Assemble your blocking tools and you are ready to start. 

I use kids play squares for blocking, although I also have the blocking squares from Knit Picks.  I'm not using the Knit Picks blocking squares because I only bought one set, and it doesn't cover enough area for a normal size shawl.  It is much cheaper to buy these inexpensive kids floor squares from Sam's Club.  

Before I had the squares, I laid a sheet down on the carpet and just pinned it to the floor.  (Can't say that TanMan appreciated that much).

I use T-pins to shape the garment.

As part of my need for all things knitting - I have blocking wires too.  You don't need these, but it does make the process go a bit faster.  I think I bought these from Knit Picks.  They come with some t-pins (but not nearly enough) and a yardstick.  They are flexible and won't rust.

Okay, let's get started.   I am going to use the blocking wire for the top of the shawl. 

You thread the wire along the edge you want blocked.  Work the wire in and out of the edge.  If the edge is longer than the wire, and then you use a second wire and overlap the two to secure the top border.

Spread out the shawl along the wire and begin to secure it with the t-pins every 4 inches or so.  Leave enough room on the blocking board above the top of the shawl, in case you want to stretch the entire thing from the top, by moving the wire another inch or so, when you fine tune the blocking.

Okay, take a deep breath.  This is a great foundation for the rest of the blocking.

Now you will begin to pull the shawl out at the bottom and along each side.  Place a few pins at the bottom and sides, to see how far out it will stretch.  

Remember, this is lace and it needs to be carefully pulled out, to show the detail of the lace.  All of those yarn overs need to expand and show their openwork!

If you go back and look at the pattern, you will see that the side edges come to points.  You can block these points with a pin at each point (yes, this takes time...but remember ... it took hours and hours to knit the shawl..  the final step deserves your patience too!)

Or you can thread a wire through each point and work it that way. 

I will work one side each way. - this side is pinned at each point.
Can you see how it makes the bobbles pop up and opens up the lace?

To use the wire, you must carefully run the wire through each point.
Spread out the edge along the wire and gently spread it out.  Pin the wire in a few places, and work with the wire and the shawl to block this final edge to it full width.

Now take a look at the entire shawl.  Are your edges straight and even?  Is the center line straight?  Are your points evenly blocked.  Run your hand over the body of the shawl.  Is it taught? 

If it is still loose, then you need to stretch it even more, by moving out your pins and wires further. 
Then you have the final product - here is Juneberry Triangle fully blocked. 

Here are few closer looks at the detail of the shawl.  Jared Flood designed this using small charts for each area, which makes it easy to follow.

The beginning body of the shawl

The next part of the body - waving lace with trios of bobbles. 

The lacy edging...

The end edge with more bobbles and the points

Okay, step away from the shawl and let it dry.  I keep it away from the sun and let it set for a few days.

When dry, unpin, wrap it around your shoulders and ENJOY