Really, every time

This morning someone called the house while I was beginning the process of making up the Willow sweater, and described what I was doing, and the person on the other end of the line went completely quiet.  Usually this is a sign that I am doing something most other people don’t do. I mean, I get the same response anytime I say something like "cleaning a drum carder" or "organizing my laceweights" – I’m used to it and it doesn’t flip me out anymore.  I just don’t tell ordinary people what I’m doing with fibre a lot.  I save it for my knitting friends.  Now, the interesting thing is that the person that I was talking to this morning was one of my knitting friends, and she still thought I was acting freaky.  She even went so far as to say things like "really?" and "every time?"  I didn’t have time to explain to her then why I do what I do, and why I think it’s important, so if nobody minds I’m going to take a minute and to it now.

When I finish a sweater, before I sew anything up, I wash and properly wet block all the pieces.  I know, I know.  This is the part where everyone tells me that they don’t do it. That they sew everything up and then block, or they tell me they don’t block, or I find out that we define block differently, or they tell me they only steam block and never wet block (which is usually a lie) or… well.  A whole bunch of stuff. Here’s what I do – this is what I mean.

First, all the pieces are done and they all go for a swim in cool water with Eucalan or Soak.  (I like both.)

They go for swim before I sew up for lots of good reasons.  For starters, now is a great time to find out that I was really, really wrong about the swatch. I would rather know right this minute that the sweater is much bigger after a wash – than  find out after I’ve sewn the whole thing up and gone to all the trouble of doing button bands or edges or all that crap. If I find out things are really wrong now,  it’s way less work to pull it back and redo the wrong parts now- rather than unpicking every seam first.  (I know myself, and I know some of you. There are those of us who will simply never correct the mistakes if it’s too hard.  We’ll jam it in the back of the linen closet or something.  Things need to be easy-ish or I won’t do them. Knitting has to be fun.)

Also, I believe firmly and violently in wet-blocking- and I know some of you will disagree, but hear me out.  For starters, if you are ever going to wash the item that you’ve made, then you might as well know now what water is going to do to it – because the day you’re wet blocking (whether you want to or not) is coming, and that’s the day that you wash it. (That’s why I don’t believe people who tell me that they don’t wet-block.  If you ever wash it, then you’re wet-blocking.) In addition, I think we have a some confusion over the term "blocking".  Blocking in knitting means the same as it does in the theatre, which is to say that it’s the determination of the  proper positioning of the players. Blocking is sort of- putting things in their right places, and that’s all it is in knitting.  This means that blocking does not (and I really, really can’t stress this enough)  blocking DOES NOT mean stretching, and proper blocking can make things way, way easier to make up.

After the bath, the pieces come out, I lay them on  towel(s) then roll up the towels and walk on them to get most of the water out.  (You’d be surprised how well this works.)  Then more dry towels go on my bed (which is where I usually block, that’s not important) and I start laying the pieces out. To do this right, I get some pins, a measuring tape and the schematics or instructions from the pattern.

Now blocking, in terms of a sweater, means putting things in the right place. So I start doing just that.  I lay out the back, and then I look at the measurement for the length and width of the sweater, and I measure my sweater back and smoosh, guide or pat the thing until it’s the right measurements. If it isn’t working out – like it’s way longer, shorter, narrower or wider than I planned, I know right then and there that it’s not going to work out. I can let it dry and rip it back.  If it’s right, I keep going.  I make the armhole the right depth, the neck the right width, and as I go along I pin it to those measurements – and as I do that, I unfold, uncurl and pat down the edges of the sweater to make it just so. 

Then I line up the fronts next to the back and do the same thing, making sure I match the armholes, fronts, total length and so forth.

When I’m done I move on to the sleeves, matching width, length.. .everything, again paying close attention to edges. 
If there are pockets or fiddly bits, then I fuss to make them the right size and shape, and then pin them in place too.

The whole thing is designed to make making up easier.  If I get the edges flat now, they’re way easier to sew, and my seams look fantastic.   If the sweater has relaxed into it’s final shape, then I’m going to be more accurate when I pick up stitches for the button band.  In my experience, if I sew stuff up first and then block it, I might have some nasty surprises.  Like the front and back sag but the side seams don’t. That never happens if you sew it up after it sags. Or maybe the neck relaxes and is way too loose and you hate it. Better to know that before you go to do a neckband, right? Then you can compensate for it and get a better final product.  Maybe you find out while you’re laying and pinning that for reasons known only to the universe and its system of checks and balances, that the sleeves are 8cm  too long.  Wet blocking and measuring before you sew it in and up means you make those changes now, before you sew it in and find out it’s not wearable.  See where I’m going with this?   I’m sure you do.  Wet blocking ahead means that there are no surprises when you wash it later, and you – you are going to wash your knitting at some point, right? You’re not just knitting it, wearing it until it’s dirty and then throwing it away?  

The friend on the phone this morning said "Man.  What a huge pain in the ass.  I never bother to do that" and I’ll tell you what I told her. 

You already spend hours and hours knitting it? Why not spend a little more time making sure it’s nice?  Blocking the pieces saves time in the sewing, saves time with picking up stitches for bands and necks and ensures I get no surprises that enrage me. It’s a crappy sweater prevention program, and yup. I do it every time.


428 thoughts on “Really, every time

  1. You are a much better person than I am! I do your kind of wet blocking when I feel I need to but on a, oh say, that baby sweater pattern that I’ve made dozens of times out of the same yarn (why mess with perfection), I’ll sew up before I wet block. Is it wrong of me to point out the beauty of seamless sweaters here?

  2. Yes, I do too! I love the way the stitches plump up and look better after a swim.

  3. im still a fairly new knitter… this makes me believe in the benefits of blocking!

  4. Based on your sound reasoning, if I ever get brave enough to make a sweater I will!

  5. Yep — I do it every time too — I agree, it helps to prevent crappy sweaters. It’s also a useful way to procrastinate and delay the sewing up process. For me, thinking about sewing a sweater up is always much worse thank actually doing it!

  6. I feel like a rank amateur now! Occasionally I iron the pieces first and that’s it! But after reading this I am a changed woman.

  7. We are glad you are better; we are delighted to see your newest green sweater. We would still like to know where the pattern for that fetching baby bonnet came from or if it is something that you whipped up yourself?

  8. Thanks for the lesson on wet blocking, I will definately take the time to do it for my next sweater. It just makes sense!

  9. One suggestion. ( I prefer to sleep in my bed. Plus you’d have to make the bed before blocking.) I use super-cheap 2’x 4′ ceiling tiles, about 1/2″ thick. Pin a towel or felt over that, then pin gingham fabric over that. Fabric has built in grid for lining things up nicely. Stores in a closet or under the bed. I also have a bunch of wee ones for mittens, socks, accessories.
    Your pieces look like joy to sew.

  10. Totally agree with you. I have only knit a couple sweaters/things that needed seaming…but I do it just like that. It’s well worth the extra effort! My first swaeter ( a Harry Potter Weasley) was done this way and fit PERFECT when I first tried it on (I was so proud of that first effort)…good thing, or I may have given up knitting on the spot!

  11. Well, sometimes……it depends on the project. Generally, the more time I spent knitting it, the more care I take when blocking, so I wholeheartedly agree with your reasons. Thank you for illustrating your methods, too, I see improvement in my wet-blocking tactics after reading your post. Very helpful! Thanks!

  12. I’m a block-before-seaming kinda girl as well!
    Glad you’re feeling better!

  13. Having just ripped back an entire sweater that grew exponentially after I blocked it, pulling out all the seams, unravelling the whole damn thing, soaking the yarn to relax it, and rewinding a million yards of merino I’ve now come to resent…why, YES, I see your point.

  14. I’ve only made a few sweaters that I have to sew together because I HATE sewing seams, but everytime I do it, I do it this way. Wet-block, measure and then sew. It is easier in the end and this is how I learn, everytime, that i did my sleeve caps wrong.

  15. I never use to wet block only a wet towel and iron blocking but now that I knit lots of cabels I wouldn’t do it any other way. I use an wool carpet with lines to wet block on, Works great as a grid.

  16. The only thing I will add to your wet blocking discussion is to say that if my front and back are identical, I first lay out my back, do the measurements etc then I lay the front on top of the back since the measurements are the same. I then get two pieces the same size and shape with less time and it takes up less space. This also works for two sleeves, two fronts or any other two pieces that are the same.

  17. I’m really glad that you wrote this post. I’ve been thinking that I’d probably have been a lot happier with my last pullover if I’d properly blocked the pieces. The stupid stocking stitch kept curling on me and it was a huge pain to sew up. Also, I wouldn’t have been quite so surprised to discover that it was somehow a couple cm shorter than I thought….

  18. I haven’t knit a sweater yet, but I swear that this is what I will do. Probably. Although I am going to pick something knit from the top down, and as seamlessly as possible. I quite like wet blocking my swatches, though; it makes me feel very virtuous!
    Looking forwards to seeing the finished object, I like that shade of green – very spring-like.

  19. Now I know why you’re a knitting goddess. I’m going to try very,very hard not to be lazy and follow your example – because I’m sure you are right……and now I know what to do…..but doesn’t your bed get damp?
    Lol Helen

  20. I’m with you, I always wet block unless the yarn can’t be washed (which is my house translates to “really? whatever were you thinking??”). If the yarn has to be dry cleaned, I take it to the dry cleaners & have them clean it. My dry cleaner looks at me blankly & nods & says, “sure, ok, whatever.” I learned a long time ago when I was doing a lot lot lot of sewing. It’s really ugly to do some amazingly complicated garment, toss it in the washer & have it bias so badly that it doesn’t resemble the garment you thought you were making when all that nice sizing held the garment shape. I can think of two times I did that, after that I learned. Dry clean, washer, hand wash, whatever the cleaning method, do it before you put the last of the work into it. Better to know now than later.

  21. That bathtub shot just makes me shudder, though. I was glad to read no plungers were involved.

  22. Well, you converted me. I’m going to block beforehand. It makes total sense now. Thanks for the info!

  23. I do. It is so darned much easier to sew up. And sewing up isn’t my favorite activity – so anything to make it easier is gold.

  24. I totally wet block my sweater pieces. In fact, I have to reblock the sleeves of my current project to see if I can get it to fit the armhole a little better. No way on earth would I ever sew up a sweater without blocking the pieces first! (and I love the stomping on the towel trick!)

  25. I do it every time-just blocked a cotton/Tencel cardigan pattern and it is draping like a dream and the edges aren’t curling up like before the blocking. I thought everyone did this!!!

  26. I use a piece of foam board (like they use on the side of a house, you get it at a home improvement store) laid across a bed. Then I can use my quilter’s pins and pin right into the board AND I don’t have to wait for the sweater pieces to dry to sleep at night! 8 )

  27. Well, I’ve only done that once or twice. I don’t make too many sweaters – but when I have blocked them, it is usually easier to put together. I haven’t run into any of the problems you’ve mentioned, though (sagging, uneven, etc.) so perhaps I’ve just been lucky!

  28. I totally wash and block my pieces before I set out to sew them together!
    I don’t usually do the vigorous measuring, as I like to knit like pieces at the same time on my circs. Sleeves are knit at the same time, and so are my fronts and back. So there’s usually not an issue because I’m measuring both pieces as I knit them together!
    BTW – that green is great!

  29. I wet block the same way only I use the guest room bed not my own. I found out how long cotton pieces take to dry and don’t use my own bed anymore. In the guest room I can pin everything out, turn the ceiling fan on low and close the door.

  30. I wet-blocked my last sweater, which was all pieces and sewn together. I think that might have been more fun if my bathtub looked like yours.
    Here’s a question, though: what about a sweater knit all in one piece? Do you wet-block the sleeves and body before joining for the yoke?

  31. Oh I so want to say “me too me too” Instead I’ll tell the truth and say I wet block after I’ve seamed. I’ve donated a couple of items, it’s true … but If I Am Telling The Truth .. then
    Honestly … I’d never really thought about soaking it before I seamed .. doh! Seems a no brainer now you have mentioned it.
    Off to give myself severe talking to – I’m the one in the corner on my own violently arguing.

  32. I wet block everything, too, particularly sweaters before seaming them. I have also found that a large sheet of corroplast (stuff used for making election signs) makes a wonderful blocking board. I ruthlessly pin the item to the board with T-pins and then can transport it wherever I want to place it to dry. On nice days, I often carry the corroplasted sweater bits out into the garden and lay it all flat in the sun (weighed down with rocks, of course).
    When not in use, the corroplast lies flat against the wall behind the china cabinet.
    It’s also wonderful for use when dyeing fabric or spreading fleece out on to dry (I put the whole works in the greenhouse in winter).

  33. I completely agree with blocking rigorously before sewing up. I’ve learned that one the hard way. Also I have learned to leave working in the ends to the end for the same reason.
    But I prefer steam to wet blocking. I have yet to encounter something that gives a different result with a bath compared to using steam and frankly I don’t have the attention span for it. Projects that I steam blocked initially and then wet blocked when finished, expecting some sort of magical transformation ended up exactly the same with the addition of soggy wet towels and that funtastic wet sheep smell in my apartment for days.
    Anyone who’s blocked something properly should instantly understand how wonderful and necessary it is to show knits at their best.

  34. Great piece on blocking! I recently re-committed to blocking my work, and am much happier for it. Can you elaborate why you prefer wet to steam blocking? I personally find it much easier to wet block sweaters knit in the round (which my last two projects have been), but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  35. Absolutely – every time (and I’m glad to know I’m not the only person who stomps on towels). I get the same response as you – “takes too much time”. But then I also heard this – my knitter friend said to me once “I have Finishing Envy when I look at your stuff.” Yes, I’m a picky knitter – but it is worth it.

  36. Well, I wet block like I gauge swatch… sometimes spottily, sometimes not at all (if I know the yarn well), but always if the yarn is new to me or if there are suspect components, like silk, which always stretches.
    But if you lay the pieces out on your bed, where do you sleep until it’s dry?

  37. You make it look so easy! Makes me want to go home and cast on a sweater immediately! I’d like to know how long it took you to make wet-blocking BEFORE sewing-up the rule. You seem to know ALL the different screw-ups it prevents. Wherever did you come to all that knowledge? 😉
    I hope this means we get to see it on you tomorrow!

  38. You’re right. Swatches can lie. Even washed swatches….so my toddler’s hoodie, which grew 3 whole sizes in the tub, is nicely assembled and waiting for him to grow into it!!! (Good quality acrylic, too.)

  39. I’ll admit to being more of a 75 percenter, but when I cheat its almost always on a baby sweater or something similarly small.

  40. Stephanie, I always wet block before I do the finishing work as well. After I toss the pieces into the tub for a swim, I spin them in the washer (NOT AGITATE, just spin) then pin them in place. I always pin the two front sides of a cardigan one on top of the other, mirror-image so they match; same treatment for the sleeves. Saves time and they end up being exactly the same length + width. I fold shawls, stoles and scarves in half before putting them on blocking wires. Makes sure those pesky ends are the same width / size. It’s so worth it and saves time in the end! As usual, you’re spot-on again.

  41. I tried wet blocking a few years ago for the first time, and swore that I would never do it again because the poncho grew to the size made by Omar the Tentmaker! In the past year a friend convinced me to try wet blocking again because the results were so much nicer. She was right, and I have wet blocked everything since, and have been very satisfied – I get the point – it looks so much nicer. I definitely agree with wet blocking before sewing the item up, although I have only done it on small pieces. When I finally get around to making something for myself, wet blocking the pieces might leave me scratching my head as to what to do if they grow or shrink. I do have a question – what recommendations do you have when wet blocking sweaters that are knitted in the round – you can’t block them piece by piece then?

  42. I finished my very first baby hoodie in early spring but the sleeve seams are not sewn yet. I always knew I should wet block before I sew the seams closed, but now I really KNOW!

  43. Right there with ya! Except that I use interlocking foam floor tiles from the hardware store. Everything else, though? Yep, all the way…towel walking and all!

  44. This is why I prefer to knit things all in one piece. I’m too lazy and have too short an attention span to actually knit all the pieces, block them, and then put them together.
    The ADD Knitter – right here…

  45. I do it too. I even line up the armholes like you do. No point scrimping on something that, in the grand scheme of knitting a sweater, doesn’t really take that much time and has such a huge payoff.

  46. I block same way you do. Except I use the living room carpet not my bed, because most yarns (except laceweight) take more than a day to dry. I wet block because want to see what my sweater will be like after washing.
    Also, I resist the industry’s desire to sell us more and more stuff. I don’t need an expensive blocking board or a steamer. Water, Eucalan, measuring tape, pins, and towels are all I need.

  47. Love the blocking knit & theatre reference – nice to know someone out there understands both things when I talk about them
    I always do it – well ok maybe not for hats…

  48. Wet blocking = YES. For everything except things like socks.
    Yes, it is a bit of extra effort when you really REALLY want to just be finished, but it makes for a way nicer-looking FO, makes seaming a lot neater and easier, and yes, it is easier to spot the devious work of the knitting deities.

  49. Yep – that’s what I do and it’s what I tell my students to do. The results are inevitably fantastic or repairable – either outcome is better than not knowing in advance and having to redo or throw in a corner!

  50. hmm. thus far, i’ve only done a top down sweater and a yoke sweater. soon, i will be doing a sweater that must be seemed and rather than learn this lesson on my own, i’ll take your advice now.
    thanks steph!

  51. I absolutely wet block every sweater — that’s just how it’s done! I completely agree with you, too, about it just being another hour or so of work after all that knitting — an hour or so which makes the whole thing look miles better in the end. It evens out all the stitches and gives the fabric a better drape (and shape!)
    Admittedly, though, I’ve been called crazy for other knitterly things — at least all us wet-blockers have each other!

  52. I definitely wet block, but as I rarely finish a sweater that has sewing up (except for the 10 stitch underarm seams) I don’t worry about patting everything super carefully in place. The last time I finished a sweater that had seams, I honestly cannot remember if I blocked before or after. It is definitely a sweater that could have benefited from a bit more care in the blocking and seaming, but it still makes a great gad about the house when I’m cold (which is all the time) sweater.

  53. You forgot something Stephanie – you finished knitting the second sleeve!
    I am with you on this, I will try it in the future as it sounds pretty good (and may curtail the sewing problems I have had in the past).
    Experience is a hard taskmaster.

  54. This is a great blog post.
    I have a sweater that’s been waiting to be sewn up and I believe it’s going for a swim…

  55. Thank you so much for taking the time to illustrate this. I wouldn’t say I’m a newbie knitter anymore…but if I’d known to do this on my last sweater, I wouldn’t have had to throw it out (the yarn wasn’t going to take to ripping–I learned a lot on that sweater). Lesson learned. Block before seaming. Moving forward. Thank you.
    (That green looks gorgeous.)

  56. Yes – every time. All except for the bed thing. I use a corner of the living room carpet with a beach towel over it.

  57. I do it to and a lot of my reasoning is that I find it much easier to sew the parts together after they’ve been properly blocked!

  58. I am so happy to hear this. I get crap all the time from my knitting group. Cause I believe in wet blocking. I am printing this out to show them!

  59. Of course I do. Doesn’t everyone do this ? I read many moons ago that each piece had to be blocked according to measurement. If I am too lazy or tired to do it, I save it for another day. If I were to sew my project together then block it, heavens knows what it would look like !

  60. I feel like a failure…I never get to the wet blocking part because my pieces always look totally askew before I even get that far. What the heck? I agree…seamless is the way to go for me.

  61. Wet, washed, knitted garments, wrapped in towels and trodden on? I thought that was just me … it works, doesn’t it? Well enough that the bed doesn’t get damp, too!

  62. how enlightening!!! for years i just ignored that “blocking” instruction being completely unsure what it meant/was. then i thought i was “all that” when i started blocking and my pieces came out so much nicer. NOW i understand how you and your ilk get such a professionally finished item! you have made a convert of me and the very next wearable item i make (as in not toys etc) i will be trying your technique!

  63. Wet block every time. The sewing is so much easier with a nice flat piece of knitting than with something that’s most likely been living wadded up in the bottom of a bag for months.

  64. Yay!! I do not know how to block. I know..get it wet and shape it but your explanation is perfect. As soon as I get home tonight I will finally blog my sweater!

  65. I always absolutely wet-block everything before I sew it together. (well, not socks–they just immediately go onto the feet!)

  66. If you have never done it this way, do so, it makes your work look better than you know, it will make it look like a professional did it

  67. I always wet block to measurements before seaming pieces. That’s what the instructions say to do, right? :o)

  68. I intend to wet block the entire time I’m knitting but then I get too excited to put the thing together (usually) to do it. That’s probably why I like to knit seamless sweaters.
    My question to you: do you wash and block your swatch before you cast on your project?

  69. I don’t always do it but I know that it’s always a good thing to do. You’re right that it makes it much, much easier to sew up and get things aligned.

  70. You’ve made me see the light. I will wet block my sweater before I sew it together. Maybe that’s why I struggle with the sewing part!!!! LOOOOOVVVVVEEEE the tub. I don’t think I would ever get out of that.

  71. I do my best to knit all my sweaters seamless and top down, so I can try it on as I go and no need to make it up when I am done knitting. But…I always wet block the finished project, just to make sure my swatch lied.

  72. I’ve actually always been a dedicated “wet blocker” for your very point. I went to the trouble to knit it right- now I want it to look finished.
    Besides the perfectionist in me really likes how much blocking tends to even out my stitches and make everything sew up nice.
    (Although I tend to pin out first and THEN wet it down. Maybe I’m doing it in the wrong order?)

  73. Since I dry clean most of my sweaters both purchased and hand-knit, I usually take my pieces to the cleaners before seaming. That, too, makes sewing easier.
    I can remember wet blocking a baby sweater in the manner you describe but don’t think I’m likely to be knitting baby garments anytime in the near future.

  74. I’ll always wet block. I don’t think I’m as particular as you are with the tape measure though – I mostly eyeball it.
    I remember being kind of surprised when I first heard there were other options than wet blocking – spraying and ironing and such. It sounded kind of dirty or like cheating or something. Then I heard that people actually get someone at the LYS to sew their stuff together and finish it. Seemed like more of the same. When you’ve been doing something one way since you were 10, it’s hard to change. But you know – to each his own – whatever works is fine with me.

  75. No wet-blocking before sewing here. For some reason it takes about 2 days to dry, and I just can’t wait that long.

  76. I do what you do – for the exact same reasons.
    BTW I have a personal rule that if a blog has received more than 20 comments, I don’t – clearly I have another rule for yours – its 100…who’d have thought I’d be measly #90!?!

  77. Absolutely I do. It just makes the finished product so much nicer!
    (And I totally learned to do it from you back in the day. So thanks for mentioning that you do it, however long ago that was.)

  78. Oh, I do that every time. I didn’t know it was a lot of work until just now it just seemed right.
    What I learned the hard way was to never take scissors near knitting. Say, when you seam a sleeve up inside out (on Christmas Day, say) and need to get it off fast (to wear to Christmas Dinner, say). I’d done it before and it worked really well! It went bad fast.
    It was a v. sad Christmas.

  79. I second the request for a detailed post on how you treat a knit-in-the-round sweater. I hadn’t blocked anything before, but sent the fish hats I knitted the “kids” for Christmas last year for a swim and was totally gobsmacked at how much nicer they were once I’d pinned them into shape. I’m a convert. (I still don’t like the wet sheep smell.)

  80. I DO block, which is why I haven’t made a sweater yet. I don’t have the patience to do all of that!
    (But I do believe strongly in the importance of blocking.)

  81. The teacher in my Fair Isle class said she doesn’t wet block because that stretches out the sweater. Um…yeah.

  82. Me. I live dangerously. I don’t do it every time. Heck, I have a whole box of stuff that needs to be blocked and seamed. I need the family (and the dog) to be gone for a week, while I get to that box, and use every spare inch of carpet space in the house, ( I think I am beyond 3 twin beds, 1 full and 1 king at this point)to block the projects.
    And then no one had better say anything about the bath towels smelling like wet wool. It was clean wool, clean towels…reuse…go green. 😉

  83. Every time. Sometimes it is good news–sometimes not. But I agree, i am more likely to fix it if I have not sewed it up.
    Also I find blocking exciting–but I like swatching and washing/blocking my swatch so maybe I am just odd.

  84. I think if I didn’t wet block, my grandma would come down from heaven, knock me on the head, and say “that’s not how I taught you to knit!”
    I ALWAYS wet block.

  85. I am so bookmarking this post so when I knit my first sweater, I have somebody in the bleachers coaching me on SOMETHING I’m doing. Considering that, despite there being several knitting groups and 2 guilds in my area (that I know of), I have no human resources to turn to for things in my area. I do it all by trial and error.
    If I weren’t such an antisocial CAT, I’d listen to everyone’s advice and join a group. But well. I’m a cat. I get “petted” when I want to, not when everyone else scheduled it. 🙂

  86. I have always done exactly what you & never realized it was strange. My main reason being, as you said, that it makes it so much easier to assemble the garment. I never realized it was strangeuntil a few years ago when someone posted a question about how the members block & many thought my method was strange. I usually give it a light steam block after assembly also. I will admit that I don’t always block. I don’t see the point of blocking socks (I suppose if you are giving them as a gift – especially lacy ones) & with acrylic (which I use for afghans & some children’s things if I know the parents won’t hand was) I assemble & throw in the washer & dryer which is more or less the same as blocking them altho I admit that I started doing this when I was still a smoker & I didn’t want to give anyone a smoky smelling present. I recently bought a bolt of flannel backed vinyl fabric that is green gingham checks. It’s 60″ wide. My thought is that I can use it to block pieces with the checks used to size the pieces. Any reason why this isn’t a good idea?

  87. I’m just getting ready to block my first seamed sweater and I had a vague idea of what to do but these step by step instructions are very helpful! Thanks!

  88. I always wet block my sweater pieces. It makes sewing them up 1,000% easier. I’ve also had the same problems where the pieces just don’t end up the right size. Does this mean that for all intents and purposes our sweater pieces are our (very large) guage swatches?

  89. I admit I sew and then I gently steam with a damp cloth.
    It’s the way I was taught by my Mother, I’d never heard of wet blocking until a few years ago.
    I’ve always had good results. I guess doing it that way for nigh on 30 years then I’ll carry on doing it the way I do.
    Hope the jumper turns out well.

  90. I’m with you, babe. Also, I love that color more every time I see it. Also, I love that bathtub. I might almost be able to go without showers if I had a tub like that.
    Here’s the thing though….I do seem to recall that on a couple of occasions, you told us that even with all these measures, some of the sweaters were beyond correcting and they went to go live on a nice farm in Connecticut. Or maybe with one of the Rachels?
    Nevermind, forget I said anything. You should just ignore me, really.

  91. I totally agree on all points Steph (although I have been known to steamblock on occasion when said item is bulky/superbulky and would take *forever* to dry).

  92. I do it every single time. I do not, however, walk on the towel…and I use the bed in the guest room (or the blocking room as I call it)!

  93. Wow, I’m surprised that people don’t wet-block before sewing! I thought that was a must-do. It is a pain, but I do it too. Now I just have to figure out how to block the hood and bands on the Central Park Hoodie I just finished. I don’t want to have to wet the whole thing again.
    This is also a good reason to wash a gauge swatch before you start the sweater. It can change things tremendously.

  94. Oh my yes. I do that every time. I may cheat on gauge swatches, but never on blocking the pieces. There was one blocking fail when my daughter took to my drying sweater pieces with a marker, but I got lucky; it was washable ink and the yarn was mostly bamboo and couldn’t felt!
    Can’t wait to see that green cardigan finished, btw. After seeing that I’m about ready to go buy that book…

  95. I wash everything when I’m done with it. I mostly work in the round, so I do my finishing first and then wash, but even when I work in pieces, I sew up and finish first, then wash.
    The proof of the knitter’s skill is not the first time she puts on her finished sweater and it fits and looks great. The proof comes after the second washing. If the bands don’t ruffle or droop, the sleeves still sit just so in the armholes and the buttons remain firmly on, that’s a well knit, well finished sweater.
    If you wash, then sew up, do bands and so on, you’re working unwashed wool onto washed, and that’s just asking for it. I learned that the hard way.

  96. I’m curious: why the “no stretch” rule when blocking? I ask because of my own knitting process: I knit a swatch until I get gauge. Once I have gauge I go down at least one needle size and knit my project (sweaters especially) on the smaller needles. When I finish my gauge is obviously off. However, I wet block my pieces and stretch them (sometimes vigorously) into size and shape. I’ve found my knits retain their shape far better this way – there is less stretch left in the fabric. This works well for me. So I’m really curious to know why you would advise against this.

  97. I’ve always wet blocked after sewing, and though I’ve contemplated doing it the way you just explained, I’ve never seriously considered it…..until now. I’m totally switching methods, you just make so much sense and if there’s one thing I love, it’s logic.
    Then again, you wouldn’t gave to say much to convince me, since you’re pretty much a knitting goddess in my mind. I’ve learned SO much from you (For example: you turned me into a sock knitter and though I’ve tried many variations I always come back to your basic sock recipe and much prefer a top down, heel flap knit on DPNs sock to all other methods), so thanks for yet another wonderful tip!

  98. yup, each and every time, for all the reasons you gave. take time to save time, penny-wise vs. pound-foolish, etc., etc.

  99. I kind of knew that blocking was the right thing to do before sewing up a piece, just like I know that I should eat healthier and get more exercise… but this post was the kick I needed to make me actually do it! I’ve gone through the whole knit-for-hours-then-rush-to-sew-it-up-then-find-it-doesn’t-actually-fit-right process. More than once. I’m going to print this post out and keep it with my knitting to remind me…Thanks!

  100. Yes! yes, yes. I wet block before sewing, and am even weirder, in that I actually
    LIKE the making up. It’s like creating a person, is how I look at it (at least with sweaters, which is all I knit for the first 8 or so years of knitting). But then, I was a happy stitcher for years before
    learning to knit.
    Loved your hints about making it all match, though. I’d not gone that far.
    glad to hear you’re better!xxx

  101. Yes, the same way, but it lays on the floor while drying, and gets admired while stepping over it!

  102. Me too! My Gram always steamed blocked the pieces and then sewed up. When I started knitting I thought it would be better for the knitted garmet to be clean. I often drag my knitting around wtih me. Once and I mean once, I steamed some dirt right into a FO. Wet blocked ever after.

  103. Well, yeah. Everything you say makes perfect sense (even if I don’t knit garments very often). I was converted to giving the finished piece of knit fabric a good wash when I did some of those two-row stripe-y Noro silk garden scarves last winter (or the winter before??) and the yarn totally bloomed when I washed it. It is amazing how some yarns can completely change once they’ve had a good soak.

  104. Yes, I wet block too. It lets me know what I have to work with, to justify the measurements, and flatten the edges. Thanks for the details, though.

  105. I have just got back into knitting primarily because of blogs like yours (one of my daily resources). I haven’t knit a sweater yet and had only been aware of blocking after a garment is sewn together. I will so use this method – it just makes sense. Any pointers on seaming? I have knit mostly baby sweaters and dresses in the past but I am hoping to knit myself something very soon. I remember not enjoying sewing even the small garments together but maybe I didn’t have a great technique. Any help would be appreciated.

  106. Reading this post now makes me believe in the power of blocking! Long story short I always wet block so I guess an even shoter answer is: yes I wet block.

  107. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when we whine about our knits not turning out, but moan about doing things properly. Le sigh.

  108. Thanks for the tutorial! Will try it the next time. Though, I try and modify all patterns now so that the fronts and back are knit in one piece, divided at armpits, and then I only have to worry about sewing sleeves. But wow about waiting until after the bath for necks and button bands too. Brilliant. I also liked Lorilee’s suggestion with the ceiling tiles.

  109. I almost always wet block. It’s taught me a lot about things like how much garter stitch can grow!

  110. Do you weave in all the ends before blocking, or just before sewing (once you know the pieces are perfect)?

  111. I have never made a sweater for myself (so far). Thank you for the tutorial. I have not wet blocked the sweaters I have made for my baby b/c I am lazy (honest answer) and they are knit in the round, so require only grafting 8 stitches.
    Is that yarn Art Fibers Ming?

  112. I am loving this tutorial on wet-blocking. I am looking forward to referencing this in the future when I need to block pieces… Us younger knitters sure appreciate your time and experience! Thanks much!

  113. OMG Today’s blog is very timely! I am working on Level 1 or the TKGA Master Knitting program and one of the assignments is to write about “blocking”. Lady, you are a source that I will use! You, and “The Basics of Blocking” from
    Thank you!
    FYI I having knitted off and on for about 60 years, have learned soooo much from Level 1.
    Am presently reading NO IDLE HANDS – a social history of knitting/handiwork. You might love that also.

  114. Wow – I always wet block before I finish. Here I thought that’s what everyone did!

  115. Very important and, yes while it isn’t fun, it’s essential. It would be like trying to sew garments and not pressing, ironing or steaming when needed. It just turns out ugly without the fiddling.

  116. Nope, I’ve never blocked before an item was finished. I block after. If the thing’s a disaster, I take it apart and redo it. If it’s passable, I wear it in the dark, and promptly lose it. Where’s that red/white/blue shawl I made for July Fourth?

  117. I take that back. Once, I accidentally dropped a sock (my first) in a bowl of water before it was finished. I had to let it, and the ball of yarn, dry before I could finish.
    At least I didn’t capsize a canoe.

  118. Yes. Absolutely. Without question.
    When I was in college, and starting knitting, my roommate knit a sweater. Sewed it first, then blocked it and could not get it to hang right. She ended up ripping out both side seams and (yes, we did this) wetblocked it from the armholes down. When the seams were redone it hung fine. But you could easily tell the difference between the upper and lower half. So the sweater went to the dry cleaner, and that fixed everything.
    Blocking before sewing was a lesson worth learning.

  119. Samething. Every. single. time. It makes doing the button bands easier. I love the smell of a freshly washed sweater, too, which is another reason why I do it.

  120. I do each piece as I go (though I’ll wait until both sleeves are done to do them at the same time), but as I review my knitting mentally, I realize that I strongly prefer one-piece sweaters (knit in the round, sleeves picked up). Still wet-block ’em though.
    Except that last bulky-weight top-down raglan. Put that on after I bound off and haven’t taken it off much since April.

  121. What excellent advice. Every time I block I have that sinking feeling that I’m doing it wrong – and what a surprise, my slapdash ‘that looks about right’ approach isn’t really blocking, now is it? I’m just about to pick up for a button band on a cardigan, and I hadn’t even thought of blocking it first. Thank you so much!

  122. When I worked in my LYS (now closed) I was dubbed the “Finishing Nazi” for this very reason-I wet blocked everything. And when my coworkers would ask for advice as to why their finished project didn’t turn out as planned and why mine always looked so good, my first question was always, “Did you block it?” When they answered in the negative I would look them straight in the eye and say, “There’s your answer.”
    They hated me for that but my sweaters always looked better!

  123. I’m with you. I do this on pieced sweaters as well. It makes everything so much easier!
    For blocking, I have a set of those puzzle-piece type of foam floor mats that I got at Costco. I put those together in a shape that will fit all the pieces, then put a towel on it, then spread out a piece of gingham fabric I spent something like $2 on at the fabric store. The checks are 1/4″ wide throughout the fabric, so when I lay out the pieces, I can use it as a guide. It helps me keep things straight and ensure that both front pieces and the back, as well as both sleeves, get blocked evenly. Works great!
    I’ve had people look at me funny about this stuff, too, but as you said, if you’ve spent that much time in the knitting, why not spend as much in the finishing?

  124. I definitely wet-block! I have discovered that giving things a whirl in the salad spinner before laying them out is way better than the wet-wool-burrito stomp. Fewer wet towels (Are they dirty? Are they clean?) to deal with, more of whatever washing agent spun out, and I’ve cut my drying time nearly in half! And I like to think that the residual lanolin gives our salads a certain, insouciant, je ne sais quoi.

  125. I totally do. Those seams look so much nicer and you can see what you’re seaming rather than unrolling bits of stockinette.
    Then I discovered seamless knitting patterns and try to go with that when I can. 🙂

  126. I wet block everything. Just about everything I make is seamless, but like you I usually block before I get to knitting on borders, inserting zippers, etc. I want to know how it all hangs before I get to the final finishing.

  127. Yup- as long as it isn’t seamless. I actually knit a decent size swatch for any adult size garments and wash it as if it was the finished garment. I make note of prewash size and finished wash size as well as exactly how many stitches and rows the swatch takes. That way if I need to make any adjustments to the pattern I can do it based on how the yarn will behave after it has been knit up and washed.
    Had a few too many spectacular disasters after the first wash.

  128. Yep, I do this too – it makes seaming a whole load easier, it makes it easier for me to see where to pick up stitches for necks etc. plus the final sewn garment looks much nicer too.

  129. This makes complete sense to me and I do generally do it. When I have time to knit at all, which hasn’t been much lately (and likely will continue to be nil if the weather continues in it’s 30C trend) I try to make sure I block everything. I even made myself a cardboard blocking board that fits the dimensions of my sewing table to do so. But this process reminds me of sewing – like with fabric and a sewing machine sewing. A good friend once gave me the tip to iron after every seam, and it really makes a huge difference to how the garment lays while you’re sewing up the other seams. It helps hems hang better and generally improves the look and the fit of the finished garment. It can be as much of a pain as blocking, but I think its well worth the effort. Its that whole ‘if you’re going to do something, do it right’ thing…

  130. The last two sweaters I made I did just the same thing. I can see I’m in some high-class company!

  131. Well, I was going to say that that’s what makes you a professional, then I scanned down the responses and saw so many ‘yes’ comments, that I’m now counting myself among the ‘sometimes always mostly’ serious blockers.
    Unless we’re talking lace, and I have a huge frame and wires and no-rust pins .No casual attitude with lace.

  132. I have to admit that I have never even thought of doing this, but it makes so much sense! Do you always wash by hand and never in the machine? I have a wool programme on my machine, which does a fantastic job and also it makes the finished item easier to dry!

  133. Ummm. wet blocking???? No I have neve done this. If there is sufficient time between finishing and wearing for the first time I may wash it – and I definitely wash if it is a gift. But pretty much I do what my Mum did. She never blocked anything – in fact it was not entirely unknown for her to finish the sewing up before jamming the jumper over the approriate child’s head before we went somewhere. So no time for blocking or washing anything. But Mum very rarely used a pattern either – like her cooking, she just knit til it looked right and measurements were done against the body the jumper was for and they always fit. Actually, I fib – I have wet-blocked shawls (but they don’t count!)

  134. I used to never… but now I almost always… makes it so much easier to sew, and I hate sewing.

  135. I’ve wet-blocked from day one. My knitting guru-teacher-lady pretty much made a point of emphasizing it. Despite my first project being an ugly gross acrylic thing, that didn’t much benefit from said blocking. Still, I got in the habit, and do it every time.

  136. Nope. Unless it’s wool, I don’t block at all. Well, that’s mostly true – I did block some linen sweaters I knit, and asked advice about how to do so. I typically do NOT wet block, but I don’t make many things that need to be blocked. I mostly try to knit in one piece, or in the round.
    I definitely block lace, but not wet block. I pin to desired measurements and then steam with an iron.
    However, I may just try it with a nearly finished summer sweater to see whether it makes a difference. Will submit photos.

  137. I just finished my first grown-up, seamed sweater, sewed it up, wet blocked it…and promptly learned my lesson. After ripping out all my seams and re-doing them post-blocking (to much more satisfactory ends), I think I’ve been cured of the impulse to just sew the damn thing up immediately upon completion.
    I also thought I was an evil genius because I use the salad spinner method and had never seen it mentioned anywhere…till I read the comments on this post!

  138. Wow, this is so helpful! I haven’t made my first sweater yet, but I will be starting on that soon, and I’m so glad that you talked about this! I was never quite sure what approach I was going to take, but you’ve got me convinced now. The sweater looks beautiful already–I can’t wait to see it all finished. I’m so glad that you’re feeling better, and that this sweater helped to get you well!

  139. I used to think I hated seaming until I tried wet-blocking before seaming — then I found out I just hated seaming unblocked pieces.
    And if that weren’t enough to make me like wet-blocking, learning to spin things out in the washing machine (no wet towels and things are much dryer and easier to handle) would have done it.
    I think wet-blocking is like what I was taught about fulling a hand-woven item: it turns yarn into fabric.

  140. Oh, and instead of being impatient for the pieces to dry — I take that time to start swatching for my next project — which I’m even more impatient for.

  141. Kristi @ 7:28– how big is your salad spinner, anyway? Mine could take a baby sweater, I suppose, but not that just-completed bulky cardigan. . .

  142. Gee, it’s never even occurred to me to sew up a sweater without wet-blocking the pieces first. Who wants to be seaming up sloppy, curling unblocked pieces? It’s worth every minute it takes … in order to save space, I sometimes block the pieces as a finish them so that I don’t have to find room to lay out an entire wet sweater.

  143. Glad to see you are back in good form and with an excellent tutorial. I have a sweater that is all knit and needs to be blocked, which I was considering and will now certainly do before sewing. I already know the back neck is too high and needs to be ripped back a bit (overzealous movie knitting), and was pretty convinced I’d want to know exactly how much based on the final size, not the lumpy size (lots of cables in this one). Your sage advice settles the question. I’ll block this weekend, sew on Monday and wear it next fall… here’s the pattern (Paton):

  144. I totally agree.
    And this probably explains why I have knit so few sweaters. And why the ones I HAVE knit (all but the first, which was a simple boxy drop shoulder) have all been top down raglans LOL.

  145. Bahhh ha ha ha! First swatching and now wet blocking, the product knitters has sucked you it. Live dangerously – knit and wear baby!

  146. I used the “but if I ever plan on washing it, I have to block it now” justification on myself the other day. I wanted to steek, but it said to steek after blocking. I didn’t want to block, but I knew it could bite me in the rear later. So I blocked, and the sweater got bigger, and I’m a bit sad. But hopefully it’ll all be close enough to fit anyway. My issue? I didn’t wash the swatch.

  147. I have a baby sweater out of the sublime Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk (yum) that is drying right this moment. I did it after the sewing up, but usually I do it before, for just the reasons you outlined so eloquently. 🙂

  148. I always do it! Just the way you say! (And partly because I’ve read about your blocking ritual before.)

  149. I do that too! That was how I was taught when I learned to put a knitted garment together.

  150. Yes, I do this. But I have one question for you — if you block your stuff on your bed, do you move it before nightfall, or does it really dry in less than 12 hours? If it’s the latter, I must be doing something wrong or maybe it’s just life in western Washington. Even socks take at least an overnight on a cookie rack next to the heater to dry all the way out ….

  151. The only time I don’t is with acrylic, and the only time I work with acrylic is when someone’s asked me to.
    But yes, I wash and block swatches. If it’s machine washable stuff, into the machine with a regular load it goes and into the drier as I would dry the load.
    Saves a huge pain and hassle later.

  152. Thanks so much for this useful information, this will certainly become part of my process- you are awesome 🙂

  153. OMGoodness !!!How I wish I had done this with a Manos cardi !!! There it is in a bag in the vback of the closet just as you said doing no one any good and making me curse eery time I have to move it for something. I SHOULD get it out of there and frog the whole darn thing except it is all sewn up and I just don’t have the patience to sit and rip for hours on end. this is a very expensive lesson well learned dear Harlot and I thank you for this posting very much as each and every one of the things I knit from now on I shall do as you have done .

  154. Well, I don’t ALWAYS block. It sort of depends on the piece. Socks? Never. Sweaters and lace? ALWAYS. In regard to the sweaters, I really just block them to make the sewing up part easier–as you alluded to.
    However–I do not swatch. I know someday I will pay the price, but the knowledge hasn’t seemed to stop me yet.

  155. I guess I was right after all these years! I watched my grandma do it this way and now I do it. Even the pins you use are very familiar, towels laying every which way. I love it…. History plays out again

  156. I had other things to do before I started to read on and on about the joys of blocking – wet blocking no less!
    And I still have to get the messages sent before the work day starts tomorrow.
    Just wanted to say that I WILL remember to block my next sweater before sewing it up.
    (the reason why I came here originally) to notify everyone that Willie Nelson has gotten a haircut.
    Took me right back to the early days of Knitters Without Borders! (I wonder if he donated his hair to help with the oil cleanup.)

  157. OK–I just blocked my sweater pieces. First time. Usually I crochet sweaters in cotton or acrylic and have never blocked. Just wash and wear. Never a problem. Prior to this sweater, I have only knit scarves. BUT–thanks to the Yarn Harlot’s inspirational visit to Detroit, I knit my first sweater, w/o a pattern no less, in a hand-spun wool.

  158. I’m going to want to find this again. Is it possible to run a find on le tout archives at once, or must one search month by month, year by year? That takes soooo long.

  159. Is there a reason you don’t just put the wet woolies in the washer and put it on spin- either on the delicate or normal cycle? I always do this with all my handwashed stuff but maybe there is a reason not to.

  160. Stephanie, I have this same conversation over and over with handweavers who want to make clothing. What, you spun the yarn, dyed it, wove the fabric and you don’t try the garment out in a muslin first? Yet they never listen…

  161. Yup, everytime. Although I have sworn off sweaters with pieces, having recently made both cardigan and a pullover in the round and in one piece.

  162. I too walk on my toweled pieces–for towels I use those “sham wows” towels you get off TV or at home shows. They really work well at getting the most possible moisture out of the pieces so they dry faster and then ,I too, lay out the pieces according to the measurements. I lay them on unused dry “sham wows”on a blocking board. I do this because I quickly found out that trying to sew curling edges together is not my strong suit–in fact, even with loud cursing” I can’t do it, so I am forced to do it the “right way”. Don’t you hate it when they are right?? 🙂
    Glad you’ve recovered. Knit on.

  163. I almost always wet block, except socks. I did get a surprise once as I laid out sweater pieces. One side I did the decreases exactly like the other side, I couldn’t see it until I laid it out for blocking.

  164. yes. i do what you do – block the individual pieces, seam up afterward. it’s so much easier to seam that way! Like others have noted, though, I’ve been delving into seamless garments lately. hmm.

  165. Yes – always. I also wet-blocked my gauge swatch BEFORE I start knitting when making sweaters and larger fit items.
    Often times the gauge I get before I wet block the swatch is different than the gauge I get after – especially for superwash wool.
    When I made the Central Park Hoodie, my swatch ‘grew’ after I wet blocked it. So, I knit the sweater based on my new gauge knowing what it will be like after I’ve washed it. I knit it with faith that the yarn will grow like the swatch. Sure enough, after I knit up all the pieces and wet blocked them, they all ‘grew’ to the appropriate length/size! Had I not done this I would have had a sweater that’s too big.

  166. Cannot wait to see how the sweater looks when it is finished!!
    Thank you for sharing the why as well as the how. I’m convinced, I’ll try it your way on the sweater I’m knitting now. Anything to get a better looking sweater!!

  167. Yup, that’s pretty much what I do, except I don’t knit very many sweaters with seams. Still, it gets washed! Or wet-blocked, if you prefer. Before anybody wears it. Because, well, I know where I carry around my knitting, and there’s some pretty nasty stuff out there. I wash my hands too. (I can’t help it. I’m not germ-phobic. I quite like bacteria etc in the right places. I am a public health nurse though. I know what happens when they’re not in the right places. Not that my knitting is going to infect anybody with salmonella, but, well.)

  168. Stephanie, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I tried sewing a sweater together before blocking once, and ONLY once. I ripped out every seam, wet blocked the pieces, and vowed I’d always wet block first from now on! Lucky for me it was a baby sweater.

  169. I am a super fan of stema blocking (it’s FUN!) but I can see that wet blocking has a slight advantage, although I’ve not found a yarn yet that grew more with wet blocking than with steam (it is bound to happen some time). But I find steam blocking to do a similar thing (you can do a really brutal steam block on curling edges, for eg) in making a good edge to then seam. I am also less tempted to pin it really hard out and go ‘yeah, sure, it’s totally long enough!’ when it clearly isn’t.
    I usually then baste it together and try it on, and if everything is good then I sew it up. I’m with you – you spent hour upon hour knitting it, what’s another three or four hours? Especially if it makes the difference between a sweater you love and one that lurks at the back of the closet…

  170. Yup, including the towel roll. For Christmas last year my beloved gave me a blocking board, which does free up bed space. Once upon a decade ago I didn’t wet-block first, but have found that my garments go together more smoothly and sew up easily when wet-blocked first. Can’t imagine doing anything else now.

  171. I always knit things in such a way that I never ever have to sew things together. But when I’m done I wet block.

  172. Now that sounds very intelligent. And if I ever get to the point where I’ve finished all the bits of a sweater, I will wet block before sewing up!!
    On a slightly (extremely) tangential note, if you block on your bed, where do you sleep?!

  173. Absolutely! After spending all that time knitting, tinking, frogging, knitting, crying, sweating, swearing and generally having a great time playing with string, I absolutely wet block before I sew it up. I hate the sewing up part, and wet blocking beforehand makes it so much easier and faster. Plus, I like how wet blocking makes me feel like I have reached a major milestone in the sweater-making process, allowing me to have an extra moment of celebration at what I have accomplished. 🙂

  174. Wait, not everyone does this? Really? I mean, it’s not like blocking out some extravagant lace, but you at least want to have it in its approximate measurements and get the sides to not curl!
    I am more shocked that people typically don’t do this. Wow.

  175. I do the exact same thing except I use Castile soap instead of Eucalan, roll and press my towels instead of walking on them and I often stack pieces on top of each other and block them. The two sleeves get stacked and pinned out to the exact same proportions. Ditto for the front and backs. I might not care about an extra half inch or so relative to the pattern but I’ll definitely care if those pieces aren’t the same size.

  176. Yes!! I wet block, give the knits a good bath–but I confess to knitting those ‘in the round’ sweaters–ganseys and even the current Aran is being knit that way–ok, it’s being neglected, but when I work on it, it’s knit in the round..I will knit together the shoulders, pick up sleeves and knit them down to wrist..and then Wet Block

  177. So, I’m not the only one walking on her wet, towel swaddled handiwork? Yay! Wet blocking has saved the necklines and borders on a couple of my sweaters. Can’t wait to see the finished cardi!

  178. I have wrapped in towells and skooshed them tightly. and, I commit to wet-blocking the baby sweater that needs to go to ‘mom’ in about 10 days…that is exactly what it needs. Thank you so much.

  179. Indeed. And as a stage manager, I’m very glad to hear someone else use the theatre analogy for blocking. Because the other thing that happens in theatre with blocking is that while it provides the basic skeletal structure for the piece, it is in no way the whole. So to does wet blocking show you your skeleton, and tell you if what you’ve been working on will, well, work.
    Plus I see it as a sort of sneak preview of what the final piece will be. Because what you’ve knitted will be different after it’s been laundered. Usually a better different. I love the feel of my blocked, ready-for-finishing pieces.
    Amen, Harlot! Preach that good word of wet blocking!!

  180. Whenever I’ve knit a seamed sweater, I’ve done exactly this.
    I wouldn’t have know what was unusual about your method if you hadn’t spelled it out. I just wet-blocked the pieces of a freakin’ baby Peapod, for heaven’s sake! Or for easy-seaming’s sake, really.
    HATE seaming, though. Blech, phoo, pfft!
    Give me top-down raglan or bottom up seamless – vive EZ!
    PS – But I will wet-block my seamless sweaters, too, if they look like they need some order or a water test.

  181. When I read “You’re not just knitting it, wearing it till it’s dirty, then throwing it away”, I was reminded of my friend’s first boyfriend. He was a bachelor making good money who decided that socks were not worth his while to wash. He bought big bags of tube socks, wore them, and tossed them out. I was gobsmacked.
    Handknits are not nearly as disposable.

  182. When and if I ever make anything woolen that requires blocking, I will indeed soak that bad boy down before I do any finishing work. My acrylic stuff won’t really block and my cotton blends and bamboo blends don’t seem to require it. So far. Of course, I mostly make baby stuff, hats and scarves, so I’m far from an expert.
    Thanks for the step by step, though! Can’t wait to see the finished sweater on you.

  183. It’s 2am and you’re Twittering!!!! wtf (I’m pretty sure you’re on Eastern time zone). You’re playing and I’m doing financial paperwork!
    …..just finished and about to relax and unwind by knitting on my socks wheeeeeeee…….

  184. But, but, but … if I do this, I’ll have to buy a WHOLE BUNCH MORE towels! We live in a tiny – I mean tiny – one bedroom apartment with one teensy tiny closet and no other storage. We keep 2 sets of towels for each of us and that’s it. ::sigh:: Maybe that’s why I’m enamoured with knitting in one piece from the top down. 🙂 I admit I’m getting bored with that – I’d like some other styles. What to do. What to do. I have the answer! Buy a new house with more room so I can store more towels and do more blocking and make more different sweaters. Eureka! Of course, if I buy that many more towels, I won’t have the money to buy the house.
    Life is filled with so many challenges.
    That’s a pretty color on that sweater, though.

  185. Well… I do now!
    (Seriously, I just finished all the pieces of my first baby sweater, and it’s waiting to be sewn up but it is blocked to size. The pieces of my grown-up sweater are .. well, about 1/5th done.)

  186. I have yet to finish a sweater but I think your way of blocking may be the way to go. One day, when I’m no longer angry at said sweater, I’ll finish it, block it then sew it together.

  187. Yes, I block before I sew up (although I usually steam block) and I agree with you. Just a quick(ish) question for you – because sewn shoulder seams are my nemesis (I can’t make them pretty), I’ve taken to doing the three needle bind off instead. Would you block before or after casting off in those circumstances? If after, would you dry the two pieces in one layer or in two (front(s) positioned over back)?
    – Pam (thank you, oh Wise One)

  188. Of course I do. Is there seriously any other way? My gran tought me that way and I’ve never known her to do differently. And in my humble opinion my gran ranks right up there with EZ (only minus the mathematical nifty streak) and yourself (minus the delightful sorytelling skills) as far as knitting authority goes. So that’s how I do it too. I do admit however that I go to absolutely impressive lenghts to construct my sweaters and cardigans as much in one single knit piece as knittingly possible. Because, man, do I hate/fear that process of sewing it up. I really admire a good smooth set-in sleeve. But I haven’t had the nerve…..yet. Working on that though. Do you have any pointers on set-in sleeves? Would love to learn how to do that woth confidence and sadly gran is no longer available.

  189. Oh Yes! To do otherwise is just plain folly.
    I have a good and full life and prefer to have a bit of control over the folly.

  190. I never used to block, but then I decided to give it a go a few projects ago and man did it make things easier! I HATE sewing up, but it really did it so much easier. I sew as well, and seriously, would any dressmaker worth their needles just cut out the fabric and start sewing without even ironing the fabric first? No, of course not. It’s just way easier to line things up and get things sorted.
    I wanted to try the whole ‘just spraying water’ on things, but it never seemed to work. I’m not the most delicate of creatures and that just seemed too dainty for me. So I agree, throw it in a bath tub, swish it around, and then stomp on it with a towel. Great for getting the water out, as you said, but also great for stress relief. Or am I the only one that yells at my knitting, giving it threats of frogging if it doesn’t promise to behave while I’m sewing it up?
    Plus you can’t get the cat hairs out of knitting if you don’t throw it in the bath and when you own a cat there are ALWAYS cat hairs!

  191. I agree with all of this. What I find worse than not wet blocking though is when someone gets a small hole in a pair of really expensive socks and doesn’t darn them. Think of all of the hours of time!! It only takes like 10 min to darn!! I know I am alone in this one. Most of my friends can’t be arsed to darn a sock, but it just makes me so sad.

  192. Hey, this is EXACTLY what I do, even down to walking on the rolled up towel! To have this confirmed by the Yarn Harlot is like… like… I feel like you’ve gently touched me on the head with your knitting needle and invested me with divine grace.

  193. We were talking about this the other week, the group of knitters were firmly divided into the camps of “how can you sew up without blocking” and “what a waste of time”. There didn’t seem to be any middle ground.
    I’m a soak and sew girl, it makes the seaming easier and I’m all for that.

  194. You are awesome ….. I thought I never bothered with blocking, now I know I do everytime I wash something ….. after reading your post I will be wet blocking everything from now on. Woo Hoo ….. thank you very much.

  195. Of course, just as you described, why only last night I was walking on towels. It does make seaming easier to get my sides lying flat and ensure the bits to be seamed together are the same length. Also I think blocking flat bits is easier than a 3D garment would be. I thought this order of things would be the norm!

  196. I wet block on a fabric board that’s on the floor of the living room because the one time I tried to block my sweater on my bed, I put a whole lot of holes in the mattress of a water bed. Hey, I was 19 and had strep throat!
    I totally can’t sew anything up unless it’s been blocked. I spend more time fighting to keep the pieces flat than I do sewing.

  197. I have to confess right now……..I hate sewing seams!!! I hate it, hate it, hate it!!! So I usually knit things that don’t require sewing seams like seamless sweaters, socks, shawls, hats and the like. I don’t know why but I’ll do almost anything to avoid sewing up seams, like waiting 3 months before I starting seaming a finished sweater for my niece. It was all done, but I just couldn’t bring myself to sew it up. Thank God I know my knitting weaknesses so I made it a size bigger than I thought she needed at the time to account for my procrastination when it came to sewing the seams LOL! And no, I didn’t give it a bath before I sewed the seams. I just steam blocked it and pinned it out until it dried. If I ever make another sweater with seams in it, I might try to give it a bath first. However when I’m spinning, I always give my freshly plied yarn a bath to set the twist. I just love to watch how my new yarn changes as it relaxes in a nice hot bath and then dries. I’ve been fortunate enough to take some classes from some amazing spinning teachers (Judith and Rudy for example) so I always give my yarn a hot bath. It’s definitely easier than sewing up seams!

  198. I do the same thing. I started doing this with the first sweater I ever made and wasn’t really sure if I should or not, but found that the edges were much flatter (it was stockinette stitch) then if I tried to seam it together without blocking. And you are definitely right … the seaming looks so much nicer when it is blocked first. I haven’t tried walking on it once it is in towels, though. Next time around I will give that a try.

  199. I do the same thing. I started doing this with the first sweater I ever made and wasn’t really sure if I should or not, but found that the edges were much flatter (it was stockinette stitch) then if I tried to seam it together without blocking. And you are definitely right … the seaming looks so much nicer when it is blocked first. I haven’t tried walking on it once it is in towels, though. Next time around I will give that a try.

  200. I also do all those steps for blocking a sweater. It’s so mich easier to sew up with the lengths of each piece matching up.
    I don’t make alot of sweaters so when I do I like them to be a success !

  201. Love you and the blog but I gotta say: nope. No wet blocking the pieces before hand. Often no blocking at all! No swatching. I just like to knit.

  202. I heard this in regards to weaving, but it makes perfect sense for knitting as well:
    You say you don’t have the materials or time to sample (swatch/block) to find out if you’re going to have a successful finished project, yet you are willing to sacrifice an entire project’s worth of materials and time to an unsuccessful finished project? Really?
    I also am one of Those People who subjects her swatches to all kinds of washing tortures before beginning the project: gentle swishing in the sink and drying flat, all the way to thrown in the washer and dryer to see what happens (well, I know what happens with wool…I mean with things that are likely to survive the washer and dryer). I always have more than one project going anyway, so the swatch torture happens well before the project begins. Even with the most tempting of new yarns, it doesn’t take THAT long to knit a 4×4 swatch and test…I can resist the siren call of the new project for at least a whole 24 hours to find out if it’s going to bleed color all over.

  203. Hmmm, that’s really something to ponder. I like your thinking on this, but like most others, I jump right into sewing up my garment. What about sweaters that are knit in the round? I made a Cobblestone for my son and the first time I washed it the sleeves and body grew to a great length. What should I have done about that?

  204. Well DUH! Everything I’ve ever read about blocking says the exact same thing! Though if it’s a seamless sweater it’s a different story…

  205. I always wet block – though I have a very bad habit of doing it after it mainly assembled – and yes, I have had some surprises over the years – and you are right – when I tell people that I “wash” my sweather before I ever wear it, I do get strange looks but I plan on keep on doing it the way I have done it for 30 years.

  206. Some time ago, I needed to buy a house for my firm but I did not earn enough cash and could not buy anything. Thank God my mate proposed to try to take the mortgage loans from banks. So, I acted so and used to be satisfied with my commercial loan.

  207. As a self taught knitter I have learned everything from books. I have never read this advise in any book so I have never done it. I will from now on since it makes so much sense.

  208. Oh man, are you kidding me. I do that every single time – I’ve had so many bad experiences with sweaters changing size/shape/dimensions after blocking the first time (even after a blocked swatch), and you’re absolutely right. I’d rather know while I still have time to frog with dignity than well afterwards.

  209. Whether I block a sweater assembled or unassembled depends on what I’m dealing with. Seamless sweaters generally go on the Woolly Board completely assembled. If my finished pieces measure right on gauge, I will assemble first and block second. If I’m worried about measurements, I block first and assemble second. If there’s a megaton of seaming (Cardigan for Arwen, I’m looking at you), I block first, assemble second. So far, I’ve had no nasty surprises!

  210. You know, I am KICKING myself for not doing this with the current sweater I’m working on. Not only is it too short, and I had to finagle how to add stuff on, but I screwed up one of the sleeves… of course was in denial, and now I have to find my perfectly hidden ends and take out the sleeve.
    Lesson learned.
    I hope.

  211. Yes, I do! Every single time. I don’t understand the people who don’t block pieces before sewing up — it makes it so much easier! The only time I don’t block before sewing is if it’s a seamless sweater and I just have to graft the underarms or something.

  212. I do exactly that — right down to the rolling up the towels and walking on them (just like Mum taught me…). It usually means that I have a fair number of things in my “to be blocked” stack, but hey…it’s all good.
    By the way, ShamWow is a fantastic substitute for the towels.

  213. You have exactly described my process. Makes sewing it up so much easier, among other things like discovering you have knitted 2 left sides…

  214. Um… er.. if it has to be sewed up, it goes into a basket in the back of the closet and I never see it again… I have a sweater I made for my 14 year old when he was 4 that’s still in the closet.
    It’s not that I don’t know how to sew up… just that I know myself, and I won’t do it, so I don’t do it.
    OTOH, I do wet block everything… except socks… socks usually come off the needles and go right on the feet. They get blocked when they get washed.

  215. As I am typing this, I have a sweater soaking so I can block it. It was great to read your post and know that I’m not totally crazy for doing it this way!

  216. When my daughter, who is active in school and sometimes local theater, saw me blocking a shawl she compared me to the director, telling my knitting to stay put and be still. Of course, I was talking to the shawl, who was most uncooperative.

  217. I’m more in the ‘it depends’ camp. I block Fair Isle and lace (usually finished, though). I don’t block acrylic or socks. I swatch yarns I’m suspicious of.
    OTOH, I like patterned knitting, so for many sweaters the pieces are fairly flat and I can match the patterns to ensure that I’m sewing evenly, and been happy with the results.
    Of course as a scientifically inclined person, I may have to try wet-blocking my next Aran sweater in pieces and see if it makes any difference!

  218. The sleeves on my last knitted sweather are two different lengths. I shoved it in a drawer until deciding what to do with it. Maybe I’ll dig it out, fix the sleeves and try the wet blocking method.

  219. I don’t do all that, but I do see your point – it makes life easier in the long run!
    That said, I have a question – if you block on your bed, do you leave it to dry there, and if so where do you sleep while it’s doing so, and doesn’t it make the bed damp?!

  220. Well, I’ve not made anything that really needed blocking before. Scarves and afghans pretty much take care of themselves and sizing doesn’t really matter. But as I am preparing to do my first real sweater, I will definitely do this. As you said, you spent hours knitting it, why not take the time to wet block the pieces to be sure the item is the best possible.

  221. Do you realize what a great gift you just gave us in this post?! Thank you SO much!!!! Wow–Now I know how to block my projects….

  222. Absolutely every time. In fact, one’s pinned to my little exercise mats on my dining room table even as we speak. (I get in trouble when I render our bed unfit for sleeping. 🙂
    Sometimes I’ll spin the pieces in the machine instead of walking on the towels, depending on the yarn.

  223. Excellent lesson. But where do you sleep if you have used your bed to block?

  224. Amen, sister! I block. Every time.
    I also like to iron. Dishtowels, sheets, skirts, you name it, I’ll iron it.
    Now excuse me while I quickly end my commenting to go straighten a picture on the wall and dust the knickknack shelf.

  225. Hey! This is awesome information! I wet block anything that needs to be seamed, but really didn’t know if I was doing it correctly. After reading your post I can say I was *sort of* doing it the right way. Now I have real directions on how to wet block. Spiffy! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!!

  226. I’ve only done one sweater in pieces, but I blocked them before sewing them together – otherwise, I would have gone crazy trying to match things up!

  227. That is my exact process! I’ve also found that my finishing is neater and I have no surprises if wet block all the pieces separately. You’ve just put words to it and helped justify why I go through the effort.

  228. I pin pieces out to match the schematic, then I take a spray bottle filled with water and spray them down till wet.

  229. Amen! Amen! Amen!
    Even though I am a Zimmerman/Swansen-ite and prefer to knit my sweaters in the round, I wet-block every time.
    I wet-block everything I knit — hats, socks, mittens, scarves, shawls.
    It just makes all the work worth it and makes the pieces look fantastic!

  230. I DO do this every time! When I was first learning, I wet blocked a sweater according to a book’s instructions, and it went great. Then on my second sweater, I didn’t, and the difference was significant enough that I became a convert and now I wet block every single time. It makes such a difference. I have to fight my lack of patience a little for a couple days while things dry, because I get all excited to have a piece finished, but it’s completely worth it.

  231. I’m about to begin a Penny Straker sweater pattern and was reading the directions. It clearly says DO NOT BLOCK. I couln’t believe it was saying that because every other pattern I’ve used (for 50 years!) says to block. Does anybody have any ideas why they would say not to block. This was intriguing me before I read the blog today.

  232. Yup, every time. Too many failed sweaters to leave it to chance. There’s a whole thread on Ravelry showing items pre and post-blocking. It’s amazing how well that yarn relaxes into shape and makes finishing a breeze. Good job on the photos, btw.

  233. Yes of course! Even with seamless sweaters, because I love the way rigourous wet blocking makes the fabric plump and smooth and drape so well.
    I do it almost exactly like you – only difference is, I pin the pieces on a non absorbent (usually a plastic sheet pinned onto my bed) surface because that makes the drying time much faster
    I totally agree that with the hours spent knitting the garment, why not take the final step to make it look really good instead of lumpy and bumpy?

  234. Much of what I know about such things, I’ve learned from you over the couple of years I’ve been reading your blog and books. So, yea, I block. The results are always worth it. And I knit a lot for others and know they’re gettting something clean in addition to better looking. And they won’t get a nasty surprise the *first* time they wash it because if it’s going to go bad, it’s already happened and wasn’t a gift after all. (I also include a note on how to care for whatever I give, so they can’t say they didn’t know if they wash a wool sweater in the washing machine!)

  235. I wet block everything I do. It’s a holdover from sewing, when I would iron all the paper pattern pieces before pinning onto the fabric, and then iron all the fabric before sewing together. Makes life a little easier to do a little bit of work ahead of time. Your sweater looks beautiful, can’t wait to see the finished glamour shots. 🙂

  236. Thanks for depressing me! I’m planning on finishing four sweaters during the World Cup, and three of them will need to be blocked. Lovely smell of wet wool in the summer . . . only kidding. I learned early on to always block, after I spent weeks knitting something on teeny tiny needles, only to discover when I went to sew it up that the front and back didn’t match, and that I’d inadvertently used the wrong stitches to sew one part because the edge had curled up, and I didn’t notice (sewing a black sweater up at night — also not a good idea).

  237. I wet blocked the last sweater I made for myself after it was sewn together. I only make sweaters by eliminating as many seams as possible, even to the point of taking a class to learn how to knit the sleeves in as I go. But this was the first wool sweater I ever made for myself and because of the cabling pattern I made the sleeves separately. It did loosen up quite a bit, which I was glad of because it was too snug a fit, even though my gauge was spot-on. I can’t imaging trying to decide how the sleeves/armholes should fit unless the garment was made up and tried on first?
    Also, for the writer who made an acrylic sweater and tried to wet block it – acrylics are all self-blocking. Acrylics are generally machine wash and therefore MUST be machine dried. There is no wiggle room. Knit to the size you need and it will self-block to your original measurements. Every time.

  238. Absolutely, that is the way to go, Stephanie. And blocking again after seaming, at least blocking the seams, doesn’t hurt either. I love wet blocking – it’s always satisfying to see how much better it looks!

  239. Yes, I do block all the pieces to a sweater before I sew it up. Made that mistake once; won’t do it again even though it is a royal pain.

  240. This is why I choose sweaters/tops knit from the top down in one piece. Seriously, if I had to sew all those pieces I wouldn’t do it. I hate sewing pieces together and it’s knitting not sewing, therefore (IMNSHO) it should be all one piece. 😀 Besides, thankfully I live in the desert, I don’t need as many sweaters as someone living in the frigid north. 😉

  241. i’m not a sweater maker, but sometimes i block my lace scarf on the needle after a few repeats.

  242. I have yet to make a sweater, though I have the yarn for several of them waiting patiently in the stash. This makes perfect sense and I’ll definitely follow your lead when I make my first (and second, and third….) sweater. Thank you!

  243. Thank you for blogging about your blocking process. I have been wondering for some time about a method that is actually efficient and effective. I am knitting my first sweater that I will actually finish and I would hate to screw something up by figuring out my ideal blocking process AFTER the fact.
    You’re great, thanks much.

  244. I’ve yet to complete a sweater (working on my first one now), but I will try to remember to block all my pieces first! Sounds like a perfectly sensible idea to me! 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

  245. Totally and completely agree. And this is one of the reasons I prefer sweaters made in pieces. I find them easier to adjust and I prefer fixing issues on one or two pieces rather than ripping back a whole sweater. And I think pieces are easier to wet block for the first time than a whole sweater.
    I have two sweaters needing modifications. They’re both knitted in one big piece without seams. They’ve been sitting for a long time because I have to rip back so much knitting in addition to the area that I want to fix. Admittedly, they’ve also been sitting because I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old…and I’m just now starting to occasionally have a little “me” time other than on my bus commute.

  246. I have not, but I will!!! Makes perfect sense.
    Oh and I totally agree about not telling non- fibre people about these things. I get so tired of the blank, confused and even horrified looks!
    I would really like to strangle the jerk who labeled stationary aerobic bicycling “spinning” !!
    Person who does not know me well, “hey Beth what did you do for vacation?”
    Me, “I went to a five-day spinning retreat.”
    The look I get for that is priceless!

  247. No, I was under the impression that you were supposed to block it after you had sewn it up. I think I will try this on my recent sweater, almost finished! Thanks for the great instructions.

  248. Yep, I wet block every single thing I knit unless it’ll never be washed. (I recently made some decorative toys, not intended for playing with, that are like that.) I occasionally neglect to block socks as soon as they’re done, but go straight to the wearing phase because I’m excited. Then I just wait till the first washing. 🙂

  249. Question:
    I know you prefer wool, but when you do knit something that is eventually going to be machine washed/tumble dried (cotton, linen or baby items – even the superwash wool ones, new moms don’t really have time to handwash very often) would you stick it in the washer & drier before sewing it up?

  250. I will from now on! 🙂
    Those are convincing words – thanks for sharing your method with us!

  251. You may (or may not) be surprised how many people do their sweaters just like because that is how you do it! That is the way I do it, and I followed your directions to the letter!
    Can’t wait to see that one finished. Did you/are you doing the embroidery on it? That is the part that really attracts me to that sweater, the deal breaker. It is in my queue because of a simple embroidered flower… I am so easy to please.

  252. I’m a sewer first, blocker second. But, I do block!! And I always swatch! I also tend to pick sweater with very few seams so when the sweater’s done, it’s ready for a warm, relaxing bath. I also try on alot so I can make adjustments as I go.

  253. I’ve resisted blocking for just the misunderstanding you mention: I don’t always want to STRETCH my work. Lately I’ve been hearing about how it’s just pushing things around gently into place (or seeing if they will go there) and feeling much less overwhelmed by it. Of course, that still doesn’t answer the question of where on earth will I find space to do it…but I promise to find some!

  254. Your tutorial is worth printing and filing for reference. Thank you. I do wet block my large items–sweaters, shawls, etc.–but, not the socks or mittens. Mother did it and I follow suit.
    I think blocking is to knitting what pressing is to sewing. Both can cover a multitude of mistakes and also point out the ones that cannot be covered.
    Love your blocked sweater pieces and your bathtub.

  255. You got me with your convincing argument for it. I’ll quote one of your earlier posters:
    “Before I read this? No. Going forward? Yes.”

  256. I admit I don’t knit many sweaters, and if I do, I tend to choose seamless. However, I am coming around to appreciate blocking more and more, so while I simply spritzed the cotton sweater pieces this last time I am becoming more likely to do the full treatment (especially with wool).

  257. Yes, I do. The only deviation in my routine is that I soak the pieces in my washing machine (no agitation, I fill the tub and then turn the machine off for the soak) and then spin the pieces out, which removes most of the water. Blocking is very rewarding.

  258. WOW … that’s exactly what I plan on doing with my first knit shawl ….. give it a bath, roll it in towels, add extra towels to the bed and pin / block in into shape. Am I clever or what? Thanks for reinforcing my brilliant idea.

  259. Oh CRAP. I’m not much of a sweater knitter, and I did wet-block the last sweater I knit–it was made of sort of amateur-ish handspun and HAD to be blocked. But last night I sewed up a baby sweater that now know should have been wet-blocked. I didn’t consciously not wet-block, but I got overly excited. Now I’m in a dither . . . surely the knitting gods will not mete out the punishment reserved for sins committed on bigger projects. I mean, it’s small–a BABY sweater, and it’s a gift for crying out loud. I’m just begging for mercy here.

  260. Considering I have both my 1st sweaters on the needles right now (yes I said both, it’s a race to see which one gets the honors) I learned so much from this post it’s unreal. THANK YOU and there’s no awkward silence from my little corner of the web.

  261. Question? Did you take a dressmaking class in school? or alternatively, a tailoring class?
    Because you just described the smart way to cut shape pin arrange and put together fabric clothing.
    I have not ever knit a sweater (I’m not sure I ever will). But what you just described is exactly the way I’d go about finishing one off, because it’s how you make clothing – IF you want it to fit you, that is….

  262. Loved your comment about walking on the towel wrapped pieces. I thought I was the only one who did that!

  263. The one time I’ve knitted a pieced sweater so far, that’s exactly what I did.
    Love the results, but also makes me appreciate sweaters that don’t need sewing.

  264. It seems (seams!) worth it just to make the edges lie flatter for sewing up. I have yet to knit a seamed sweater, and living in SoCal I think a lot of linen tanks are in my future, and they can be made seamless.
    This green cardigan is so beautiful, I can’t wait to see it made up. I kind of want to pet it, pity we don’t have tactile internet yet.
    PS – After only 4 years if knitting, I have bought a drop spindle. You are an influence. You and Guinevere the angora bunny, who I saw in a spinner’s lap, having her shedding coat picked and drafted straight onto the wheel. The two spinners in the shop didn’t even flinch when I commented that I thought it was a waste of my longhaired cat’s fluff to just throw it in the trash.

  265. I applaud you and am persuaded to start blocking before sewing up. But I have one fear: Does anything bad happen when you knit button bands and other finishing work onto blocked pieces, and then wash the whole thing? Do the nonpre-blocked bands shrink and stretch so that they don’t fit? Please tell us, oh Wise One! Thanks!

  266. Yep. I wet block often, especially a large piece, like an adult-sized sweater. And yep, I block in pieces, rather than after assembly, even if I have to add button bands afterward. My b’bands don’t seem to be affected; if they’re wonky, it’s because I didn’t pick up enough stitches, or picked up too many — not because the fronts have been blocked.

  267. I do it every time unless it is 1) knit top down/bottom up, or 2) it is a child sweater. I didn’t know it was possible to seam it up without wet blocking first since I really need that session to help me line stuff up before I sew (I’m a craptastic sewer).

  268. Yes, recently realized the benefits of wet blocking before seaming. Never occured to me to wash too. Wonderful advice!

  269. I didn’t see a comment about this, so perhaps this is a dumb question. If you wet block the pieces before you make up your garment, then you add your neckband, button band, whatever, don’t you run into a problem with a garment body that is all relaxed and happy, with some finishing part that is not (or less so)? Or do you wet block it again when your project is completed?

  270. i firmly believe that many gauges lie. this lie is hidden until wet blocking (thorough wet blocking as you describe). it’s when you can pull out your swatch, and dance like a possessed person screaming, “LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE,” to your swatch.
    and then trash tack the swatch with things like:
    -thought you’d get away with it, eh?
    -who’s smarter now, bitch?
    -i’m froggin’ you (yeah, frog can be used as a four letter word here….)
    luckily my family sees this as a warning to what happens when you lie. and not a reason to put me in a padded cell. truthfully though, i think if i were sent to a padded cell, i may just find a way to knit it up. maybe they have figured that out too.
    and of course, if i did knit something there, it would be blocked.

  271. Yup. I also pat it quite violently on the towels and sometimes even whack it with a yard stick to even out all the stitches–amazing how much better it looks and how much more easily it goes together.

  272. Genius. I’m blocking more and more and have even started (for all of your fabulous reasons) blocking my swatches!

  273. I haven’t tackled a sweater yet. (I started knitting socks, and have been stuck there for 3 years). I do appreciate the advice and pictures, however. I agree when I do decide to knit a sweater, it makes sense to do it right. For the same reason my mother told me to wash fabric before making the skirt. I found that lesson out the hard way . . .

  274. Oh my gosh, that makes perfect, total sense. Thanks so much for the step-by-step walk through, pictures and, most of all, the why of it all! I am completely convinced!

  275. I’ve been away from knitting for a long while and have rediscovered the importance of wet-blocking before construction. I’ve been taught by a lovely denim-yarned sweater that turned out rather oversized (I swear it’s just a large boyfriend sweater), which my husband has named Penelope. It apparently makes him think of cozy, by-the-fire days in the English countryside. I’m unaware of a Penelope in his past, but who knows?

  276. in theory that is what i do as well, but i have been caught stretching and cursing before resigning to the fact my daughter gets another sweater…
    I like sewing up the seams after blocking too

  277. “Blocking in knitting means the same as it does in the theatre, which is to say that it’s the determination of the proper positioning of the players.”
    YES!!! I love this quote!

  278. Every single time. I love it when people who are visiting the bathroom look over into the tub and see all the “parts” floating around: they have the most extraordinarily confused (and, in some cases, concerned) look on their faces.
    In a pinch (read: hurry) I’ll steam, but I much prefer the soak, dry, block method for all the reasons you cited.

  279. Um, not usually. I often block the first piece after I finish it, so that I can get a better read on the yarn and sizing than I did from the swatch I may or may not have fully finished. Then, I usually sew the pieces together, and block the finished garment again.

  280. If only you had written, and I had read, this post before I seamed up my first sweater. Talk about disappointment! Since then I’ve avoided seamed sweaters for fear of repeating the awful experience. Thank you for passing on your “purls” of wisdom!

  281. I have done this and other times I’m in too much of a rush. I think you’ve inspired me to spend the extra time though. I have a helpful hint that you probably already do for some knits, but since you didn’t mention it here…you can put your knits in a salad spinner after their bath to get out a great deal of excess water gently. Then I roll up in towels and step on them. The salad spinner is particularly nice for lace shawls, which then go directly to the blocking towel since they don’t hold so much water.
    I have a question too. You are so amazing at popping out great sweaters for yourself. Is it hard for you to throw away an old favorite knit when it gets a little too worn? I wonder if you weed out the old ones in the closet to make room for the new and beautiful? I mean at some point you just don’t have any more space, right?
    This cardi is especially lovely! Both the pattern and the yarn are winners. I can’t wait to see if you embellish it with embroidery!

  282. I definitely block the pieces of a sweater before I sew them up; otherwise they’d curl too much to sew neatly. I pin them to measure, match them, all that, just as you describe.
    But I don’t wet block them. I steam block them, under wet towels, usually quite wet depending on how much the proportions have to be tugged. They come out nice and crisp. Wash the knits? Yes, eventually; and since they’re all for my kids and superwash, if they grow then, so much the better. Twenty sweaters and I haven’t had a problem yet (or, to be honest, had to wash them too many times, as they’re outerwear.)
    Works fine for me, and as you’ve so eloquently reminded us, Harlot, there are no Knitting Police.

  283. Thank you for a complete educational post with pictures. I have never done a good job of wet-blocking, it turns out. For my cotton sweaters- I live in humid Texas- I just wash them in the washing machine and dryer- don’t cry, I can usually only afford dishcloth cotton for sweaters- and really, it makes nice sweaters for sweaty hot weather. For knits of wool, I had read the bit about only steaming, and I made a very nice wool sweater for my Dad, and now I think ” It could have been so much nicer.” and I am very sad.

  284. Stephanie,
    I’m glad you’re feeling better, and I love the greens in your new sweater. May you wear it in good health!

  285. Great reasoning! I am going to do it this way from now on. Makes a lot of sense. 🙂

  286. I had the same philosophy on having professional framing when I cross-stitched. Proper finishing: the difference between homemade and Handmade!

  287. I do what you do, except I spin out the excess water in the washing machine and use a blocking board. Where do you sleep while the sweater is drying? You’re even more of a hard core knitter than I thought you were, if you’re sleeping on the floor for your knitting.

  288. This . . . this is why I’ve read your blog for years. These tips/tricks/pearls of wisdom have truly helped me continue to love knitting — not throw it in a deep and dark place that other creative endeavours have gone! Your experience and depth of knowledge have helped me tremendously. Thanks so much.

  289. I’ve been working on a stupidly complex cabled cardigan over the last year and a half (ok, so it’s been in time-out longer than I’ve actually been knitting it) but I’m finally ready to block and seam it. Now I have the courage to go do that. Thank you. BTW, I’m coveting your bathtub. I hope that isn’t creepy.

  290. I knit almost exclusively seamless sweaters. But I do wet block them in one big piece.

  291. absolutely yes, can’t get those seams to line up nicely any other way

  292. I will now.
    I have not made a sweater in years and years, but I have been thinking about it quite a lot lately. Your method makes so much sense.

  293. Thank you. This is the kind of information I need to start making garments again. My grandmothers taught me to knit, but we never got to sweaters, etc. Just Barbie doll clothes and toilet paper covers. The rest was self taught because I never knew any other way. I was never happy with my sweaters so stopped making them.
    This all makes perfect sense except one thing: do you also wash the yarn you will sew the seams with so it is relaxed and the same as the wet-blocked pieces? Otherwise, won’t it sew up differently? Just askin’.

  294. This absolutely makes sense to me. Not only for the sewing together, but for the simple fact that commercial yarns come from factories and are shipped from all over just like clothing I’d buy at the store, and I don’t want to wear that without washing it first either.
    Plus, in addition to holding them in my hands for hours while I knit, I haul my projects around everywhere and spend sometimes they just don’t smell fresh and clean after all that.

  295. I do not, but I have not made that many sweaters and they typically get better with each one. I think I will do all that preblocking with my next sweater – my second Girl Friday sweater but this one is for my mom. She really deserves a sweater that fits for a change…

  296. Blocking seems to be the word of the day. Lots of reasons and well thought out arguments. I like it. 😀

  297. I wet block any sweater, seamless or seamed. I usually use a three needle bindoff for shoulder seams, so if those are sloped at all, I seam and then block. I do a final block post-edgings to make sure they come out neatly.
    Another thing you can find out by wet-blocking is whether or not the yarn bleeds. I got a nasty surprise some years back when my blocked sweater bled (and the front and back dried to slightly different color intensities!). As far as I can tell, I’m the only person to have had a problem with this particular yarn (Rowan Summer Tweed in a lovely “peacock”), so maybe it was just a bad dye lot. I now wet a snip of a new yarn before knitting to figure out if I have to deal with that sort of surprise.
    I also block later if I’m really running late and exact sizing is not critical (as with the baby sweater I just finished).
    Your sweater is gorgeous! I’d start making it for myself, but am not up for that much stockinette just now.

  298. I love blocking! But I also love seamless sweaters- the fewer seams, the more I enjoy it. One of my current projects is converting a pattern that was written to be knitted bottom-up, in flat pieces, to a one-piece, top-down, with sleeves in the round. Blocking, I don’t mind, but seaming absolutely everything? Including sleeves? Makes my head hurt. But I still admire pieced sweaters- diversity is the spice of life!

  299. I have a question. I do generally wet block before I seam. But if you wet block before you knit the button bands, won’t the button bands relax the first time you washed the completed sweater? And then wouldn’t they be all wonky because the main part of the sweater wouldn’t relax an equivalent amount since it’d already been washed? Am I just borrowing trouble by worrying about this?

  300. I was a year or 2 into knitting before I learned about the magic of blocking. I agree, it makes sewing up the bits so much easier when you don’t have to wrangle curled edges.
    I still don’t wash and dry a swatch though…

  301. THIS. After sewing together 2 or 3 sweaters with parts that hadn’t yet been blocked, I decided to try it this way. Muuuuuuuch easier and looks ‘waay better than those other sweaters. All the pieces stayed nice and uncurled while I sewed them – amazing! Knowing that the armholes were going to fit before I sat down with a darning needle was a great boon, too.

  302. I love the roll up in towels thing so much I also do it with wet bathing suits and have not sacrificed any to the wicked spinner machine since the day I thought of it. I admit to looking at the health club’s h-u-g-e pile of dry towels and thinking wistfully about bringing in a wheelbarrow full of soggy knitting, but so far have resisted the impulse. So far.

  303. I agree whole heartedly with you; when you have spent so much time from picking out the pattern and yarn and making the item why skimp at the end. It is also why I ripped out 4 inches of my wedding shawl when I realized the second ball of yarn had a weird reappearing white spot. Everyone said “oh it is fine.” I am not going for fine – I spent 4 weeks of my life making this lace shawl – I am going for FANTASTIC!!

  304. Thanks for that blocking tutorial. It may take hold and get me going down the sweater road eventually. The same way your explanations about frogging if you have to spurred me on to frogging and reknitting my first big knitted item, a multicolored, chenille poncho for a friend of mine.
    You’d think a sweater would be small potatoes after that, but I am scared to knit sweaters too. Mainly for the very reason you mentioned: that you do all that knitting and it doesn’t work.
    Plus I feel like a lot of sweaters are made the wrong way (starting from the bottom and working to the top). Yes, I am aware that there are books for top down knitting. I have even bought a sweatershirt pattern that starts out that way. I think I am going to eventually pick out a yarn I really love and make a sweater from that.

  305. I knitted a vest two years ago and the pieces are still sitting there . . . waiting. Your clear and excellently written piece about blocking has encouraged me to take the plunge. Hubby will have a vest to wear this winter!

  306. thanks for this 🙂
    I have knitted a couple sweaters but am 3/4 and halfway through my first two seamed sweaters right now and was wondering… I heard all the talk about it being silly to block pieces but it always seemed to me like it would be smart and easier to work with than all the floppy pieces I have right now. yay validation! Do you reblock the entire thing when you’re done (esp. if you had to add buttonbands, etc?)

  307. Wet blocking the bits makes perfect sense. Thanks for the great description. By the way, I know how you feel about doing things other people don’t. My husband once told my son I couldn’t come to the phone because I was busy “pinning fabric to the floor”. Yes, I’m a quilter as well as a knitter.

  308. That’s the way I was taught to do it and it makes perfect sense to me.

  309. I always wet block a sweater just like you. I though you were suppose to, how else will you see a glaring error before putting it together?

  310. I always wet block everything, even socks. Even the dreaded acrylic, should it raise its ugly head. Since I’m also a dyer, I have moved on from the towel walking stage to a spinner from The Laundry Alternative. Wonderful product, and now that my washer’s not quite what it used to be but still too good to replace, I spin out my laundry, too, which cuts drying time tremendously.

  311. Yup, I always wet block. Though when done to socks I really think it’s just a typical washing procedure…
    I like knowing a sweater will fit before seaming and making it harder to rip out.

  312. I do it too and it does make sewing up (especially the band) much easier. It’s a real time saver in the end because it catches any knitters denial that might be hidden in the work. Heather

  313. Ayup. Just like you. Except for baby sweaters that are made out of urhrg-ilick, where I use a pattern with button bands that are knitted as you go. Those are washed busy mom style, in the washer, and dried in the dryer, so that it won’t look different after the first wash to the mommy. New mommies can be discouraged by things like that, you know?

  314. I have been knitting for over 40 years, and I have always given my pieces, or what ever I am making, a bath, unless the yarn is dry clean only.
    The idea of just spray blocking or just steam blocking were new to me as I joined knitting groups and read and learned more.
    I definitely believe in a bath!

  315. I always do this. When I started knitting I was told it was the best way to back your pieces come together and look good in the end. I hadn’t even thought there was another way.
    How close minded of me. Oh well I shall continue doing it your way and when people tel me I wrong I’ll just tell them that this is what you do and that should shut-up at least half of them.
    Thank you.

  316. I spin my own yarn, so I soak/wash gently, hang to dry the singles which stops the skein from looking and feeling like a hair scrunchy. Then I ply, then wash and dry again. By then the yarn’s what it really will be. If it’s bought yarn, chances are I’ll skein up and rinse before knitting, which changes the yarn’s behavior dramatically.
    I knit in the round, so it’s washed for the first time when it’s done and before it’s worn for the first time. (Yes, I DO swatch! )

  317. Never thought of wet blocking before sewing up, but it makes so much sense – so glad you posted this before I finished my next sweater!

  318. Nope.
    But then I tend to favor the “knit in one piece” style of projects. That means that I have only occasionally seams to worry about.
    I usually wash the finished garment before wearing – except this one time when the cardigan was so amazingly beautiful and tempting that I put it on right away and forgot about the washing. It was perfect and I could not bear the idea of liking it less after a wash. Now is the moment to check this I am afraid.
    I never pin anything while wet blocking. I know some of my shawls would look more spectacular severely blcked, but even the dental floss blocking with very few pins take too much of my precious time now. I hope to get blocking wires one day. I bet it will change my shawl-blocking politics.
    But I will keep my finished – garments in the wash – patt in shape on a towel – let dry process.
    (Precision: I do (smallish) swatches, wash them and measure them carefully before and after the wash.)

  319. I love this blocking process. I find it gets the pieces used to me so they expect to be seamed nicely for me. I love the microfiber towels.
    Can’t wait to see the finished sweater.

  320. I also agree with blocking before sewing up. I get compliments on my seams and finishing a lot, and I put that down to the the fact I do it *properly* lol

  321. I absolutely agree with you about blocking. Yes, it is a PIA, but what a difference. I started blocking lace shawls but then went on to block everything. (I iron everything – clothes, linens, etc, too, maybe it’s an obsession?)
    Here’s a thing I do to help me get it right. I use a roll of white paper and draw the schematic pieces on it to the correct size. It doesn’t take long at all. then it is soooo easy to just pin to the drawn lines.

  322. I am curious if it is of any value to wet block when the yarn you are using is mostly acrylic? I was just sewing up a sweater yesterday and all the pieces were rolling and folding. I though to myself – maybe I should block this first in pieces. But then I was using a plymouth yarn that was 75% acrylic and 25% worsted so I wasn’t sure it would work the same…what would other people do?

  323. IMO, you are doing exactly the right thing. However, I’m lazy and this is why I try to avoid knitting things that have to be sewn together after the knitting is completed. Living in southern California helps in that I almost never knit sweaters since it doesn’t get cold enough for me to get any wear out of them. I stick mostly to socks, scarves and shawls with the occasional raglan-sleeved cardi that can be knit in the round.

  324. I have yet to make a cardigan that requires me to sew pieces together, but if I do, I’ll follow your advice here. In the meantime, I’m sticking to top down, knit in the round, no seaming!

  325. UHHHH Well since you put it like that I would be stupid not to start to every time! In the past no but the future is looking brighter! And I may have fewer WEIRD Finished objects!

  326. Yes I do this! I wasted time on a bunch of sweaters not doing this, and I wasted the time spent knitting the entire sweater in some cases. I’d rather spend the time wet-blocking.
    In fact, for my last three sweaters — the only ones that fit, imagine? — I’ve started wet-blocking about a quarter of the way through knitting.
    For top-down sweaters this means I cast off when I hit the bottom of the arms, wet block what I’ve knit so far, and try it on. I re-measure the actual width of the sweater to see if I’m getting the right chest measurement. For my last two top-down sweaters, this meant I undid the temporary castoff, undid some rows and removed some increases then went on. I also might do a contrast castoff and wet-block again as I near the final length of the sweater, just to make sure the length is right.
    For bottom-up sweaters, this means I wet-block the back after I knit it first, and measure it. For my last bottom-up sweater, I also wet-blocked the fronts and sewed up the back and fronts and tried it on without sleeves, before even starting knitting the sleeves or button bands or collar.

  327. Well, I have only done one sweater that was in pieces, and truthfully I’m not done knitting it. However, I will definitely block it before I sew it, as I intentionally changed the finished measurements, and I need to see if I changed all the pieces evenly. One question though…Do you wet block pieces before you join them for say a hood piece where you still have live stitches on the shoulders?

  328. THANK YOU! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for justifying the process. People give me no end of flak for my finishing processes (and beginning processes – I’m a complete freak about gauge swatches). You’re so right; spending time in the prep phase saves you a lot of teeth-gnashing later on, and garners you well-fitting, flattering garments that will be the envy of knitters and non-knitters alike.

  329. I always wet block. Everytime. In the same manor, minus the bed.
    In addition to the harlots reasons, that yarn is dirty. I am no germaphobe but that water is gray when I soak regardless of the color of the yarn. Where all has that stuff been? How long did it collect dust at the LYS? And it often has excess dye in it. I want to wear a clean, tidy and SOFTER garment!

  330. I have never done this before but I might start doing it now. A few nasty suprises makes me want to revamp what I do…

  331. Yep, I use the same routine. I actually get a kick out of walking on the rolled up towel. I was using that method years before I even started knitting, but can’t for the life of me remember who taught me that. I can’t imagine that I came up with it on my own.
    I use a lot of indie dyer yarn, so the bath is also a good way to find out if the color will hold or needs some sort of step to try to get it to stop bleeding.

  332. I block. But I love your detailed explanations!!
    BTW, if you block stuff on your bed, where do you sleep? The couch?

  333. Yes, that is what I now do but unfortunately, now how I leared to do it initially. I’ve evolved to doing it this way through a series of unfortunate learning experiences. (Along the lines of make every wrong choice and you’ll be left with the right one that was there in front of you, all along. ha, ha)
    **However, I also wet block the swatch, too, now. It avoids even more pitfalls and wasted time.

  334. I’m tired just reading that. And I do it everytime but the first time I made a sweater(dress). Of course, the first time I made a sweater is the reason I do it everytime. Okay, traumatic memories… must go drink some wine until the pain fades again. 🙂 Sweater looks fabulous, by the way. Wish I knew you so I could borrow it!

  335. Call me odd, but I like to block each piece as it is finished. At least the body all together, then the sleeves together. If there’s a length issue with the back, I’d rather know before I spend too much time with the fronts.

  336. i have yet to knit a sweater (i’m terrified and hard to fit), but wet blocking before seaming makes perfect sense to me. i plan to do when i’m brave enough to attempt a sweater.

  337. Yes. Every time. (Though I don’t make sweaters that often). Towels on the floor, not the bed. I wet blocked a wrap I made for my mum this Christmas, though, and the yarn was way too easy to force to do something it shouldn’t. I ended up massively overstretching it (because I thought it would be too short and panicked; lesson learnt – fix it at the knitting stage, not the blocking, oh, and don’t be doing it at three a.m. on Christmas Eve either; it clouds your judgement) and it practically reached the floor.

  338. My initial reaction to your post was, “That’s crazy!” And then I remembered that I went through the same process when I knit my Father Alice Starmore’s ‘Irish Moss’. I usually wind up knitting seamless sweaters, but I do think I’ve changed my thinking from ‘that’s crazy’ to ‘of course!’
    My question: If you are knitting a seamless sweater and are going to pick up the stitches for the collar, would you block before picking up the stitches and knitting the collar? I’m wondering if that would make a difference. (I’ve just started knitting ‘Featherweight Cardigan’.)

  339. Absolutely. I don’t wet block everything immediately after knitting (usually with socks, it’s only after they’ve been worn and are now being washed, and even then I don’t use blockers), but with anything that needs to be seamed, I do. I put things in a basin in my bathtub to soak, then use my guest bed as a surface — works great.

  340. WOW. I had never even heard of blocking before seaming. It make perfect sense to me and I will do it on my next peiced piece whenever that is.
    I’ve always been a fan of wet blocking anyhow. You didn’t even mention the fact that after weeks and weeks of hauling a project around on the bus/train/car/living room floor with the yarn running through your hands and your cats’ mouths, most stuff can stand a good wash before you put it on your body (or worse your friend/family member puts it on their own without knowing it isn’t actually all that clean).

  341. Thank you for this informative guide. I have always blocked before seaming but only by dampening the garments with a water spray and then lightly pressing with an iron, which is the method most commonly suggested in books etc. I have always found it rather unsatisfying as it rarely prevents the stocking stitch edges from curling up again. It had never occurred to me to completely immerse the pieces in water before blocking, even though I handwash most of my knitted garments in this way. I blocked a sweater last night using your method for the first time and, voila!, the pieces have perfect flat edges just dying to be sewn up! Fab!

  342. Thank you for your advice. I’ve never made a sweater. I’m starting to think about making sweaters (because seriously, you get to use larger needles – how can it take longer than socks on a stitch by stitch comparison). I will wet block before I sew it up. Every time.

  343. Thanks…I needed to understand this! Also…still hoping for more info on the baby bonnet/sock pattern.

  344. That is why I have yet to ever knit a sweater…in pieces or otherwise. One day I will. I just don’t have the skill to do sleeves and the set in stuff and all. I have yet to get a shawl right. I start over so many times because i have forgotten something that I think I will never get one done.
    I like the logic behind Steph’s reasoning for why she does what she does and she is right by the way. Why spend all that time and then have the problems pop up when you least expect it?

  345. I generally don’t block before sewing. I don’t consider it worth the effort unless I’m working in natural fibres. The last two sweaters I knit were synthetic/mostly synthetic. Those are the only two (except for the one which shall not be named, which was synthetic anyhow) which weren’t knit in one piece. I agree with it in theory, but I’ve never felt the need to do so. I’m going to felt stuff up later? Not gonna block it. It’s not going to hold its shape no matter what? Not happening. I consider wet blocking to be reserved for pieced sweaters where the shape matters, and that are knit in either wool or cotton.

  346. I never used to block anything by any kind of method. Then, about 5 years ago, I read some of Eunny Jang’s posts/tutorials on how to block and I was converted! I block almost everything now and I like to block the separate pieces before I sew them together. It’s easier and the end result looks much nicer.

  347. I wet block anything that was done in pieces, in pieces. Obviously, I wet-block seamless garments as a whole.
    The only thing I don’t wet-block are socks for myself.
    I use the walking-on-towels technique to squish out the water. Another good technique is to put all the pieces in a mesh laundry bag, go out in the back yard, and whirl them madly around your head and let centrifugal force do the work. It’s good for your upper arms, too.
    I don’t use the bed. I use either styrofoam insulation board (cheap!) or, if the weather is really fine and dry, I pin the pieces to a nylon mesh folding chaise longue (the kind you get from the drugstore for $20)
    Might blog about that one day.
    Either way, it’s much better to see how it washes up, and to correct ONE piece is much easier before assembly, especially if you have a gauge difference due to being nice and relaxed while doing the left front of a cardigan, and sweating out a financial situation while doing the other half.

  348. I wet block anything that was done in pieces, in pieces. Obviously, I wet-block seamless garments as a whole.
    The only thing I don’t wet-block are socks for myself.
    I use the walking-on-towels technique to squish out the water. Another good technique is to put all the pieces in a mesh laundry bag, go out in the back yard, and whirl them madly around your head and let centrifugal force do the work. It’s good for your upper arms, too.
    I don’t use the bed. I use either styrofoam insulation board (cheap!) or, if the weather is really fine and dry, I pin the pieces to a nylon mesh folding chaise longue (the kind you get from the drugstore for $20)
    Might blog about that one day.
    Either way, it’s much better to see how it washes up, and to correct ONE piece is much easier before assembly, especially if you have a gauge difference due to being nice and relaxed while doing the left front of a cardigan, and sweating out a financial situation while doing the other half.

  349. Always! Always! Frackin’ always! Thanks for this post Stephanie. Have a safe trip with the gang to Squam and enjoy your time away.

  350. I wet block, too.
    And it’s a good thing. I usually wet-block and set one piece while I’m working on the next piece, as it saves time.
    With wool, I find it doesn’t matter as much. But when you’re blocking anything bamboo or silk it can totally change the dimensions of the product. Sometimes it makes me more excited about the finished sweater.
    On my most recent sweater (self-designed), it not only changed the dimensions of the yarn, it actually changed the yarn itself. It went from looky yarny and knit to having a drape and texture that was completely unrelated to what I started with. Totally unexpected, and unexpectedly perfect for the design.

  351. just blocked 2 baby sweaters prior to seaming for the first time ever. i’ve always known it was a good idea but still didn’t bother until now. thanks for making me a better finisher.

  352. OMG! That was so poetic. The whole process is like a dance. Enjoy the blocking as a celebration of your knitting.

  353. Thanks for sharing that. I have found it difficult from a lot of the books I’ve seen to get a real “fix” on what they mean by blocking.
    Your explanation and why you do it makes a lot of sense, and I think I’ll take the time in future!

  354. I do pretty much the same thing as you. But if I am suspicious of the swatch, I might swatch a piece before the entire sweater is finished. Or if the fabric changes significantly with blocking, I’ll block before important shaping (armholes, neck, etc.). It’s comforting to know that I’m in good company.

  355. I do pretty much the same thing as you. But if I am suspicious of the swatch, I might block a piece before the entire sweater is finished. Or if the fabric changes significantly with blocking, I’ll block before important shaping (armholes, neck, etc.). It’s comforting to know that I’m in good company.

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