how to block a square

I’m currently working on the Pop Blanket and thought I’d share my suggestions on blocking techniques and specifically address the square blocks used for this project. Almost every project benefits with blocking, whether its opening up lace stitches or just getting the fabric to lay more smoothly. Or, alternatively, to better define stitches or ruffles. First rule of thumb is to see what the ball band says for the yarn regarding washing to make sure its a yarn that can be wet (in this suggested method I’m using wet blocking as it is the best method for this project.) I’ve got a whole pretty chart made up with yarn types of blocking methods, but I’m gonna sit on that for a future post, right now I’m just focusing on squares made for the Pop Blanket.

The suggested yarn is wool. If you should choose an acrylic yarn I highly suspect you will not get very good results. Why? Because that yarn simply will not block out very well and its HIGHLY critical for these squares because of how they are made. It may be possible to get cotton or a blend to work, but I really think a wool or wool blend (something with elasticity) is going to be best for this particular blanket. Just trust me. If you really want to use one of these less blockable yarns, I’d suggest you do a couple in your preferred yarn and make sure it’s going to work before you commit to too much.

That said, here’s my little tutorial for blocking these sweet babies. When you finish knitting the square, you may be quite concerned, nervous even, about how curled and rippled it looks. Don’t worry, we’ll fix it 🙂

Start by soaking the square in cool water (try not too agitate it too much so you can avoid possible felting if you yarn is not superwash.)

Squeeze out the water as best you can, then lay it flat on a dry towel, then roll it up and squeeze out the remaining excess.

Find the first corner you want to pin. When looking at these blocks if you aren’t sure you can count the rows and make sure its got the longest section of the MC (FYI- my examples below have two extra rows of white than called for in the pattern- just because!) Place the pin at an angle so that the BO sts lay flat to make finishing easier.

Now you can pin the next corner. My suggestion with this specific pattern, do not overblock. With a dishcloth you can typically stretch it way out, however, because this pattern uses short rows, I found that if I stretch the squares too much a) the “flat” sections without short rows get stretched too much and b) the short rows start to show holes even if you’ve tried to hide them.

Next, measure that edge, pin the other two corners so they all have the same approximate length. (TIP: I use gingham fabric on my blocking board and can just count the squares rather than deal with a ruler!)

You can now go along and pin down the rest of the edges. As you work you WILL discover you need to stretch (or smoosh) the fabric to a better form/shape/size. Take the pins out and readjust as you go. When you think you are done, THEN really take a ruler and make sure everything measures up the same. Write down this number if you need to, this will be your default size for all the rest of the blocks.

The next block you pin out you will simply need to use the measurements from the first rather than experimenting with the size.

I also found that my color sections didn’t always look perfectly the way I wanted them, probably because of all the stretching and smooshing. So I use a few pins to get those to look nice and circular.

It is pretty important to block each square before you seam them together. It’ll help you work with the fabric more easily and the seams will look much cleaner and more even.

Oh and yes, now that you have the squares pinned on your blocking board its time to work on another square or project while these dry. I have been known to point a small fan at my blocking board to help speed things up.


One thought on “how to block a square

  1. Pingback: POP!! blanket tutorial « Tin Can Knits

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