How to Block Your Knit & Crochet Shawls Like a Pro

Since we’ve declared this the Summer of Shawls, today we'll share some tips to help you master the ultimate step in finishing those shawl projects: blocking. Blocking is the simple step of washing your finished shawl (or any finished project) and then allowing it to dry. The benefit of blocking is that it evens out any tensioning issues in your stitches, opens up lace and other patterning, removes oils from your hands transferred during the knitting process, and makes your finished project look ten times better overall!

Today we'll cover two of the most popular methods, steam blocking and wet blocking.

Steam Blocking

This method sets the stitches just as well as wet blocking, without the worry of stretching out your finished piece due to the weight of a waterlogged item. For hand-dyed yarns, steam blocking increases the longevity of both the color and the fibers. You can use an iron or purchase a dedicated hand-held steamer for this process; simply lay your piece on a prepared surface such as an ironing board or a clean table. Pin in place, then hold your iron or steamer directly above the piece so that the steam can penetrate the fibres. Allow your piece to dry completely before you remove the pins.

IMPORTANT: Do not let the iron touch your fabric - this will damage the fibers!

Wet Blocking

This method is useful for removing anything that may have gotten on your projects as you worked on it, and is particularly ideal for reshaping a finished piece. Note that yarn is not unlike clothing in that the more it gets washed with soap the more it will fade, so please wash sparingly and only when needed.


Step 1: Washing

Some yarns say "machine wash," which you can do if you prefer but please bear in mind that hand washing always increases the longevity of your project!

Fill a clean sink, bucket, or basin with lukewarm water. We like to add just a smidge of heat to the water to loosen any oils or dirt that might be lurking in a finished item, but prefer not to go too much beyond lukewarm. Next, add some of your favorite wool wash.

Gently add your project to the water. We like to press the project into the water softly and make sure it is entirely submerged. Don’t add too much agitation - just enough to get your project good and wet. Let your project soak for 5 minutes or less.

Remove your project from the water and squeeze gently to remove excess water. The key here is being gentle; don’t wring or twist your knit. If you have a clean towel nearby, you can roll your project into the towel and squeeze gently again to remove more excess water.

Lay flat to air dry using the instruction in Step 2: Blocking below.

Step 2: Blocking

Now that your project or garment is clean, let’s talk about blocking it! Essentially, all you are going to do here is determine how best to arrange your knitted or crocheted item so that it will dry in the shape you wish. Different projects will require different methods; we’ll do our best to cover all of them below.

First, find a good place where you can block your project. You will want an open, flat surface that curious pets and/or children are unlikely to discover. We find that the floor in a non-trafficked area is usually a good place to block; if you don’t have a good floor space to block, you can also use counter or table tops, or any flat surface (the bed in the guest bedroom, the dining room table, etc.).

If you are using pins to block your project (and in most cases you will want to use pins to hold the project in place!), you will need a porous surface underneath your project that you don’t mind sticking pins into such as our Blocking Mats.

Once you have decided where you would like to block your project, lay it out gently in the shape you wish to block it into. At this point you’ll need to decide how aggressively you want to block your project: some patterns will provide a schematic with finished dimensions which you can refer back to as you lay out your piece, using a tape measure to ensure correct dimensions have been achieved. You may have some personal preferences that inform your blocking approach as well.

For projects with lots of lace, blocking wires are a good investment. These thin, flexible wires can be threaded through the edges of your knitting and then pinned taut. This will open up your lace and enable you to create straight (or curved) edges in your finished garment. If your project doesn’t have a large amount of lace, or you don’t wish for super defined edges, you can use rust-resistant T-pins or our Rainbow Knit Blockers to secure edges as you arrange your project to dry. Generally, we lay the project out in the shape we want it to be, and then pin every 4-6 inches to achieve the desired shape. If your project has a lace edging, or ends with a picot or crocheted bind off, you may wish to accentuate the edges by pinning them into place. For instance, in the picot edging of this shawl, we might want to pin out each picot to create a pretty, open border.

We hope that these tips and tricks above have helped you navigate blocking your projects. We can’t wait to see what you create, and don't forget to enter our Summer of Shawls Photo contest, happening in our Ravelry group and social media channels! Simply share a photo of how you are styling your knitted and crocheted shawls this summer in this Ravelry thread OR on social media using the #knitterspride and #kpshawlstyle hashtags. You may post as many photos as you like, and while photos do not necessarily have to include Knitter's Pride shawl pins, we would love to see how you are using them to style your shawls!

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