After putting hours of work into a shawl I know it can be tempting to wrap it around your neck and start wearing it immediately but if you really want to show off your knitting then you’ll want to block it, my favourite bit! It’s like magic and completely transforms a pile of knotty yarn into a beautiful shawl. Blocking 4-ply / fingering weight yarn is not quite as magical as blocking laceweight but it’s still pretty special. The pictures above are of my Gigantic Orchid Thief that I knit during the Orchid Thief KAL we did in October of 2012.
After about 20 minutes, gently scoop out the shawl using both hands being careful to collect it all in your hands. When the yarn is wet it’s much heavier and delicate fibres can be damaged.
Gently squeeze out the excess water before laying it out on a towel. Roll the shawl up in the towel and squeeze it again. I walk up and down on mine so the towel soaks up as much water as possible.
Next, lay the shawl out flat to dry. You could use blocking mats, a spare bed, or the carpet. You’ll probably want to find somewhere you can leave it for a day or so to dry. As it’s a lace shawl it won’t take nearly as long as a sweater to dry, especially if you’ve rolled it up in a towel and stomped out the water.
Pin out the shawl using pins, blocking wires or the String Method. I prefer T-pinsover regular sewing pins as they are stronger and the T shaped head makes them easier to push in when you have tension on the pin. You can get two different types of blocking wires: straight or flexible, both types are useful but not necessary. We have both here in the studio and I quite often use a combination of both for blocking. The flexible ones are really useful for achieving a nice even curve.
Scroll through the photos above for more examples of blocking shawls. Warning spoilers for Follow Your Arrow mystery KAL.
Ta da! Stand back and admire those beautiful stitches! Once your knitting is completely dry carefully remove your pins or wires and wear your shawl with pride. You can click through the photos below to see more blocked shawls but beware of spoilers if you are participating in the Follow Your Arrow mystery KAL.
An alternating cable cast on is a useful, stretchy cast on for ribbing that’s less fussy to work than a tubular cast on. It’s worked like a regular cable cast on, but instead of casting on each stitch knitwise stitches are alternately cast on knitwise and purlwise.
This tutorial includes both step by step photos and videos so you can use whichever suits you better.