Lace SwatchesYou make swatches right? For every project? I know, I know… It seems like SUCH a hassle. And really what difference does blocking make? Well if you what to improve the appearance of your knitting, it can make a BIG difference.

If you don’t make swatches already, today is a great time to start! You want to make your swatch out of the same fiber you plan for your final project. This will help you see any possible problems ahead of time. Like BEFORE you invest days or weeks of time, and your hard earned money creating your gorgeous masterpiece.

Although it may seem annoying to create a swatch or sample, it can save you a great deal of time and frustration down the road.

Benefits of making a swatch:

  • It will tell you how the fiber works with your planned stitch.
  • You get an idea of the drape of the knit fabric.
  • Tells you if the fiber will hold up for its intended purpose.

Simply knit a square at least 4 inches in the same stitch pattern you intend to use. Because stockinette stitch can curl on its own, it helps to add a border of the garter or seed stitch. If you are using cables, lace, etc… in addition to stockinette or garter, include them. The point is to do a sample of the stitches used in your final project.

You will then block it by using the appropriate method. Be sure to check the yarn’s ball band for care information.

Benefits of blocking a swatch:

  • Tells you if the color in fiber will run.
  • You get to witness the drape and feel of the knitted fabric.
  • Tells you if fibers will shrink or stretch out of shape.

Basic methods of blocking:

  1. Spray Blocking – Gentlest of all the methods and works well for more delicate fibers. Pin swatch into shape and gently use a spray bottle to add moisture to the fibers.
  2. Wet Blocking/Immersion – Soaking your item in water, shaping, then allowing to dry. Works well with animal fibers, especially when using a lace stitch.
  3. Steam – Shape and add moisture to your item with steam from an iron or steamer. Cotton work well with this method. Do not use on human-made fibers. Do not touch your iron directly to the fiber, instead float the steam just above the surface allowing it soak into the fibers.

Blocking swatchesOnce you know the method you will try:

  • Select a surface to apply the blocked item, one that is appropriate to pin the item down and allowed to dry. Blocking mats, furniture, carpeted floor, or a quilted surface often work well.
  • Enough stainless steel pins to shape the swatch.
  • A clean, dry, safe location to leave the item to air dry for approximately 24 hours.

This post discusses just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to blocking. Test things out and see what methods work best for you and your knitting needs.

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