Blocking is a curse word for some of us knitters like swatching.

But as it is often said that hand-knits aren’t truely finished until they are carefully blocked, and never is this more true than with lace. Using tension and moisture on lace sets the drape smooths the fabric and evens out the stitches.

Tips for blocking

  • Do not rub, twist, or wring a hand-knit. Doing so may distort the stitches beyond correction.
  • If you are using yarns with beads or other embellishments, block a swatch first to see how the elements will react. Be careful when handling beaded lace, as the beads could snag or break.
  • Don’t be afraid to stretch knitted lace aggressively during blocking, especially if it is knitted in wool. The draipy, airy texture of lace will emerge under tension, and the yarnovers will open up and define the pattern.
  • Use blocking wires threaded through the edges of the straight sections of lace to maintain an even edge, pins may leave a permanently scalloped edge along an otherwise straight section. Use individual pins to stretch out points or edges to help them set.
  • Allow the blocked hand-knit to air dry completely before moving it.

Steam Method

Steam blocking is most effective on wool and wool blend yarns, which can be stretched and adjusted with even small amounts of moisture. Seam blocking is most safely done by holding an iron a short distance above the surface of the fabric. For best results, use an iron set on the lowest possible steam temperature and follow these simple steps.

Shape the hand-knit by pinning it wrong side up on a padded surface. Hold the iron in a short distance above the fabric, allowing the steam to go through the fibers. Work from top to bottom of the stitches – working side to side may distort them. Allow the fabric to cool and dray, kept away from direct sun or heat before removing the pins. Steam blocking is relatively quick, but there are risks – in addition to the obvious danger of burns, the fabric may be scorched.

Spray Method

Spray blocking works equally well for all fibers, but silk and synthetics require more wetness than wool. Spraying water on a piece allows for total control over temperature, dampness, and finished texture. You can gently pat and shape the piece with your hands while you work. Pin the hand-knit to shape on a padded surface with the right side up. Keep it away from direct sun or heat. Fill a spray bottle with cool tap water and spritz a fine, even mist over the piece. Use your hands to gently pat the moisture into the hand-knit.

Immersion Method

Immersion is appropriate for all fiber types and particularly ideal for fabrics that have taken on a biased slant during knitting. Soak your finished lace in a basin of lukewarm water for about twenty minutes, or until thoroughly wet. Drain the water roll it in dry towels or carry the wet hand-knit in a bundle to the washing machine, and put it through a spin cycle to remove excess moisture. Do not twist or wring it. Shape the piece right side up on a padded surface, using pins and blocking wires as necessary.

Blocking tips from Interweave Laceknits Spring 2012.

I have finished working on the Cameo Shawl, a design by Sharon Miller and published in Rowan Fine Lace.


Before Blocking

Because I have no blocking wires I used the russian (or string) method to block the fabric. After pinning the shawl down on a padded surface I used the Spray Method to moisture it. After about 4 hours of drying this is the result.

cameo 1

cameo 2

cameo 3

cameo 4

cameo 5

cameo 6

cameo 7

Whats on your needles today?

Here are some inspirations for you to knit in lace.

The Diamond Wrap

Diamond Wrap

Diamond Wrap a free pattern from Rowan Yarns. Knitted in Rowan Fine Lace.

The Royal Wrap

The Royal Wrap

The Royal Wrap a free pattern from Rowan Yarns. Knitted using Rowan Fine Lace and Rowan Kidsilk Haze.

The Royal Wrap - Detail

The Royal Wrap – Detail: About 4000 beads are used for this wrap