Blocking in Progress
Finishing as an in-process activity
by Jackie E-S
Blocking is something we usually think of as only doing in the final stages of completing a knitting project – usually the very last thing! But have you ever worried while knitting whether you were going to like the outcome? The uncertainty of whether something is going to turn out satisfactorily can be a contributor to the UFO (unfinished object) population! We might never get to the final finishing stage, because we just aren't sure if it is worth it.
For those who believe in the merits of sampling, blocking your swatches is a good way to anticipate the outcome with more reliability. The swatch is a mini-vision of your final project – it is an early indicator of gauge/size, hand and look of the fabric.
But what if you have not swatched? Or did make a swatch, but it was quite small and you want to verify your progress? Or you are concerned partway through your knitting, whether you are on track? That's where "blocking in progress" comes in. Here is how –
Step 1: Knit to a large enough size so as to have a good indication of results.
Typically I will work to a minimum of 8" to 10" length, i.e. the equivalent of a good-sized swatch.
Step 2: Put your stitches on hold.
If the width of the knitting is narrow enough, I often like to use the cable portion of a circular needle that is capable of sustaining a bit of moisture. After the blocking in progress has been completed, it is easy to resume knitting right off the circular needle.
Another method would be to slide the stitches onto a smooth, firm cord. A favorite of mine is braided Dacron trolling line – available in the sports and fishing section of stores.
Step 3: Steam or wet-block the portion of knitting you have done.
This will follow the same basic steps as what you plan to do for the finished article. The main difference is that you will not be blocking to within about 2" of the stitches on hold. Just leave that area alone. It is ok if it gets dampened, but don't stretch and pull on it. Finger block or pin out as necessary per your favorite blocking procedures, then let dry thoroughly.
Here is an example of one of my scarves being blocked in progress. I know someone will ask ... this a scarf being knitted using the #A7 Reversible Lace Cables Scarf pattern.
Step 4: Observe, Feel and Fondle, Measure, Decide
Look at your results. Are they pleasing?
Feel your results. Is the hand of the fabric to your liking? Too dense? Too loose?
Measure the blocked area and cross-check it with gauge, and/or extrapolated final measurements. On target? Or too small/large?
Based on your findings, decide whether it is ok to proceed. If there are doubts, reassess your options. Better to find out now,
than later when the article has been completed. Hopefully it is ok, and you will then have confidence and joy in your knitting
as you proceed.
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