Tip of the week: Use pins and wires to help block lace
Nov 30, 2021
Lace seems to be what most knitters associate with blocking. It generally requires a particular blocking method and some tools to get the best results.
A lace project rarely looks that great when it comes off the needles – it’s usually a bit scrunched up rather than looking floaty and ethereal.
To turn it into the finished item you will need something to pin your shawl out on, a lot of pins and if possible some blocking wires.
A lot of people use foam matts as the base for their blocking and I recommend T-pins – these a more robust than sewing pins and easy to see as you adjust your piece.
Collect your pins, wires, matts, measuring tape etc before you do anything else – juggling wet knitting while you look for the measuring tape isn’t that much fun.
Blocking wires are often the item that make people nervous. They are simply flexible wire rods that you can thread through your knitting. The main type are straight and unsurprisingly very helpful when you want to block one or more straight edge – thread them through your straight edge and then use a few pins to place each edge. You can also find finer wires that naturally sit in a curve.
The first step in the wet blocking process is to get your piece wet. Soak it in warm water – and no rinse wool wash if you want – for at least 15 minutes.
Once your knitting has soaked, lay a towel on a flat surface. Gently lift the knitting out of the water – let water drain off but DO NOT wring it out. Gently put your knitting on the towel keeping it as flat as possible. Roll the towel to create a knitting swiss roll and then gently squeeze it to draw the water out of your lace. You will end up with a damp but not dripping piece of knitting where the fibres have been thoroughly wetted through.
Then you are ready to lay out your knitting on your blocking surface. I generally start by threading the wires through the straight edges and pinning those in place then I work on curves, the points on edges etc.
so I’ve run a wire along at that point and then I am using pins
beyond that to open the lace border with a pin at the top
of each “leaf”.
semicircle and then pinned the curve at the halfway and then
the quarter way point, and so on, to help get the curve right.
Don’t remove the pins or wires until you are sure your shawl is dry.