We so close to being able to WEAR OUR SWEATERS! Isn't it amazing? Can you imagine yourself in it? Do you have a first outfit picked out for it?
My answer is yes to all of these questions!
Blocking a sweater is easier than it seems. I think blocking a shawl is more challenging since they often want you to use a ton of pins and blocking wires to create a specific shape. In the case of the Carbeth Cardigan we're just going to get it fully saturated, lay it out correctly and then let it dry. Letting it dry completely is the hardest part because I just want to get in there and put it on.
How to block a hand-knit sweater
- A bucket large enough to hold enough water to fully submerge your sweater.
- Wool wash such as Soak.
- 3-4 large towels. I use what I call "dog towels" which are the old spare towels we all keep around for the day the dishwasher leaks. However, even if you don't have old towels you can safely use your normal towels with Ewe Ewe yarns. Our yarns are 100% washable and the colors don't run so there's no fear of color bleed.
- Blocking mats or trash bags. Weird combo, I know but you'll see!
- Straight pins if desired. I didn't end up using them but you may want to.
- An empty area your dog won't be.
To prepare your sweater for blocking you should have all the buttons attached and the ends woven in. A trick I learned from The Unapologetic Knitter is to weave in the yarn ends but not trim the tails until after the project is finished drying. Trimming the ends after blocking allows the yarn ends to get comfortable in their new home and you can trim them off on the inside of the sweater after it's dried. This helps prevent any strange poking ends!
Set your sweater in the bucket and add a bit of wool wash. Fill the bucket with water to cover the sweater. Your sweater may float but you can gently continue to submerge it until it stops bubbling. Leave it to rest in the water for about 15-20 minutes.
What's wool wash? I use Soak which is a rinse-free laundry soap that smells great. You can just block your sweater with water but adding a wool wash helps soften the fibers even more.
When the timer's done gently drain the water from the bucket being as gentle to your sweater as possible. Do not wring out or lift your sweater. Hold the sweater to the edge of the bucket and pour out the contents.
Lay down 2 towels on a hard flat surface and roll the sweater out onto them. Your sweater will be very wet and it's going to feel a bit like you're wrestling an octopus. Position it on the towels so it looks pretty reasonable.
Add a third towel and begin to roll the sweater in the towels pressing firmly and rolling tightly. This method will gently wick the water out of the sweater without misshaping it.
Now, the final step! Setting your sweater to dry. If you have blocking mats this is the time to use them. I don't own any, I'm not sure why I don't, I just haven't bought them yet. However! I did learn a good tip from an Drea Renee Knits pattern -- if you don't have blocking mats use trash bags instead. It doesn't sound very glamorous but I'm giving it a try. The idea is that by pinning out your project on plastic the water will be forced to evaporate upward and into the air. If you just set it on a towel on carpet the moisture could linger down below. By adding the bags we're hoping for a faster drying time!
Arrange your sweater with the buttons buttoned and the bands set in place. Arrange the collar so it's straight. Lay the decrease lines so the are perfect angles from the neck to the underarm. There is no need to stretch or warp anything here, just gently work your way around the sweater smoothing it to wear it needs to be.
It may seem a bit droopy but that is because of all the water the yarn is holding. Baa Baa Bulky yarn, and all Ewe Ewe yarns, really bounces back after it's been blocked. The gaps and strange sections will gradually fill in and come to life as the sweater dries. Now we wait...
It's important to let your sweater DRY. Completely dry. It's hard to do but give it time because the result is worth it.
How was it? Did you finish?
How did you do on your Carbeth Cardigan? Did you have fun? Did you finish your sweater? Send me a picture!
Check in online on Instagram with the hashtags #BaaBaaCarbeth and #EweEweKAL. Follow @eweeweyarns on Instagram now! Plus you can join my Ewe Ewe Yarns Ravelry group if you like that type of thing. Whichever!
Email me if you have any questions! (It's always me on the other side of that form.)