When you have finished knitting it is then time to block your knit. How you block will depend on the project type you have created. The purpose of blocking is to even out your stitches and make your finished knit as attractive as possible. For plain stockinette (stocking) stitch you want to pin the edges to prevent curling and even the stitches. For cables blocking will allow uneven stitches in the cables to straighten out. You do need to take care not to stretch the cables too much however. When blocking lace you will have the most dramatic difference. Lace is unimpressive until blocked. You stretch it very far and pin it which opens it all out and totally changes the fabric.
Main blocking techniques:
- Wet Blocking
- Steam Blocking
With wet blocking you soak your knit in a wool wash with lukewarm water. When it's been soaking for at least 30 minutes you will gently press it out between towels to remove the excess water. Do not wring it out! If you have control over your washing machine spin cycle you can also use this at a very low setting. Take great care though as if you spin to vigorously you will felt your garment.
Now you need to open out your knitting and even out your stitches. For most knitting you just smooth it out and pin the edges to stop it curling. For lace knitting you will have to stretch it out (using pins and blocking wires) to really open it up and create an attractive lace finish.
My preference is for wet blocking but if you are in a hurry or if you want to block, to check the length, as you work then steam blocking is very useful. You can use either a special steamer or else the steam setting on your iron (without touching the fabric).
You can pin one end of your work and then gently stretch out your work as you steam it, pinning it in place when it's finished. As it only gets slightly damp it is much faster than wet blocking.