Don’t Knock It Till You Block It!

Don’t knock it till you block it, a very important lesson that I learnt during my most recent knitting project.

My most recent knitting project was the Marshall Shawl by Deborah Frank (ObliviousKnits). I really wanted a three colour pattern which had wedges as I had three skeins of my favourite handdyed yarn and wanted to knit them up together.

I had been searching high and low for such a pattern when I stumbled upon the Marshall Shawl. Just to reinforce that it was the right pattern there was 50% off 😉 meant to be!

The pattern recommends a size 4mm needle but states that if you wish to have a more open fabric you can go for a 4.5mm, I decided to go for the 4mm. I found the 4mm needle gave my a very squishy fabric which I loved!

About halfway into the knit I began to regret my pattern choice, my yarn was even squishier once I had knitted a large amount and so the shawl appeared half the size of the ones on Ravelry, I was becoming less and less happy about the squishiness of my knitting now. I wasn’t sure what to do, should I rip out and knit on the 4.5mm? But I had already cut the yarn of the first three wedges. I got myself in a right state at this point about the sizing but decided to carry on and see how things looked once I had completed the shawl. I cast off and at this point was still unconvinced about my yarn and needle choice but I decided to block instead of throwing the shawl on my “I’m not sure what I think of this pile” as it was a nice sunny day.

I washed the shawl and began to block, immediately the shawl grew! My garter stitch became more open and the definition of my wedges and stitches increased. I cannot tell you the relief I felt! I went from the anguish of having used my favourite skeins for something that I was not liking to relishing in the joy of having created something that made me smile out of my favourite skeins of yarn.

When I started knitting I always read comments about blocking, about how a garment was not finished until it was blocked, you didn’t see the stitches until you blocked, if you have any funny stitches they will block right out, the comments go on. Although I had knitted lace and experienced the change in pattern definition from unblocked to blocked I did not acknowledge the full weighty effect that blocking had on a knitted garment, especially a garment which was knit in plain stitches such as stockinette or garter.

I was far to quick to write off this project before I had blocked it, seen the true effects of blocking  and had revealed the ‘true garment’.  I am a true believer that if you love a pattern and you love the combination of yarn that you are using you should love the end result, sometimes we need to tweak those combinations or reshuffle but if you have experimented with them and set your heart on them you should be pleased with the end result (I am sure however that there are a few people out there who would disagree and I acknowledge that this is not always the case). Next time that I knit a project I will consider my yarn, needle and pattern choices just as carefully but I will refrain from full judgement of my project until I have blocked, if I reach blocking and still do not like it then I have a problem 😛 I would encourage you to do the same, do you have any half finished projects that you dumped because they weren’t quite turning out the way you thought they would? Have another go at them, cast them off and give them a block, if you still do not like them at least you will be one project down and no doubt one of your friends will love it 😉

For trips and tricks on blocking have a look at this blog by Craftsy. As you grow with your knitting you will develop your own methods for blocking but it always good to have a point of reference to start at and I found this blog had some handy insights.

Before my quandary of ‘do I still like this shawl’ I really enjoyed knitting the Marshall Shawl pattern. It is very easy to follow and there are an unlimited variety of ways you could use colour within the pattern. It is a pattern that I would highly recommend! If you want to know how I dealt with my short rows you can also take a look at my project notes here.

Happy knitting all and remember next time you come across a project you are not liking the way you thought you would, try not to knock it before you block it 😉


X Hope



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