Blocking Your Knitted Lace
If you've knitted a lace shawl, tablecloth, or doily and want the lace
patterns show effectively, you need to block it (look at the before and
after pictures to see how much better the lace looks). Here's how I block
all my lace shawls (and tablecloths, and doilies, and edgings, etc.
-- anything of knitted lace).
Others may do it other ways (check a book on Shetland lace shawls for
pictures of lace shawls tied into wooden frames for stretching), but
here's what I do for all lace scarves, shawls, etc. (be they cotton, wool, alpaca, silk,
or whatever) that need to be blocked out well for the lace to show to best
FIGURES - Rose of England Tablecloth -
during knitting. Note this pattern is not my own design.
FIGURES - Rose of England Tablecloth -
knitting finished, but unblocked (ruler is 24 inches long)
Diamonds and Flowers
Shawl (hankie size) and wedding doily (not my design),
knitted but not blocked.
BLOCKING STEPS --
Find a flat, padded, COLORFAST surface that's big enough for the
project (I use my double bed with white bottom sheet and mattress pad or
my futon sofa-bed with a tablecloth spread over it). You can also
use a carpet or large panels of Styrofoam insulation covered with a sheet
Wash the shawl as appropriate for the fiber, drain and press out excess
water (I roll it in a bath towel, put the towel in the empty
bathtub, then step on the roll to get all excess water out).
Without stretching, gently move shawl from towel into a heap on
the pinning surface.
Gently stretch out the piece (with right side up if the shawl is
not reversible) and determine where the edges will be pinned -- e.g., for
a round shawl, put the center of the shawl in the center of the pinnable
surface; for a triangular shawl, be sure the shawl is positioned so the
long front edge will fit and the point will too (it the shawl is way too
big even for a big bed, try folding it symmetrically in half and pinning
the two halves as if they are one smaller item -- putting all pins through
both layers into the pinnable surface underneath, and then pin the fold
every inch, too).
FIGURE - Unblocked Wedding Doily on blocking surface (futon covered
with tablecloth) with blocking supplies (ruler and/or tape
measure, rustproof pins, spray starch for doilies)
Pin out the edges, pulling as far as easily humanly possible (no
superhuman strength needed here), putting in a RUSTPROOF pin every inch or
so on straight or curved edges or one in each point of a pointed-lace
edge. (I like to use glass-headed pins at least 1.5 inches long)
If the lace is a circle, be sure that the distance from the center to the
edge is the same all the way around (so you have a circle instead of an
oval). If the lace is a square or triangle or rectangle or other
geometric shape, be sure it's still the appropriate shape after it's
pinned (I use a stainless steel ruler or yardstick to measure and be
sure). If there are points on your edging, be sure they are
equidistant apart (I usually eyeball the distance).
FIGURES - Blocking the Wedding Doily, pin out in stages
FIGURE - Wedding doily & Diamonds & Flowers Shawl (hankie-size) fully
Let lace dry COMPLETELY before removing pins. If
at all still damp it will retract to a smaller size and your gorgeous lace
will not show to best advantage. OPTION: Have a ceiling fan or
rotating fan blow over your wet project to dry it quickly in order to
avoid any potential rust marks from pins or color bleeding from the
pinnable surface (this is almost mandatory in humid climates and is also
good in dryer climates) -- I always use a fan.
Take the pins out and Voila!!
FIGURES - Finished lace projects after blocking is completed.
Notice that although the Wedding Doily (left) was pinned out to 24
inches diameter and was totally dry when unpinned, it has shrunk back
to a slightly smaller size. The Rose of England Tablecloth was
entered in my local county fair and won a first prize and a
"Superintendents" award (a step below Grand Champion).
NOTE -- if your project is a lace tablecloth or doily instead of a shawl
and is made of cotton or linen (or similar) I always add one more step --
after step 5, I spray the damp pinned out lace with spray sizing or
starch. Then I store the items gently folded or rolled. For
long storage, wash the item and store unstarched.
P.S. If you look closely, you'll notice that the
round doily at the way top left (not my own design) is not quite a perfect circle (the bottom
right quadrant is a little out of shape). I guess I didn't follow my
own rules well enough -- I think I eyeballed the circular shape instead of