Even when we are extra careful to make our projects neat, the knitted fabric is never perfectly even right after we finish our hats, socks, mittens and sweaters (or whatever else we are making).
Some stitches are often a little bit bigger than the rest of the stitches and that gives the fabric a slightly messy look.
This small imperfection is easily fixed by blocking, but we need at least 24 hours to properly block a knitted project.
What if we don’t have that much time or simply don’t want to wait that long? If you’ve ever finished a knitted gift hours before you have to present it, or if you’ve ever wanted to put a new sweater on right after you bound off stitches, you’ll know what I mean 🙂
In these and other “emergency” cases, we can use dry blocking to make our knits if not perfect, but at least considerably better looking.
All it takes is a few minutes and three simple steps.
If you prefer to learn from a video tutorial, click here, or scroll to the bottom of this page to watch an embedded version of the video.
We start by pulling the fabric sideways.
If the project is small, like a narrow scarf, simply grab the edges and pull them in opposite directions.
If the project is wide (for example, a blanket), or is worked in the round (for example, a seamless sweater), fold the sides of the fabric leaving around 20 cm / 8″ between the folds. Then grab the folds and pull them in opposite directions.
Once you do that, make new folds to stretch the next segment of the fabric. Keep going until the whole width of the project is nicely stretched.
Work like that through the length of the project until every stitch of the fabric is pulled sideways.
Now, we’ll pull every stitch of the fabric lengthwise.
Pull the cast on and bind off edges in opposite directions if the project is short (for example, a cowl or a mitten), or pull segments of the fabric by making folds if the project is long.
This time, we’ll make horizontal folds and we’ll work through the whole project until every stitch is stretched lengthwise.
After you perform the first two steps, you will notice that your project looks much neater than it did just moments ago.
But some stitches could still be a bit uneven. That’s why we need one more step.
To even out the “stubborn” stitches, pull the neighbouring stitches to redistribute the yarn and make the stitches more uniform. We can do it with our fingers, or with a wool needle.
For example, to make the big stitch in my test swatch smaller, I pulled the left leg of the stitch at the right side of the big stitch and the right leg of its neighbour on the left.
To make the stitches even more consistent, pull this part of the fabric sideways as we did in step 1. Then pull it lengthwise as we did in step 2.
Repeat step 3 to even out all “stubborn” stitches in your project.
Now your project is almost perfect and you can confidently wear it or present it as a gift.
This technique works for any fibre and any stitch pattern, but the result is not as good as the one we get with wet blocking. So if you have the time, it is always better to block your knitted creation with water or steam, especially if your project is worked in a lacy pattern.