Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How Do You Block Your Patterns?
This is the number one question I get asked all the time!
So I thought I'd put together a little slide show tutorial which actually turned out to be not so little when it was all said and done...lol!
Before starting here's the things you will need:

1. bath towel
2. cooling rack
3. crochet hook
4. knitting needle
5. water spray bottle
The crochet hook isn't an essential but I find it works real good to get in the little places that need to be flattened.
You will notice throughout the tutorial that I refer to the dishcloth pattern as the cotton piece. I say cotton piece because these blocking instructions will work well for any cotton dishcloth, placemat or towel with a picture on it.
1) Fold the bath towel in half and then in half again so you have a nice cushy bottom. The reason for the folded bath towel is so that you have a thick base so that when you push the background stitches of your Dishcloth down, it kind of makes the picture or letter stitches of your piece embossed or puffed up.
2) Lay your cotton piece down on top of the folded bath towel.

3) Now flip the piece over and give the back a good spray.

4) Turn it over and do the same to the front of your piece.

5) Now give a little tug all around to try and get your piece all nice and straight around the edges. Sometimes I find a ruler works as a good straight edge when doing this.

6) Okay, now I usually work from the inside of my piece, out. It's not crucial but that's just how I do it.

7) What you want to do is push down in a stamping motion on all your flat (stockinette) stitches with the back of your knitting needle. I start along one edge and work my way around, moving to the center as I go along, in this case we're working on the top of Little Garden Boy's hat.

8) Now move on down to the rest of the hat and do the same thing, getting those stockinette stitches nice and flat. You will start to notice because of the cushy bottom from your bath towel, the bumpy (garter) stitches standing out more.

9) If you get a stubborn stitch that just doesn't want to be pushed down like this one, just push it down with the pointy part of your needle and tell it to stay!

10) Now, doing the same thing with the pointy part of your needle, move on down the backside of Little Garden Boy.

11) Okay, see those itty bitty stubborn stitches along both sides of his arm? Get your needle and start poking! You can pretend he's your little voodoo doll!

12) Now you're going to want to flatten his tummy with the back of your knitting needle. Don't you wish getting a flat tummy was just that easy?

13) Move around flattening his backside with your needle.

14) Now you'll see his body taking shape. I find it's kind of like when you did colouring pages as a kid and you outlined everything in marker before filling it in with crayon...well, that's how I used to colour anyway.

15) Okay, now make your way around the outside of him with the point of your needle.

16) All the way around...

17) If you've got a line of stitches like this one down his back, you can just press down with the side of your needle on both sides of that line...

18) ...as well as the bottom stitches of his boot.

19) After you've made it all the way around him you can flip your needle around and start flattening the rest of the stockinette stitches with the back of your knitting needle.

20) Now everything is done except for his little watering can and the flowers along the side borders.

21) So let's start with the watering can.

22) This is where the end of the crochet hook works well. Push down those stockinette stitches inside the watering can's handle.

23) Now we'll work on the little flowers.

24) See those single stitches that make up the flower? Get your knitting needle and stick the pointy end right inside one of those stitches.

25) Now lift up on it while holding your piece down with the other hand...don't worry about how hard you pull up on that stitch, it goes back down. We just want to make it pop up a bit more than it is.

26) Okay, now all the loops of the flower have been pulled up with the point of my needle so now get your crochet hook and push the end of it right in the middle of those loops.

27) You can use the crochet hook for the middle of the stem of the flower as well.

28) Now get your knitting needle and make a nice little "X" with it in between those loops of the flower.

29) Press the side of your needle alongside the diagonal stitches of the flower's stem.

30) Flatten any surrounding background stitches and voila!

31) Looking at both flowers (bottom flower is done but the top one hasn't been blocked yet) doesn't seem like it makes much of a difference but believe me it does! The difference is all in the drying of your piece. That's when you'll notice all your hard work!

32) Now you're going to want to very gently pick up your blocked piece and lay it on your cooling rack. I choose to use a cooling rack so everything dries evenly. If you're in a real hurry for it to dry, you can also stick a fan in front of it... the moving air will dry it in no time at all!

Here is Little Garden Boy all finished, blocked and dried!
Now I couldn't imagine having to block a dishcloth after every use of it but when giving as a gift I always like my cloths to look as pretty as they can be for their recipient...it makes a big difference :o)
Enjoy and I hope you find this info helpful with your next project!
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