I hope you have been enjoying our KAL as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you. By now, I hope your lace is building beautifully and you are ready to block and join the pieces. If not, no worries. Our knit alongs are designed to give you access anytime so you can comfortably proceed at your own pace!
In this blog post: Two Must-Know Knitting Tutorials
- Knit Blocking: How to block your completed knitting project
- Joining: How-to Kitchener Stitch for an invisible join
But, before we do anything else we are going to measure one last time to make sure both panels are even. They won’t be exact because one panel will have that extra purl row!
Lay both panels on a flat surface and measure as we did during
. Are your panels close to even?
Excellent, then we’re ready to move on.
How-to Block Knitting
Why should I block my completed project?
Often times, blocking is a matter of personal preference. I don’t always block my projects. For example, the Elizabeth Shawl is not blocked as I wanted a more homespun rustic look with lots of loft. I also did not want to really open up my eyelets.
So, sometimes you’ll block and sometimes you won’t. It will depend entirely on your project, but after today you will be set up for blocking success any time you choose.
Think about blocking as the frosting on the cake, the whipped cream on your ice cream sundae, etc.
Benefits of Knit Blocking
Blocking evens out most stitch imperfections, and allows fibers to bulk out and bloom (this is where your fiber’s halo really starts to shine), and it won’t affect your gauge if you don’t intentionally stretch. You’ll also be able to control and shape the dimensions of your project and even flatten the curling edges on stockinette pieces which can be a wonderful thing.
What are the types of Knit Blocking?
There are 2 types of blocking methods
- Steam Blocking is done with an iron with pressing cloth or a hand held steamer. Steaming is useful for lace and small items. The drawback is you need to do this carefully by lightly lowering and lifting the iron. If you iron back and forth or have too heavy a hand you’ll flatten your fiber.
- Wet Blocking is very different. You will actually be soaking your project pieces in tepid water for 15 minutes (no more), rolling a towel to press out the excess water and then blocking. This is good for large pieces but it can significantly stretch your finished work and it is a little messy.
How I chose a Blocking Method
My biggest concern before I block is that I don’t want to lose the luster of the silk. So I contacted my friends at Fairmount Fibers/Manos del Uruguay to see what they recommend for this fiber.
They suggested a modified Wet Blocking technique. I’m going to show you how to wet block using this modified method now.
Materials Needed for Wet Blocking
- T-Pins aka Dressmaker Pins
- Absorbent Towel (if using the floor or a flat surface)
- Tape Measure
- Spray Bottle
- No-rinse Wool Wash (optional)
- Blocking Board (optional)
- Blocking Wires (optional)
We are going to be blocking on the needles
, so don’t remove them. I’m also not going to have you cut your yarn. Leave your remaining yarn attached (you’ll see why when we come to the join section). If you have too much fiber left over and it’s getting in your way, measure out 4x the width of your panel and then you can cut!
What if you already cut the yarn? Not to worry. We’ll just wet splice the additional length before we start to seam. It will take a few minutes and it’s a nifty trick that you’ll use more than once in your knitting career. Silk Blend, by the way, welds beautifully!
There are a couple of ways to layout your piece to prepare for blocking and I’m going to show you 2 different methods. that I think work really well.
I am using blocking squares that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle allowing you to make the shape you need. I think I’ll need about 3 blocks. I fit my blocks together and laid out my panel and it's just the size I need.
Customizing the Shape
Would you like your Elizabeth longer, wider, or both? Would you like to see wider eyelets and lace? Well, here’s our opportunity to change the entire shape of our piece. You can of course keep Elizabeth at her original shape and size by merely evening out her shape and pinning in place.
Keeping each panel on the needles, measure how wide you think you would like Elizabeth and secure with t-pins on either side. Work down both sides gently stretching as you go. Now do the top. We haven’t removed our needle, so lets use that cable to secure the top with another pin. Do the same at the bottom, elongating your points if you wish. I decided to make mine more prominent, so I’ll gently pull down the rounded points and pin.
Notice anything else in the images? My Elizabeth Scarf has grown. It went from 18 inches to 24" because I gave it a good stretch. It’s also 6½" wide - exactly the size I want. My layout is pinned and completed.
Setting the Shape
Now that I have my panel exactly where I want it, it’s time to set the shape. I’m going to grab an ordinary spray bottle fill it with water and add a couple of drops of a good “no rinse” wool wash. I’m using “SOAK”. Now spray your panel really well. Get it good and wet. An extra added surprise is if you choose a scented wash your project will have that nice scent when it dries. I’ve used "Yuzu" and it smells like citrus for spring. Maybe you might find one with a light floral too. Yummy! OOH! And choose something woodsy for winter holiday gifting.
Now it’s time to let it get good and dry! No cheating, and no poking at it! It usually takes about 24 hours, so don’t unpin until it is bone dry and has no wet wool smell at all.
That’s how you lay out on a blocking board, but how about those blocking wires? Yes, we’ll do that next.
Again, we’ll find a flat padded surface. This time I’m using an ironing board, but you can also use your floor and pin to a rug . It helps to pad your surface (a bath towel works just great) as it will give you a thicker surface and makes pinning easier. That’s optional of course, because as you see from the image below I didn’t this time (just so you could see the process a little better) and it doesn’t affect your blocking process.
Inserting the Blocking Wires
This time you will want to insert your wires first. Slide a blocking wire up one of the long sides of your panel, catching the bumps on the garter stitch rows. Now do the other side. Secure the cable of your needle at the top to the padded surface using the t-pins. Now stretch out to the same length as panel 1. In my case I’m blocking to the maximum my piece will stretch comfortably (24”). Shape the points of the bottom to the pad and pin. Now gently press out the sides to the width of the 1st panel (I had 6½") and pin to the pad, catching the wires. Grab you spray bottle and spritz like crazy just like you did before and let dry.
How-to Invisible Join Knitting with the Kitchener Stitch
So while Elizabeth is drying let's spend our time getting to know the Kitchener Stitch and do a little dry run with some scrap yarn. It'll be fun! Kitchener isn't hard, but it does take a little thinking the first couple of times. I'm also going to show you a handy trick to make this another "No Fear" technique. Hint: You'll have your safety net and if you really really want to do it another way, there is the option of just seaming it together or the three needle bind-off. But as always, I hope you'll give Kitchener a try!
What you'll need:
- 2 pair needles (tip size won't matter)
- Tapestry Needle
- Scrap yarn in a contrasting color
- Practice yarn
Grab 2 sets of needles or a set of double points if you have them (the size isn't important), some practice yarn and 2 lengths of scrap yarn in a contrasting color.
Let's cast on 10 to 12 stitches on each set and work about 3 to 5 rows on each (you'll be ending on a right side row). On the 2nd needle, leave yourself the 3 to 4 times the width and then cut. On the 1st set you can leave a standard tail. You will want your working yarn coming from the back needle.
Now look at the image below. Take a guess at what I'm doing. Yep, you're right it's the Lifeline. I'm going to put one of them on each needle. That way, if I'm not happy with my join in any way I can take out the seaming yarn and start all over without losing my stitches
How-to do the Kitchener Stitch
Ok, here we go. Grab your pattern and locate the Kitchener section. It starts at the top of the last page. Reading the 1st paragraph, pay particular attention to "
make sure your working yarn goes UNDER the needles at all times!"
Take it slowly step by step, and as you are working through the stitches, try to maintain an even (and not too tight) tension.
Thread the needle. Notice as I'm bringing the yarn to the front needle I'm bringing it UNDER the needle.
Bring threaded needle through front stitch as if to purl and
leave the stitch on the needle.
Bring threaded needle through back stitch as if to knit and
leave stitch on needle
Important to remember:
You only do Step 1 and 2 at the beginning of the join. Step 3 and 4 you will repeat until the end.
Bring threaded needle through first front stitch as if to knit and
slip this stitch off the needle.
Bring threaded needle through next front stitch as if to purl and
leave stitch on needle
Step 3 has two parts! Take a look at where my finger is pointing for the second part - make sure you do both!
Bring threaded needle through first back stitch as if to purl,
slip this stitch off the needle.
Bring needle through next back stitch as if to knit, leave this stitch on needle.
Step 4 Has two parts! Make sure you do both!
And that's the Kitchener Stitch. Again, if you haven't done this before be gentle with yourself if you don't get it the first time. Stick with it. After all, you do have your lifeline - didn't I tell you they were handy?
Happy with your practice pieces? Now, it's time to join your Elizabeth.
I've taken my Elizabeth from the blocking boards and removed the blocking wires and this is what it looks like! I just put it up on the mannequin (needles and all) to see how it looks after blocking.
Beautiful blocked edge on Elizabeth Scarf
I've moved thru the Steps 1 - 4 and here is what it should look like. If you're wondering why those tiny clothespins are attached to the cable, see the 2nd tip below. That tip is one of my favorites.
Now I've repeated rows 3 and 4 several times and look how it looks now! Yes! Exactly the way it should look.
Knitting Doctor Tip: As you work through the Kitchener join, lift the completed section with your finger every so often and give it a gentle tug to make sure it doesn't pucker.
Knitting Doctor Favorite Tool: The funny little clothes pins on the image below are actually baby shower favors! You can find them at party supply stores. I clip them on every 5 stitches on each side so I know whether I am completed all the steps of the Kitchener. If I don't have an identical number, I know I missed part of the step! It's almost an essential for seaming with a large number of stitches. Another great use for these baby clothespins is securing a dropped stitch and even use them as movable markers for double points.
Here is Elizabeth, all blocked, joined and ready to wear. The two images below show the front and back sides of the join.
Completed Kitchener Stitch Join, front
Completed Kitchener Stitch Join, back I'm very pleased with the finish results of my Elizabeth Scarf and I'm excited to see yours! Don't forget to post your project on our Ravelry group page and keep your eyes peeled for our next knit along. Thank you everyone for being part of the Elizabeth KAL! I hope you had fun, crafted a beautiful Elizabeth and learned a thing or two!
Happy Knitting until next time,