Blocking - Why Do It?
There are a ton of blocking tutorials online, but a few people asked about it after I posted that I was blocking, so I thought I would join the club and write about it, too. In case you don't know what "blocking" is, it is a finishing process where you steam, spray or soak a knit or woven piece or pieces so that you can stretch or redistribute the stitches/fabric. The most asked question was why I block because it seems like an unnecessary pain. I block to shape items, to make them softer, to make the fabric expand and settle a bit. Here is an example of squares for a quilt I am knitting before and after blocking. The before is the dark purple on the left and the after are the pink squares on the right. The difference is astounding!
I don't block absolutely everything. With knitting, I block anything that needs to be shaped, including sweaters, anything that has curled while knitting, any garments that I am giving to a child and anything that needs to be made to a certain size. With weaving, I generally soak the item first or wash it on gentle cycle in the washing machine and then dry it on the lowest setting in the dryer. If you weave towels or other heavy use items, it's generally ok to wash the items and dry them however you would normally do so. Depending on what fabric you use, each strand of the woven item may get a bit plumper which leads to a more satisfying cloth look. With this piece I thought the weave was not tight enough until I washed it:
I am working on a tutorial with a bit more detail about blocking items and will post it later this week.
Update: For more information, check out Blocking - How to Do It