Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blocking Lace- Part 1

I finished knitting the snowflake doily last week and thought I would take this opportunity to take pictures as I block it. No matter how many times I knit lace and block it, I'm still amazed at the transformation a little water and tension cause.

Everybody seems to have their own favorite way to block lace. This is how I do it lately.

My blocking board is a piece of foamcore. You can get it cheaply and easily in 20x30" sheets or 32x40" sheets. This is a small one. Since this doily had 6 repeats, I used a board divided into 6, then 12 sections. If you use a sharpie the marks won't rub off. I made a mark every inch along each line (the center point is zero, 1" mark is 1" from center, etc.) so I can stretch it out evenly. I mark each 5th inch mark with the number of inches so I don't have to count too much. You can put marks for different numbers of repeats on either size, so for instance on this particular board I can block things with 6 or 12 sections on one side and 5 or 10 sections on the other. I just make them as I need them, then use them over and over.

So you get a bunch of t-pins (a big bunch, you'll need one for every cast-off loop), find the center of the doily, put a pin through it and stick the pin through the center point on the board, where all the lines come together. This keeps it centered as you stretch the doily and add pins. Also lets you know if you've gotten it a bit wonky. I've tried the flower pins, but they are a bit on the wimpy side and tend to bend. T-pins are much sturdier.

This doily has 6 main sections so I found the same point on all 6 sections and pinned them out. For this one I used the center of the edge frill right at the corners of the lacy part. Eachone is different and you can pick any spot you like, but it's easier if you choose the center of something. You want to put a pin througha bit of knitting right on the edge, or a chain stitch loop, and pull it towards you a comfortable amount. No need to pull it very tight, just get the slack out of it plus a little. Check which inch mark you are near and try to keep them all the same distance from the center. If you start out too tight (while there is only tension in one direction) it will be hard to keep the tension even as you pin out the rest of it (when there will be tension in several directions). Angle the pins a little bit away from the center so they hold tight and the knitting doesn't slip towards the t section.

Next pin out a point halfway between the first points. In this design there was another edge frill on the center of the straight edge, so I used that. This set of pins doesn't need to be pinned at the same distance from the center as the first set, but all of the pins in this set need to be at the same distance as the others in this set. For a round or square doily, anyway.

Next you pin out a spot between the first set and the second set, right in between them if you can. This doily has sticking stitch points, so that choice is easy. This set doesn't have to be the same distance out as the other sets, but they should be the same distance as each other.

Now it's time to pin out the individual loops. Start next to the points you have pinned out and work out towards the others. Once the 2 loops in either side of an original pin are placed you can remove the original pin if you like. You can pull the lace a bit farther out or release a little tension at this point to enhance the over all effect, or if you are not happy with the choice you nade earlier. You can decide, based on the design and what you see in it, to make the edges curvy or straight, or ?. This one had such a geometric feel to it that I've decided to reinforce that by pinning out the edge frill to make an angle.

At this point, I've gone through the first box of pins and need to find the other one before I can proceed any further.


  1. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial. It never ceases to amaze me how lace can go from a shriveled dishcloth to "glorious"...and the color of yours is stunning.

  2. That's a really clever way to block a circular lace piece! Beautiful work, too.