A Blocking Disaster

I just blocked my Brea bag in preparation for the lining and handle and totally destroyed! :pout: All of the cables have completely lost their plump and definition. The whole thing looks like a matted mess… :verysad: What can I do? Has anyone else had a bad blocking experience?

I find this to occur with almost everything I block…but I’ve continued to do it because I’m a new and naive knitter. And all over the place I read blogs etc about how blocking works “wonders” and how knitters can tell when projects aren’t blocked and how it’s so amateur looking and blah blah blah…So I’ve trusted that and carefully wet block everything (I use Eunny’s tutorial).

And honestly, everything looks like CRAP after I block it! If it’s a flat stockinette piece it grows these weird hairs. And if it has any kind of texture in the knitting–like cables, etc–it’s completely and utterly lost. Just a flat, old tired looking mess. What can I do? I’m tired to destroying these time consuming and sometimes EXPENSIVE projects…only to have them look even more amateur and obviously handmade. There’s only been ONE time that I’ve noticed an improvement with blocking…so my personal numbers are discouraging.

What am I doing wrong? I’m so upset right now because I was so proud of these bag. It was so evenly knit, for me, and the cables looked so lovely. Now it’s just a gross mess:

Compare it to how it looked pre blocking:


Well, I’ve never blocked, but I know you have to be careful about how you block depending on fiber content and so on.

Knitty has a great article that breaks it all down for you. :hug:

Yeah, that Knitty article is one of the ones I was talking about…and I’m very gentle with all my pieces. But they still look like crap. I’m so mad at myself, why didn’t I just leave it!

I don’t have very much experience with blocking, but what if you re-blocked it? Or washed it before blocking it again? And if that didn’t work, maybe taking more extreme measures and throwing it in the dryer to help it regain it’s shape? :shrug:

Maybe Ingrid will happen along with some advice…“Oh, Ingrid…”

It’s 100% wool…a dryer would be a very bad thing indeed. And it can’t be washed, just gently soaked in cold water. It’s still drying right now over some plastic bags. I keep going in to try and plump up the cables but it’s no use…it still looks gross.

:pout: My general attitude toward blocking is this–if it looks good, don’t bother. The best results I’ve had with blocking has been for Fair Isles–they really need it. Eventually, a sweater will have to be washed, so they probably should be blocked, but I’ve worn them unblocked if I thought they looked good.

If a scarf looks fine without blocking, I leave it. If it pulls in too much or is curling in on itself, then I do block it. It’s strictly an individual thing.

I’m sorry you’re disappointed about your bag.


I totally sympathise with seeing all that beautiful work buggered! I know it doesn’t help for this project… but in future, if you want to block, maybe practise on a swatch or two with the same wool, same cables etc.? Then you can decide which one looks best… the unblocked item, the wet-blocked swatch, or the spray and pin swatch (or the steamed swatch…) if you can be bothered doing the extra work.
Maybe you simply don’t like the look of blocked work as much as Eunny and the Knitty guys?

For this one, if you pinned it out while it dried before, here’s what I would do: spray it thoroughly so it is quite damp, maybe even wet it by submerging it and then towel out the extra water, but careful not to stretch it or squash it. Just gently place the towel on it to soak up some extra water. Even if that means it’s quite wet when you put it down. Put it on a smooth surface and DON’T pin it. Leave it to dry. Once you’re sure it’s dry, leave it for another day or two just in case it’s not QUITE dry in the middle. Hopefully that will return it to a state closer to the original (pre-blocking), and give the strands a chance to fatten up and bloom again?

I had a similar problem blocking a Backyard Leaves scarf, I wanted to keep a bit of poofiness but it stretched and flattened entirely. I think we’re all feeling for you xoxo


GOOD IDEA, Sarah! Perfect solution! :notworthy:

By the way, I don’t think her blocked piece looks bad! It isn’t as distinct as the unblocked version, but it really looks good!

I’ve heard good things about steam blocking. If you have an iron that has a steam-release button (you don’t actually want to iron the item) or an actual garment steamer, you could block the garment without soaking it. Annie Modesset swears by it.

Thanks for all the sympathy! :hug:
I need to learn to trust my own opinions about my knitting :doh:

The bag is dry now and it did plump up a little while drying…it doesn’t look as good as it did pre-blocking, but it does look better than when it was first wet. Of course it’s a bag, so it’s gonna get smooshed as I use it.

Now I just have to line it and add the handle. Of course if I know myself (and unfortunately I do!) that’ll take another eon or so for me get around to doing :teehee: .

This is the technique I use, and I have to say, my stuff looks SOOO much better now that I am brave enough to block. I am almost embarassed that I sent stuff out un-blocked before. I do baby stuff though, and there aren’t any cables or raised bits, so it’s a bit easier.


She says in here that if you are doing raised projects, to actually UNpin it while it’s still hot so it can puff back up.

I just make sure to not actually press the iron down. I just let it touch the cloth (you can hear it sizzle! ;)) and lift back up. I really want to get one of those garmet steamers, that would be wicked! I wonder if dh will laugh at me if I ask for one for my birthday!?!? :slight_smile: It’ll be good for his dress uniform too - fewer trips to the dry cleaners!