Blocking lace with wires--to submerge wool or not?

The owner of my local knitting store told me I need to submerge my lace scarf before putting blocking wires in. The knit picks video on lace blocking says the same. Not to submerge long and only in tepid water. Then it says to roll in towell till damp before putting the wires in.


The instructions that come w/ the wires say to insert wires and then steam the piece(s).

I kind of like the idea of submerging the wool and towelling it. What do you think is best? This is a lace scarf and I need to stretch it both to better display the lace pattern but also to bring to required dimension in length (not so much in width).
Thanks so much.

Zoo Zoo

I don’t make lace often. But here is my take on this. I always wash items before steaming. Cause I don’t want to risk setting in any dirt, hand oils, etc.

The key when washing wool is technique. Don’t wring it, agitate it, use overly hot water, or harsh soaps.

Here is my technique. Fill the sink with lukewarm water. Add a squirt of shampoo or delicate soap. Sloosh to combine soap. Lay in the wool scarf. Leave it sit & soak for 30mins. I takes that long for wool to get fully saturated. Just let it sit there-don’t squeeze, wring etc. It comes clean on it’s own. Drain water, press out excess & refill with clean lukewarm water to rinse. Let that sit for 5mins (you need less time cause wool is already wet.) Drain & repeat til water runs clear. Now gently press out extra water with your hands. Roll in a towel to get it damp dry.

Move to a blocking board. Stretch & pin when damp. Your pins are rust proof right? They should be, but just checking. Let it air dry. Then go back & steam. The steam is to block the stitches & set them in place. The iron doesn’t touch the work. Just the steam.

Hi Abby,
Thank you. I ended up only soaking the lace wool scarf in the basin of tepid water, with a small tsp of wool soap, for about five minutes. I hadn’t seen your post/needed to do it soon to get ready to give as present tomorrow. Anyway, I did not rinse, and I towel dried and then wove the wires in to stretch to the length/width I wanted and I pinned the whole thing onto a sketch of the desired length/width on a white sheet on my daughter’s mattress! Guess I need to buy a blocking board. Poor girl is sleeping in a sleeping bag as the scarf dries on her bed.

Are you saying after it’s totally dry, I still need to steam it. I had always thought it was either/or.

I don’t own a blocking board either. I just make due with what I have.

I learned to block with steam after air drying. It was how I was taught, so it is what I use. I don’t know if will hold the shape as well without steaming.

Hopefully, someone else will chime with their preferences.

As long as the scarf dries completely – and I mean it has to be bone dry, not the tiniest bit damp – before you remove the wires/pins, then it should definitely hold its shape. I think your pattern called for steam-blocking because it’s a lace scarf and because wool tends to become weaker when wet. You were probably advised to submerge, however, because you wanted to add length to your scarf, in which case wet-blocking is your best method. Just remember to be gentle, like Abby mentioned. Actually, from your description it’s obvious you were quite careful :slight_smile: Also, keep in mind that different fibers respond best to different blocking methods. You can wet-block acrylic yarn, but you should spray-block cashmere. The weight of the yarn and the density of your knitted fabric matter as well. Hope that helps!

I soak wool. Wool has a natural tendency to do whats called wicking. Wicking is the process by which wool will actually pull water toward the outside of the fiber. Its one of the things that makes wool such a great fiber. The problem you encounter when it comes to blocking is that you really do have to soak it for a while before it will get all the way saturated.

When I block cotton or certain other fibers I will use a spray bottle because it isnt’ as difficult to get them wet enough to block. Once I wet block something I will go back and steam block it. I find that some fibers can get a little stiff if you soak them and then air dry them, so a quick run over them with the steamer locks in the shape and will soften those stiffer areas just enough to make them lay nicely.

If you can find the alphabet tiles that look like a big puzzle for a child to use for a play area, you can use those. I saw some in my local Sam’s Club for under 10.00. Try looking online also. I got a set of them at Knit Picks. I paid 19.99 for them. I didn’t have the money to buy the ones I saw at my Sam’s Club but when I got paid I went to get them they were gone.

Thanks Daylilydayzed. I never thought to look at foam blocks. Can I steam over them?

I will ask the people at Knit Picks if I can steam a shawl on them, and repost here.

Tonight I got an email from Amber at Knit Picks about steaming on the blocking tiles. She said that the tiles are not heat resistant so do not steam a shawl on them. So if steaming a shawl do it on a surface that can take the heat.