You hear it time and time again. It's important to knit a swatch and block it. Some knitters do. Some knitters don't. I was never a swatcher and most definitely never, ever blocked until a few years ago. Now I always block. I am amazed at the wonders of blocking. Look at the pictures of my Boy Scout Blanket BEFORE blocking:
Here's last night's picture immediately after I finished knitting the blanket and before it was blocked. I was more than a little worried as I thought it was taller than I liked and not as wide as I would have preferred. Fortunately, I am a convert to the wonders of blocking - so I knew I could fix this in the blocking process.
I'm a fan of the wet blocking method. I use my kitchen sink filled with lukewarm water and some delicate laundry detergent made for handknits. I let my blanket soak for 20-30 minutes to really relax all the fibers. Then I rinse it thoroughly several times to ensure all the detergent is out of my blanket. I press the remaining water (never, ever wring!) and wrap my handknit project in a beach towel - the largest towel I own. I press the water out again - by this time, the beach towel is soaked. Then I head to the basement where I have a work table and a pool table with a plastic cover. Whichever surface is free is destined to be my blocking spot.
Today, the work tables happened to be clear, so that's where I blocked the blanket. I squished it a little bit lengthwise and stretched it a little bit across making it shorter and wider. Remember you can only really stretch the fibers one way or the other - but not both. I was very happy with the dimensions once I had them blocked.
I especially like how relaxed and flat everything looks once it's blocked. It's sort of like taking a button-down shirt out of the dryer and wearing it immediately versus ironing it first before wearing it. Don't you agree?
Now I think this blanket has a day or two of drying before I can give it a final photo shoot. I'll have to find a friend with a baby to participate in my photo shoot. Hmmmm....