How to Block a Scarf You Can Be Proud Of

Let’s start with why you should block your knitting. “The Knitting Answer Book” by Margaret Redcliffe summarises it into five reasons:

  1. Reduce curling, straighten edges and make sewing up easier.
  2. Get rid of slight variations in length or width between two pieces that should match.
  3. Open out a fabric, such as lace, to show off the patterning.
  4. Smooth the surface of the knitting and make the stitches more even.
  5. Adjust the shape of the finished garment or reshape it after washing.

You can see how this is demonstrated in my before and after photos of the my Asherton Reversible scarf below.

Before & After
Knitted Asherton Scarf WIPAsherton Reversible Scarf

There are many ways to block knitting depending on the item you’re blocking and what yarn you use. The most common ways are misting, steaming and wet blocking. The method below is wet blocking. I’m by no means an expert but I have successfully blocked several knitted wool scarves and shawls this way. I hope this tutorial helps beginner knitters overcome the fear of blocking and guide them through the procedure . It really isn’t that hard! :)

HOW TO BLOCK A KNITTED SCARF

You’ll need wool detergent, a sink, washing machine, pillow case, a large flat surface like a bed and rust-proof pins.

1. Wash
Fill tub or sink with warm water and add a little wool detergent. (Check the bottle label for exact measurement.) Soak scarf in warm soapy water for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, roll the scarf gently while still in the water and pick it up in your hand. Make sure to support it well. Place aside.
Soaking Knitted ScarfHandling

2. Rinse
Empty tub and refill with lukewarm water. Place scarf back into the water and unroll. Swoosh the scarf around lightly in the water.
Rinse Knitted Scarf

3. Spin
Get your pillowcase ready. Roll the scarf underwater and pick it up in your hands. Squeeze as much water out as possible. Place rolled-up scarf into a corner of the pillowcase (I use a bolster case). Tie a knot so that the scarf is squashed into the corner and will not move around. Set washing machine into spin cycle. Spin on fast speed.
Place Knitted Scarf in PillowcaseSpin Knitted Scarf in PillowcaseSpin Cycle

4. Blocking
Carry the pillowcase to a large flat surface like a clean bed. Take the scarf out and unroll it onto the bed. Carefully stretch the wet knitted scarf out onto the bed to about the width and length that you want. You may wish to stop at this point if you are satisfied with the way it looks and leave the scarf to dry completely.
Wet Knitted Scarf

However, you may need to pin the knitted scarf in place to really show the pattern and get the right size. This is especially so in lace knitting. Using rust-proof or dressmakers’ pins, pin along the edges of the damp scarf. Use as many pins as needed to keep the edges straight and even. Dry the scarf completely before removing pins. You have successfully blocked a scarf!
Blocking Knitted Scarf

Related posts:
Asherton Reversible Scarf
A Tale of a Bad Yarn Shop Experience

{ 26 comments }

26 Responses to “How to Block a Scarf You Can Be Proud Of”

  1. Diana Graff says:

    I have never blocked anything yet.. well I lie I did but didn’t realize at the time that … * shock * acrylic yarn * did not felt… oh the shame of ignorance.. The day that I do something out of wool, I will come back here for help and tips ;)
    The scarf looked beautiful before and after ;) I did kind of like the before look though..

    Diana Graff’s last blog post..Did you say a little prayer for Rocky?

  2. Salihan says:

    The “before” scarf had a really nice bouncy feel to it. Scrunchable I think best describes it. It even looked like there were cables pulling the pattern in like that. I adore this scarf – blocked and unblocked.

    P.S. I made a bad mistake with trying to block acrylic too. The acrylic just melted under my steam iron. I blogged it here. :P

    • Angela says:

      When you blocked the Atherton scarf how much longer did it get? I’m knitting one now and am not sure when to stop.

  3. Nadine says:

    Great tutorial! I’ve only blocked a few times, and I didn’t realize there was a ‘spin’ step. That would have made blocking a little faster! :)

    • Salihan says:

      Nadine: I didn’t learn about this step until some time last year. It makes drying time a lot quicker!

      Umi: Thanks Umi! I feel the same way too! :P

  4. Umi says:

    I must confess that I know absolutely nothing about knitting but I love to see the end products of your hours of labour.

  5. mel says:

    Great Tutorial! I didnt know about the spin part, also, do you have to pin them out again the next time you wash the scarf ?

  6. Cath says:

    This is a gorgeous scarf! I really like it – it’s androdgenous, no? Good for guys AND girls.

    Cath’s last blog post..Mixing it up

    • Salihan says:

      Mel: You have to reblock items after washing them again. This is often why garment labels instruct you to reshape a wool sweater and dry it on a flat surface.

      Cath: I agree! The scarf would suit men and women. So when my hubby’s not wearing it, I am! :P

  7. Oiyi says:

    Hmmm…interesting using the machine for eliminating the water.

    Oiyi’s last blog post..Meeting Mei Mei (Celina)

  8. ali says:

    örme eşarp fikri çok güzel, google’dan bir tek burası bulunuyor, tebrikler

  9. Cherry says:

    Thanks for such clear tutorial on how to block knitted items.. I have so far only steam pressed (without flattening) knitted items.. So I will try this next time! Thanks! I love your blog and regular updates!

  10. Nikki says:

    Thanks for the clear directions. This is the first time I’ve block an item and it came out great.

  11. anne lynch says:

    I have followed instructions but my scarf still curls at edges what can I do

  12. Salihan says:

    Hi Anne. What yarn and pattern did you use for your scarf?

  13. Kalee says:

    This was a wonderful tutorial- I just finished my first lace pattern scarf and it’s amazing the difference blocking makes. Thank you for putting this together!

  14. yolie says:

    thank you Salihan. I posted a scarf on my blog that i blocked using your method. turned out perfect!

  15. Kristin says:

    I’m doing my first cabled scarf out of a alpaca/silk/merino blend yarn. I’d like to block it so that the pattern will be seen — it tends to draw in on itself now. Can I use this method? This would also be my first attempt at blocking…

    Thanks!

  16. Chris Martin says:

    I knitted a wool shawl a few months ago, but I haven’t blocked it yet for fear it will not work out. My washer is one of those HE’s, not like the old where you can spin at random, and doesn’t have a spin cycle that I can just put it on. :(

    Please direct me to how to do this. I would like to finish it. Thanks! C

    • Salihan says:

      Spinning in the washing machine is optional. I do it to speed up the drying process. The alternate way is to place your scarf onto a large towel, roll the towel and press the excess water out. Some people place the towel (with the scarf) into a bath tub and walk on it. Like getting juice out of grapes when making wine! Works just as well.

      Let me know how the scarf goes and don’t hesitate to email me again if you have any more questions. Happy blocking!

  17. Siddy says:

    Can I block a scarf knit with silk yarn this same way?

    • Nyx says:

      For Silk you want to use the pin spritz method because it’s such a delicate fiber no matter the yarn thickmess.

      • Salihan says:

        Thanks for your comment Nyx. The scarf was knitted with a wool/silk blend and blocked fine using this method. I agree that a pure silk scarf might benefit from the pin spritz method.

  18. Mary says:

    Stumbled this weblog post, cheers.

  19. Just want to say that I love you at this moment. I just knit an ascot for my future MIL in an attempt to make ammends between her son and her and it came out to be 26″ long before blocking. All I can say is I hope this blocks right tomorrow or I’m going to be struggling to find another “perfect” gift to make in the next week so it’s ready for Mother’s Day. And I still have to make MY mother something……
    .-= Jennifer-Lynn´s last blog ..Future MIL’s Mother’s Day Present—WIP =-.

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