Blocking and steaming

Blocking is the term used for pinning out each knitted piece to the correct size before steaming.

Along a row

1 Run the needle in and out of the back of stitches of the same colour, working along the row for about 4-6 stitches.

1 Check your pattern for the finished measurements. Using large glass-headed pins and with the wrong side of the knitting facing upwards, pin the pieces out to the correct dimensions, taking care not to stretch the knitting out of shape.

Along a seam

Run the needle in and out of the stitches inside the seam at the edge of the knitting for about 8cm (3111). Pull the yarn through and trim the end.

2 Take the needle back, catching in the sewn-in yarn for 2-3 stitches. Stretch the knitting widthways and trim the end of the yarn.

TIP: MAKING A BLOCKING BOARD

You can use an ironing board for blocking small pieces, or make a blocking board by covering a piece of hardboard with a layer of padding and an over-layer of cotton fabric. Stretch them tight across the board and secure them to the underside with staples, glue or tape. Choose a checked fabric so that you can use the squares as a guide for pinning out pieces with the edges straight.

2 Heat an iron to the steam setting, then place a slightly damp towel or thick cloth over the fabric. Holding the iron about 2.5cm (lin) above the surface of the knitting, press the steam button and allow the steam to penetrate the fabric. Do not allow the iron to make contact with the knitted fabric to avoid melting any beads or losing the elasticity in any ribbed or highly textured stitch patterns.

Finishing

TIP: NEVER SEW SEAMS WITH YARN ENDS

It is better to use a separate piece of yarn to sew seams rather than the tail left over from casting on. If you do make a mistake, it can be easily pulled out of the fabric rather than having to unpick it.

TIP: AFTERCARE

Always refer to the instructions on the yarn ball band for guidelines as to washing or dry cleaning (if you are not going to keep the ball band, make a record of this information in a notebook). Beaded projects should be handwashed with care. Use lukewarm water and a suitable detergent, and try not to agitate the item too much. Avoid wringing because this stretches knitted items out of shape and can damage the beads. Gently squeeze out the excess water by placing the item on a towel and applying light pressure. Felted items, although already shrunk, should be handwashed to avoid additional shrinkage.

Backstitch

This creates a strong but non-elastic seam and is suitable where firmness is required and for light-weight yarns. It is worked with the wrong sides facing you, so it can be difficult to pattern match exactly. Pin the pieces right sides together, matching the pieces as closely as possible, and keep the stitches near the edge to avoid creating a bulky seam.

1 Secure the seam and yarn by taking the needle twice around the outer edges of the fabric, from back to front.

2 Take the yarn around the outside edge once more, but this time insert the needle through the work from back to front no more than 1.3cm G/iin) from where the yarn last came out.

Sewing seams

There are several methods of sewing seams together. Oversewing and backstitch are used in this book. Use a blunt-ended yarn needle and matching coloured yarn.

Oversewing

This is sometimes referred to as a flat seam because it produces a very narrow seam. Hold the edges of both pieces right sides together in one hand. With your other hand, insert the needle from the back of the work through the edge stitches of both pieces. Pull the yarn through to the front, then take it over the knitted edge and sew once again a few stitches along from where you started. Continue evenly along the edge and secure at both ends by sewing in the yarn ends.

3 Insert the needle from front to back at the point where the first stitch began, then bring the needle back through to the front, the same distance along the edge as before. Repeat this process along the whole seam, then secure the end with a couple of overlapping stitches.

Quick & easy projects

This chapter contains 20 projects for all ages, from the butterfly and bumble boots for children to the ribbon-and-

lace stockings and stripy fair isle socks for grown-ups. each knitter learns at a different pace, so look out for the sock symbols to find a project suitable for your current skill level:

= easy

  • average
  • more challenging

Always read the abbreviations listed for each pattern before you start.

Project 1

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