The Importance of Blocking, Earnestly

I’m a lazy knitter.  I don’t like to sew pieces of an object together. I like to be finished when I’ve cast off and tucked in my ends.

At the same time, I love the look of lace from the Estonian town of Haapsalu. And when knitting ultra-fine yarn and making nupps, I can’t walk away once I’ve cast off.  To make the project look like the one on the right, it needs to be stretched, or blocked.

It makes a huge difference in the visibility and durability of the pattern.

When I first conceded that I needed to block the occasional item, I raided my needle drawer for the smallest gauge double pointed needles in stock, and carefully threaded them through. Once I graduated to shawls that matched my wingspan, I invested in a set of proper blocking wires. I chose a set from HandWorks, and have been happy ever since. There are three weights of wires in the package, making it easy to block a straight edge, as above, or a curve.

Blocking takes time, and it’s time well spent.

Now, a few notes about the shawl featured in the pictures. The yarn is an HEA Shawl Yarn, 100% wool, available on line at If you’re an English reader and don’t see text in English, look for the flag in the upper right corner. Near the flag, you’ll see a link to Webshop or epood.

I used three patterns for this shawl:

It took three months to complete this project. Expert knitters in the Haapsalu Lace Centre say they spend at least 100 hours on a shawl. In this case, I added about seven hours unpicking stitches after noticing how I strayed too far from the pattern at one point.

Traditional Haapsalu shawls have lace edging all the way around. The recipient of this shawl asked for lace on the short sides only.