Knitting gadgets and accessories are as abundant as for any other craft. Most of the time, the basics are all that’s required to get the job done. Recently, I splurged or rather indulged in purchasing a blocking wire set. Historically, lace knit shawls were blocked using thin wires or even strong lengths of cotton thread, in place of pins. Of course T-pins can be used to block any project including lace, but you’ll find that blocking wires give more accurate results, and are easier to use for large lace projects.
What are blocking wires?
Blocking wires are made of very thin, durable, rust-proof metals, so they don’t corrode on your project. They come in a variety of lengths and brands. I’ve even seen short sets sold specifically for blocking swatches. What I love about the set I bought, is that they are flexible, but they snap back into a straight wire, even when wound in a coil.
How to use blocking wires.
To block projects, I like to pin out the pieces and then spray with water. For lace shawls or other projects, you can also soak them in cool water, squeeze out the water and roll in a towel to absorb excess moisture. Now you’re ready to block.
Instead of pinning out pieces, wires can be used for any knit or crochet project by slipping the wires into the straight edges between the stitches to shape the pieces to the exact measurements. Use a wire that is a bit longer than the edge you are drawing it through, then hold the wire in place with T-pins.
There are different ways to use wires for blocking small lace shawls. For shawls with pointed or scalloped edges, a wire can be drawn through the stitches of each point. Use a wire for each pointed edge. After inserting the wires through the other two sides, line the top wire along the guides of your blocking board to its correct measurement. Place a few T-pins against the wire to hold it in place. Stretch out the wires of the other edges and line up the wires along the diagonal guideline on the blocking board (most boards have diagonal lines on one side). As for the top edge, place pins to hold the wire in place. Another method is to draw the wire through the straight edges and then pin out the points. The shawl below is made in pieces, with one edge that is scalloped. I’ve drawn the wire through the points as described above. For large shawls, you may need an extra blocking board or block them on a larger, padded surface.
Blocking wires are not an absolute necessity, but provide a professional finishing touch, smoothing edges and opening up lace projects to the exact measurements you want. I think you’ll find blocking wires an amazing tool, particularly for lace projects.