When I was new to sock knitting, blocking socks seemed to be one of those things that only experienced knitters did. I didn’t have sock blockers, and to be honest, I still didn’t have a good handle on washing wool just yet. For those new to the term, blocking refers to the process of washing and shaping (or reshaping) ones woolens. This process helps get your wool to relax and look its best. Now, as a more experienced knitter, I know the magic blocking can make. All those wrinkly and uneven stitches lay smooth, cables pop and lace opens up with some good old-fashioned blocking.
Wondering how to block socks? Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:
1. Wash your socks!
Washing your socks (or any knitting/crochet for that matter) is just good practice upon completion of a project. It gets the gunk off that we’ve put there with all the handling, toting around in purses, cars, to work, on the train, etc. Use a wool wash (I favor Euclan but there are many others just as good) and soak your socks in a basin of lukewarm water. Twenty minutes or so should do it. Gently squeeze them out or, as I like to do, roll in a towel and squeeze the towel, until most of the water is out.
2. If you aren’t keen to hand wash, you can machine wash your socks if the wool was superwash (double check the label!).
I recommend turning them inside out and washing them in a laundry bag on delicate. Machine washed woolens can get a little fuzzed up from the friction of the machine, but if your socks are inside out, then the inside will be the side to get the most wear and the outside will stay looking nice.
3. Place your damp socks on sock blockers.
Sock blockers are essentially a frame that your sock can dry on. Hang them up or lay them in a place that is warm and has good air flow. (Turning on a ceiling fan helps.) The more air they can get the faster they will dry. Especially in colder months. If there room isn’t ventilated well enough it can take a day or two for those socks to dry.
4. If you don’t have sock blockers, you can use your hand.
Put your hand in the damp sock and slowly pull it out with your fingers stretched. This will help to shape the sock. Lay them to dry someplace where they’ll be undisturbed.
You might be wondering what you can do if you don’t have sock blockers. Well, make them!
Before I had my wonderful set of blockers, I took two wire hangers, pulled the center of the hanger down to make a long rhombus shape, then bent in one end of the hanger. And there you have it, two free sock blockers.
Keep in mind though that these will make a sock blocker that is relatively small (I have a 9.25″ foot and these were just the right size for my socks). Real sock blockers come in a variety of sizes to block your socks to just the right size.
Overall, sock blocking is pretty simple, and it’s a step worth taking in order to make your new socks look their very best. It’s also a great technique to use on older socks that need a little refresher. Lace stitches especially can become wrinkled and wonky after time and could use some blocking now and again.
I’ll be honest, I tend to forgo the blocking if the socks are for me and it’s winter. I want to wear those bad boys as soon as possible! However, I never skip the blocking step when I’ll be gifting the socks. I love to give handmade gifts, but to get a really clean and crisp look you need to block them.