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Updated: Jul 13, 2023

Water is a precious resource, and as knitters, we can do our part to conserve it by using water-efficient blocking techniques. There are several methods for blocking knitted garments, each with its own water consumption level. This article will discuss three popular blocking methods and offer a solution for reducing water consumption when washing your garments.

Hot Steam Blocking

This method uses a steamer to apply heat and moisture to the garment. It’s a popular method as it’s quick and effective, using only a small amount of water to produce steam. To hot steam block your garment, start by filling a steamer with water and heating it up. Once the steamer is hot, hold it a few inches away from the garment and apply the steam evenly to the fabric. After steaming, gently shape the garment into the desired shape and allow it to dry completely. Use the iron or steamer in the shorter time possible as the electricity consumption of the small electro-domestic is surprisingly high!

Soak and Pin Blocking

This method involves soaking the garment in water and pinning it into shape. It’s a popular method, allowing greater control over the garment's shape. However, it requires a higher amount of water compared to other blocking methods. To soak and pin block your garment, fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water (too cold to bath, too hot to drink), and add a small amount of wool wash or mild soap. Gently submerge the garment in the water and allow it to soak for 20-30 minutes. After soaking, remove the garment from the water and gently squeeze out the excess water without twisting it. Treat it as a baby, and don’t let it overstretch. Next, carefully shape the garment into the desired shape and pin it in place. Allow it to dry completely.

This is the method I usually use because I like pinning my sweaters to final measurements and shaping my shawls freely. However, I’m conscious of the huge amount of water used. The water is unsuitable for watering plants as the soap might be toxic, and the modified pH can kill them. Instead, I recommend simmering the piece completely using a basin and not running water. After the process, use soapy water to mop the floors or save a toilet flush!

Reduce the impact of soaking using rinse-free soaps

While these methods can effectively achieve the desired results for your garment, they require varying amounts of water. To reduce water consumption further, consider using soaps that do not require rinsing. These soaps are specially formulated to clean and

condition wool without leaving residue. This means you can skip the rinse cycle and save water. Some popular brands of no-rinse wool wash include Eucalan and Soak.

In conclusion, as knitters, we can take small steps to help conserve water by using water-efficient blocking techniques. By choosing methods like hot steam blocking or spray bottle blocking, we can reduce our water consumption without sacrificing the quality of our finished garments. Additionally, by using soaps that don't require rinsing, we can further reduce our water consumption and do our part to protect this precious resource.


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