How to block a shawl in a small space

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a crescent shaped shawl is pinned on a white wall. the photo is taken at a 45 degree ish angle looking down the shawl from the left side to the right. the shawl is 6 shades of purple, starting at a super pale lilac and ending in a deep violet. there is a stripe of grey between each colourchage. On the wall there are three large picture frames that are black frames with white mats. you cant really tell whats in them but since they are mine i will tell you that they are travel destination posters from the world of firefly.

 i have very little floor space in my flat so blocking large shawls is a bit of an issue. I miss my shop basement so much, but not because damp, cold, leaky, gave me asthma. ANYWAY let me show you how i block shawls, and also how i do it with little space. 

the purple shawl is in a basin filled with water and soapy bubbles.  the basin is mint blue and is in a stainless steel sink the sink is in a black worktop. you can see half of a bottle of christmas pomegranete fairy liquid and a small amount of offwhite tiles on the wall as the backsplash

 So first you grab whatever it is that needs blocking and you dunk it in the sink. i fill a basin with water hot enough to put my hands in and a squirt of fairy liquid. The green one from Lidl is actually my favourite, but Christmas fairy works just fine. 

I let the item steep for as long as i remember i have it steeping. (Steep in Scots/Doric means "to soak in," as in steeping a tea bag in boiling water.) I have often left something for a few hours, but I would recommend a minimum time of making a cup of tea and drinking it with a biscuit. 

this is three photos in one. the one that is on the left and takes up the full height is of a black electric spinner, there are wiggly ikea mirrors on the wall to its right it sits on cheap laminate floor and the walls are white. the photo on the top right is looking inside the electric spinner. you can see the purple shawl inside the stainless steel drum which is then surrounded with the black plastic of the outside of the spinner. the photo below that is the spout of the elextric spinner with a stream of water coming out and going into the mint blue basin. you can see more of my cheap laminate floor.

the next step is to get as much water out of the item as possible. Now because i dye yarn and need to get it dry quickly i have an electric spinner. this is like your washing machine, except there is no heat, no paddles just centrifugal force that pushes the item to the sides and forces the water out. I love my baby. I would not recommend putting your item on a spin in the washing machine due to the paddles. I have done this out of need and i really didn't like how undelicate it was with my garment. 

 this is a set of four photos showing the process of getting as much water out of a knitted shawl as possible. the top right shows the purple shawl laying on a light blue towel, which is ontop of a pink and orange mats. the photo on the top right the shawl has mostly been rolled into the towel with a wee bit of the dark purple poking out the end. you can now see four mats of ornage, red, blue and pink. the bottom left photo the rolled up towel is being stood on with my left foor. the camera is looking straight down and you can see my black leggings and my socks are a fuzzy caramel and white stripes. the bottom right photo is almost identical to the last but both my feet are on the towel.

 If you are a normal person you probably wont have an electric spinner. So first squeeze out as much water as possible being careful not to wring or cause unnecessary friction. Then grab a towel, or towels big enough to roll your item into, like a wee sausage roll. Roll it up and then stand on it. I advise bare feet, the water will come through and soak your socks.  You may want to repeat this step a few times just to get it as dry as possible. 

i am sat just in frame on the floor wearing black leggings. my hand stretched out to the camera holding onto part of the purple shawl that has a blocking wire starting to be woven through the top edge. you can see the blocking mats on the floor they are red, orange and pink

Now the last step. pinning the beast. I have a fair collection of foam mats and i use them on top of my carpet to give me something to pin into. before i had these mats i put a few towels down and pinned into those and then my rug. My mats are children's play mats and you can get them everywhere, especially in the supermarkets at summer. mine also look filthy but that's dye that wont come out from when i used them on the floor in the basement. 

So for the straight top edge of the shawl i like my blocking wires, If you wanted to add something that wasn't yarn to a gift list i would put these second under the mats. mine are knit pro and they are around £20 for a set and any yarn shop that carries knit pro can probably order you in a set if you ask nicely. 

I weave these wires in and out along the top and this gives me a good base to start with. If you don't have wire just pin straight along that edge, pulling to the dimensions you require and putting the pins as close together as possible to keep that edge straight.

a close up on the edge of the shawl. we are at the deep purple end and it is pinned in a scallop pattern ontop of an orange and red mat.

Sorry this photo is out of focus but it represents what i want to show you. I start pinning at the centre of the bottom edge of the shawl. now the way you block the edge depends on the shape of your shawl . Mine is a crescent shape with picot edges so i want to keep that circular shape but pull the picots out to give a frilly edge. So i pin at equal intervals around the shawl ensuring i get the rough shape i want and stretching the item to the size i want. Pin wise i have some T pins that came with my blocking wires, but the rest are just plain old stainless steel pins. 

the purple shawl is pinned onto the pink mat. you can only see a small section but you can see all the colours of purple that it transitions through

once i have my guide pins in along the edge i start pinning every picot bump, pulling them into align with my guide pins, but also moving those guide pins if needed. stretching the shawl as i go. Often patterns will give a finished size of the item so you can block to those measurements. i over block things if they are for myself. no idea why. Once you have the whole thing pinned out you should go have a cuppa because that took forever and you probably shoved some pins in your fingers. 

Oh wee tip put your pins in at a 45 degree angle away from your item. like you would a tent peg. these pins get put under tension and having them that way stops them popping out or the item slipping off the pins. You can see that happening in the blurry photo (two above) 

 this is a photo of the purple shawl laying on the floor all pinned out. the straight edge is at the top of the photo. you can see the mats that it is on which are orange, red. blue, pink and purple. you can also see parks of my ikea rug under that, grey splodges. orange stripes, lots of cream. there is also a green plastic lidded box at the top of the shawl and the end of a black tv cabinet to the side of that.

So this is it all pinned out and ready to be left alone. Now lets get into the no space issue. This is the most floorspace i have in my flat. its in the middle of the livingroom, you have to walk over it to get to the sofa, the tv, the armchair, my stock. So we have to work with it. And do you know how. TOWELS!!! 

this photo is similar to the last. the purple shawl is on the floor with a light blue towel on top on the right hand side. but the clutter of the livingroom is all around it. there is a footstool with a light blue fleece on it and ontop of that is a transparent dog cone

So here you can see what my Livingroom usually looks like. I have a dog. he gives no cares for your knitwear on the floor. So i cover the item in towels to protect it and it works. Not even kidding. make sure these are not the towels you used to wring out the item as well we would like this to dry. 

This is two imaged. The left hand picture is looking from the bottom of the shawl but you can see alot of the livingroom floor. To the bottom left of the image is what is the corner of a sofa but you cant really tell, there is a grey and cream striped sleeping bag on the sofa just being used as a blanket. To the immediate left of the sofa and at the bottom of the photo is a foot stool. It is covered in a heavily printed fabric that is purple ontop of the foot stool, green going down the sides and then yellow at the bottom trim. The pattern is all white except for on the yellow where it is green.on the footstool is a light blue fleece and ontop of that is a transparent dog cone on an orange and blue collar and next to that is a green rubber chew dog toy in a ring. You can just see the shawl and the blocking matts on the floor. There is a green lidded box with a black handle above the shawl and a brown checkered suare dog bef rumbled up behind that. There is a black kallax ikea unit to the back left which you can see a ps5 ontop of. A grey box in the bottom cubby. The rest of the cubbies is covered with a pile of literal stuff. Then along the back is a cardboard box a blue box and a grey box. The image on the right is looking at the shawlfrom the right hand side of the living room. There is a towel ontop of the shawl that is really pale blue and an english cocker spaniel wearing a forest green dryigng coat laying ontop of the towel. His green circular chew toy isto his right. You can see the edge of the foot stool mentioned earlier to his left which is now covered in pink bedding. There is a table in the background covered in stuff and bits ogf paper. More stuff under the table and you can make out a yellow bin and a green bag ontop of the bin. There is also a camera tripod next to the table and cream and brown polkadot curtains behind that.

 This is how my livingroom looks with it in the middle of the floor. the towel also helps as inevitably your pet will sit on your item. its just a given.  So really no secret to blocking in a small space. just use the space and hide the item with towels...or a blanket. If you are lucky enough to have a spare bed in the house, do it ontop of that! 

Now let me show you the finished shawl

a crescent shaped shawl is pinned on a white wall. the shawl is 6 shades of purple, starting at a super pale lilac and ending in a deep violet. there is a stripe of grey between each colourchage.
a crescent shaped shawl is pinned on a white wall. the shawl is 6 shades of purple, starting at a super pale lilac and ending in a deep violet. there is a stripe of grey between each colourchage.
a crescent shaped shawl is pinned on a white wall. the shawl is 6 shades of purple, starting at a super pale lilac and ending in a deep violet. there is a stripe of grey between each colourchage.

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