How To Block A Shawl – On Holiday!

Blocking a shawlBack in – gulp – January, I bought some turquoise wool and began knitting the Trousseau shawl. Here in August, I’ve finally completed it. Don’t anyone ever accuse me of being a fast knitter.

There was only one problem. The last stitch had been knitted on holiday with family in the Isle of Wight, far from my blocking wires back in London. I was eager to see the fully blocked shawl. Could I block it without the necessary equipment? A quick Google search threw up some bullish responses to this question. Sure thing, kiddo!

This shawl has been knitted around Europe and in myriad locations – trains, camp sites, beautiful cities. Am I the only person who does most of her knitting on holiday?

Knitting Around The World Collage

Karen of Didyoumakethat knittingOn my holiday, I’d been lucky enough to stop by a knitting shop where I bought yarn, some plastic darning needles and lots (but not enough) of pins.

I sourced an old towel and dug out a 15-year-old sarong. I really didn’t mind if a little bit of dye ran into this. (It didn’t.)

The Steps I Took

1. I trimmed all loose ends on my shawl, using a pair of kitchen scissors.

Trimming2. I threaded a length of contrasting (but complimentary in colour – just in case of dye running) yarn through the straight edge of the shawl. This is where I’d normally run a blocking wire.

Threading3. I soaked my shawl in a sink of cool water. I didn’t allow my angora wool to sit around in water for any longer than necessary, and I was very gentle when it came to squishing the water out of my shawl.

4. I tightly rolled the shawl in a towel and sarong to squeeze any final excess water out of my make.

Blcoking Collage5. I went into the largest room in our house – my parents’ bedroom – happy to disturb my 71-year-old father who was trying to read (aka nap) in quiet. No such luck! You don’t mind if I just pin out my shawl in this corner of the bedroom, do you? Watch out on your way to the loo!

Dad6. I laid out a fresh, dry towel and my old sarong  on the carpet and spread my shawl on top.

7. I started pinning!


Finally Pinned Shawl8. I was short of two pins for my scallop edges (just my luck!), so I finger pressed them into shape. Not ideal, but not a deal breaker.

Finger Pinning9. I left to dry overnight, hoping I wouldn’t hear any yelps of pain from a parent on a night time visit to the bathroom.

And how did things look the next morning? I think that’s a lovely shawl – and neither parent stood on a pin!

Didyoumakethat Trousseau Shawl

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36 Responses to How To Block A Shawl – On Holiday!

  1. nicola says:

    that is really lovely and the colour is beautiful

  2. debbie63 says:

    It’s a beautiful shawl!

  3. It’s beautiful – I remember when you started it. I had just begun knitting socks which take a lot less patience (which you must have heaps of!). Well worth all the work too:)

  4. I love that last pic of you knitting in your sunglasses! I definitely do most of my knitting while traveling. If I’m home in my studio, I won’t take my free time to knit when my sewing machine is sitting right there. But I love that I can create something out of spare moments on the road, even if it takes me all summer to knit a sweater (I’m not a super fast knitter either)—at the end of it I have a hand-knit sweater!

  5. Kelly says:

    That is absolutely beautiful!! And don’t you apologize over how long it took you – I could knit for 1000 years and never finish that!

  6. Ha ha! I have my blocked sweaters spread out in the living room for my other half to step over! Knitting takes up a lot of space! This is a lovely shawl – great colour.

  7. Joanne says:

    It is brilliant – well done you! I am so impressed. I am currently struggling with a lacy cardigan I started and keep trying to decide whether or not life is too short to make a lacy cardi but having witnessed your patience I’ve decided to plough on. Nice to see your Isle of Wight blouse – I have to confess I have ordered exactly the same pattern/fabric – hope that isn’t too creepy!

  8. This is so beautiful and I am sure that blocking it helps to create that beautiful shape. The points are so perfect. Fabulous colour too. Such a timely post, we were just talking about getting our knitting pins out again at work today as there was a decided nip in the air. Now I am feeling inspired! Xx

  9. Great shawl Karen. Thanks for the tips! I need to block my Miette soon and am a total noob

  10. Philippa says:

    It IS a really lovely shawl. I think you couldn’t wait to wear it!

  11. jenny crisp says:

    Lovely, lovely shawl and it holds so many exotic memories!

  12. Fadanista says:

    This is such a beautiful shawl and I love your innovative blocking process. I also tend to knit more on the move than at home, but have never blocked anything in far flung places.

  13. Beautiful shawl, the color is lovely! I love reading this post, looks like you had a relaxing holiday:-)

  14. Tracy H says:

    Beautiful shawl. I must confess I had never heard of blocking wires.

  15. Kim says:

    Gorgeous shawl! I also knit mostly on holidays, have two sweater projects packed right now 🙂 love the colour you picked!

  16. scruffybadger says:

    I love the totally portable nature of this shawl’s evolution – including the finishing touches. Now, confession, I’ve never blocked ( the two things I’ve ever completed) so even if this isn’t the traditional method, thank you for demystifying it !! My current knit ( a smaller shawl) as a result of this will get blocked. Just need to get on and knit it- you’ve inspired me to pop it into my bag today Thank you 🙂

    • I don’t block everything, but shawls are the one thing that do massively benefit from blocking. It transforms them!

      • LinB says:

        Hurray for you, finding a way to succeed in the “wilderness.” Lucky that said wilderness possesses a fully-stocked yarn store. Lucky that yer Dear Ol’ Da is so long-suffering, too, lol.

  17. Nilla says:

    What a beautiful shawl! I block all my knitting on a towel in the bathroom – not ideal, but it’s the only place where the dogs can’t get to in the night 😀 Never heard of blocking wires either!

  18. Nina says:

    What a nice shawl you have made. You don´t have to be fast, you just have to enjoy making it.

  19. Kat H says:

    Gorgeous! Love the colour, and the pattern. 🙂 (And the knitting on holiday – yay for portable craft projects!)

  20. lovelucie1 says:

    Gorgeous shawl. I’ve pinned it for the future.
    Fab photo of you wearing it. You look like you’ve been on holiday! 😉

  21. Jenna says:

    What lovely photos! It is such a glorious colour, I bet you’ll be smiling every time you wear it thinking of all the places its been knitted in!

  22. Joyapple says:

    What a lovely shawl and did your Dad, without pins in his feet, take your picture?

  23. I’m looking forward to getting my knitting needles back out. Definitely an Autumn/Winter thing for me. This colour looks lovely on you 🙂

  24. Liz says:

    That is beautiful!

  25. Kate says:

    beautiful pattern – and the color is exquisite – way to get creative and block-on-the-go!

  26. It’s beautiful and looks lovely on you too – great shade of turquoise.

  27. Ooh it looks fab – congrats on finishing it!

  28. Ingrid K. says:

    Hi Karen!
    What a lovely shawl, such a pretty pattern! You did well with blocking it whilst not at home!
    That colour really suits you!

    BTW, thanks for inspiring me in so many ways. I started following your blog since the ‘Guardian days’ and it was the very first blog I read! I love reading about the things you make and seeing the nice photos! Since then I have discovered many more blogs and a whole world has opened up to me… For which I want to thank you!!!! Recently I even started writing my own blog (so far mostly about crochet, but I love all sorts of crafts and want to share what I do!)

    Thanks again and have a lovely weekend!
    Ingrid xx

  29. Emmely says:

    It’s a lovely shawl and the colour looks really great on you!

  30. triggsey says:

    What a beautiful piece!! It’s a gorgeous color on you. I just knit my way from Boston to NY to Paris and back. Love stretches of time to focus on knitting without worrying about all the endless day to day chores !

  31. opalspeacock says:

    Stunning piece, well worth the wait.

  32. Alessa says:

    Wow, it looks amazing! I love both the pattern and the colour of your wool! 🙂

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