Have you ever had a blocking wire lash out at you and almost make you lose an eye? Sounds evil, mad even, and maybe a little over the top dramatic, but the truth is these cheeky buggers can be mean if not stored appropriately.
We are talking about the flexible variety of blocking wires here, not the long and more sturdy ones. Because there are two types:
Flexible wires to block anything from straight to very bendy items, even circles such as blocking doilies. And then there are straight wires that are thicker and bend only slightly. These are particularly good for long edges on your knitting project and slight slopes, but not very good for very rounded crescents and steeper curves on your knitted shawl.
We’ve had straight wires that were a nightmare to store because the tube they were packaged in was poorly made and the lids on both ends kept falling off. So whenever we picked the tube up from some hidden corner, or from under the sofa because frankly the tube isn’t exactly pretty to look at, the wires would kick through the lid and slide out spreading all over the floor. Such a mess.
But it isn’t straight wires we want to talk about here. They do have their place, but we much prefer flexible wires because, well, they are just more versatile in what they can do, and much easier to store when done appropriately.
But let’s have look at what blocking wires can do first.
How to use blocking wires for blocking your knitting or crochet
To block your knitted or crocheted garments successfully with wires you will need the following items:
- Blocking Mats
- Blocking Wires
- Blocking Pins
We recommend KnitIQ Blocking Mats, because they are extra thick to hold the pins and your garments tightly. Also, they have useful inch and/or centimetre gridlines on them to make it easier to lay your knitting or crochet out to dimension before you fix it with your blocking wires and pins. Finally, the gridlines of the KnitIQ Blocking Mats connect in all directions so that you can create any shape and the blocking boards hold together tightly and won’t come apart easily. This ensures that everything is held in place correctly for professionally looking results.
KnitIQ Blocking Pins will be needed to hold the wire in place. But you will need much less pins than you would without the wires, because the wire holds the shape when threaded along the edge of your garment.
For example, you thread the wire through the crescent edge of your shawl and then place pins in regular intervals along the inside of the wire to shape and hold the desired curve. Or if you are blocking a crisp, straight line, you place a pin every so often for the wire to hold in place along said straight line.
Obviously, in order to hold tension, you will need to have an opposing edge against which you fix your garment to pull it tight. This is why our KnitIQ Blocking Wires are long enough to thread along the crescent line of most knitted shawls, the bottom straight line and the side edges if you wish to use wires for the sides as well.
Because from experience we know that it can get messy if you have to use two wires along the crescent when blocking your shawls. We prefer using only one wire per edge, because it simply makes blocking easier and neater. Our KnitIQ Blocking Wires are long enough to do this.
And if you are blocking doilies, you could simply weave the delicate, smooth wire ends through the points or edge of your doily and create a perfect circle, because the wire would naturally bend and shape in this way when holding its ends together. All you need to do is pin the ends onto your blocking mats.
If you want to learn more about how to use blocking wires, read our more elaborate article here.
As you can probably tell, we are a fan of flexible blocking wires and use them all the time, wherever we can, because they are so easy to transport and handle.
Why KnitIQ Blocking Wires are so safe and easy to use
One of the most distinguished features of our wires is that they come with safety keepers. As mentioned earlier: How often have you tried to get flexible wires out of a tin or box only for them to lash out in all directions?
We aren’t joking when we said we almost hurt ourselves or a small friend by poking into parts of the body that aren’t meant to be poked at with wire ends. We thought: There must be a better way to store these things and put our thinking caps on.
The result is our fabulous, super easy and safe to use storage discs:
Here is how to use them:
Take a keeper out of its stylish, sustainable and very handy felt pouch. If you are right-handed, hold the keeper in your left hand so that the ‘PRESS’ Button faces you. Then use your right hand to push the button with your thumb while keeping hold of the keeper with your left hand in order to separate the top and bottom parts of the disc.
Put the top part aside and keep holding the bottom part with the wire in your left hand while gently picking up the wire end with your right hand. Once you’ve got hold of it, take it as a lead to slowly turn the case clockwise with your left hand. We’ve found that putting the index and/or middle finger through the hole in the centre gives you more control while turning the base, because the thumb can then freely move to gently guide the wire when being wound out of its keeper.
Block your garment by threading the wires along the edges of your garment and fixing your project onto your KnitIQ Blocking Mats with the KnitIQ Blocking Pins that are included in the KnitIQ Blocking Wire Set. The pins are there to hold the tension between two opposing edges and shape the wires.
- This is why they need to be placed on the inside of the wire – the garment side – facing outwards. It makes sure that the wire as well as the garment stay in place and tight. The beauty about blocking with wires is that they create natural curves that don’t require too much measurement as it just with pins. All you need to do is place a pin in regular intervals along the curve of the wire to shape it and fix the wire into place.
- Storing your wire back in its safety disc again is easy: Find the arrow in the base part of the disc and thread the wire through the little hole the arrow points towards. Once you’ve done that the tip of the wire will naturally hit a barrier which indicates that the wire is now secure to be wound up into its case.
To do so, hold the base in your left hand again with your index and/or middle finger slightly pointing through the hole in its centre and then gently turning it counter-clockwise following the lead of your right hand feeding the wire in. The left thumb can help control the process.
- Once the wire is securely stored in its keeper base, take the lid and press it on top. Voilá, that’s it! You can now put it back into its cute, little felt pouch and throw it in your knitting or crochet bag, or anywhere else, because it is so small and easy to store anywhere.
To see the whole process in action, here is a video for you:
Gone are the days of fiddling around with jumpy flexible wires and no compact solution to store them. What’s great about our wires is that they are not only safe and easy to store, the two different lengths they come in are also clearly marked by two different colour cases.
If you keep storing the different-length wires separated by colour, you will also save time by picking the right wire every time instead of unwinding the whole lot to find the right one.
And finally, a word on our super cute pouch. We fell in love with it, because it is so soft in your hand and the colours feel so fresh and uplifting. Fed up with wasteful, unsightly packaging, we wanted to create something a bit more elegant and sustainable by using felt as a natural material and a stylish design so that the pouch can be repurposed for anything you like. For example for knitting accessories such as knitting needles, measuring tape, stitch markers, tapestry needles and so on when you travel, or even your cosmetics if you so wished. However, to keep things tidy and your discs in one place, we do recommend using this pouch, because it also looks really nice in your knitting or crochet bag.
If you have any questions about our KnitIQ Blocking Wires or need help in using them, simply contact us via our contact form and we are more than happy to help. Happy wire blocking!