This may be blasphemous to say, but I feel a strong conviction that there are several occasions blocking your finished knitting is a bad idea.
It Fits Perfect The Way It Is
Maybe your swatch failed you. Maybe you just didn’t swatch. Or, maybe you didn’t soak your swatch and patiently wait for it to try. Who knows. Whatever the case may be, sometimes your finished knit fits perfect before blocking. The sleeves are the perfect length. The torso just falls just so. A neckline to die for.
This is of particular importance if you have just knit something large. A sweater. Or, worse yet, a dress. Yet still, a full length Oscar gown. (Hand knit Oscar gowns should be more of A Thing, by the way. Someone, quick, send Hollywood a Twitter. Or whatever.)
This is all I can say: DON’T BLOCK IT. Leave it alone. At best, spritz lightly with a spray bottle and lightly iron the thing (assuming an all-natural fiber).
Also: DON’T GET IT DIRTY. Washing will be difficult. Wear with an undershirt, a slip, or some type of something that will absorb any and all body odor. Avoid wear around toddlers, Italian food, red wine, cooking with splattering grease (actually just stay out of all kitchens at all times), and gardening.
Just be thankful the darn thing actually fits and take good care of it. Cast on the next project.
Your Wool is Extra Stretchy When Wet
I have become a
good better little knitter and now soak my swatches, pin them as I would my finished knits, and wait for them to dry (the worst part, by the way). Even so, I could swear my finished knits stretch much more than my washed and pinned swatches. I think the tremendous weight of the wet wool, being much more substantial in mass than an itty bitty swatch, cause the actual thing I have knit to stretch much more than my swatch.
It’s just my working theory.
I am constantly surprised by how much my wool can stretch, even if I am being gentle and not trying to stretch it. With some yarns that I have worked with again and again (say Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light), I just know the stuff can really stretch. I amend my math with what you might call Gut Instinct. I do my swatch math…and then add a little something to it for the Stretch Factor. There is no hard and fast formula for it. It just comes from
making the same mistake over an over and over experience.
Your Stitch Pattern is Particularly Three-Dimensional or Perfectly Textured
This last example is the category to which I most recently fell victim. …Although I kind of victimized myself on purpose for ulterior motives that I will Keep Secret as you to maintain your faith in me that I somewhat know what am doing (even though I don’t…). If your stitch is particularly dimensional and textured…Or textured in a subtle but very significant way that MAKES your entire project, DO NOT BLOCK. Your dimensional stitch will change and BECOME FLATTER. Your subtle texture? Gone!
Case in point: before. Full. Fluffy. Dimensional honeycomb-type stitch. You could hide marbles in those honeycombs!
After soaking and pinning: flat, dimensionless honeycomb-type stitch. An entirely different beast altogether. The good news: my overall piece worked better as one stitch type transitioned to another. Plus I had a finished cowl, which is exciting.
(This is Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted in Betty Draper’s Blues, by the way. This Worsted Pashmina is discontinued, but I love it. It can still be found at discount on many online yarn shops, although WEBS is out of it completely now. Quick, off to Google you go!)
If Your Finished Knit Is Exactly How You Like It
Your project is the right size? You like how it looks? It’s dimensional in a way that resembles the Greater Universe? Your project is a hat, scarf, or cowl-type thing that doesn’t particularly need to be washed anyway?
Leave it alone! Spritz and iron.
Consider yourself lucky.
As for my cowl…I like it. Even though it didn’t come out exactly like I planned (and when does it ever?). I am eager to move on to Development Phase 2 and see what comes next. Hopefully something not too incredibly disastrous. And, possibly something I won’t soak and block.