Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Steam is a Knitters Friend

Here's a secret. I use steam when finishing my knits. I pin the corners of button bands out, making them as square as possible, I give them a shot of steam and let them dry before I move the knitting. I use a tailors ham around the edges of my set in sleeves, I leave the first section to cool and dry, then I move on and do the next section.

Why do I do this? I have taken classes in both tailoring and millinery. It's very common for both disciplines to use steam in shaping materials. When making hats from wool and straw, they are steamed and stretched over wooden forms and then left to dry. In tailoring we use padded forms and wooden pressing tools to perfect seams and get into corners. We steam edges and use the wooden tools as weights to hold edges in place while they cool.

The basic technique for hand knits is to hold a steam iron close but not let it touch the yarn, particularly with synthetic fibers.You do not use the weight of the iron as that will flatten and crush the stitches. Lay the garment out on your ironing board, smooth it out, squaring edges and aligning them. Next, hold the steam iron about 1/2 to 1” above the knitting always moving it. Be sure to pay attention to the heat setting on your iron and match the setting to the fiber content of your yarn. Smooth out the knitting in any areas that pull in, for example around cables or eyelets. Let each area rest until cool and move on to the next until the whole project is done. This is not a substitute for wet blocking on things like lace shawls, however it will improve the appearance of garments and can be done as a touch up on knits after cleaning to get them back into shape.

1 comment:

  1. I always steam iron my knits with exception of garments made of angora, kid silk, sometimes alpaca, and with exception of strong ribbed stitch patterns. I also do use the weight of steam iron to flatten the seams but I iron always over one wet cotton dish towel and then I let garment time to dry naturaly.
    Thanks for a hint to wooden pressing tools. Didn't know about that - but it's interesting tool for seams shaping and I'll try them.