Ah, the magic of blocking. As makers we often reflect upon the transformative process of knitting, creating purposeful garments out of two sticks and string, and the humble knit stitch. One very practical yet magical transformation that we never tire of witnessing? The difference a warm, soapy water bath makes on wooly yarn—in particular, woolen-spun yarn.
When a skein of Peace Fleece lands on your doorstep, it arrives with minimal processing. The yarn’s natural state at this stage belies the true quality of the woolen-spun fibers, carded together every which way within its two gently twisted plies. What happens once the yarn hits water and is given a relaxing soak is referred to as “bloom” - that opening up of fibers that are processed and spun in a woolen-spun method plays a major part in the “ta-da!” moment of blocking transformation, and in the versatility of the yarn to accommodate a lovely range of gauges and characteristics in the finished fabric.
If you’ve ever compared this blooming behavior of woolen-spun against a worsted-spun yarn, you may have noticed quite a difference between the way they look and behave in the final garment.
Notice how smooth and almost two-dimensional the unblocked strand of yarn directly off the skein on the right is, compared to how rounded, lofty, dare we say plump and happy, the washed, blocked and fully dried strand is on the left?
(Side note: once those fibers in a woolen-spun yarn are opened up, they create airy spaces in the yarn which serve to regulate temperature, both trapping heat in and acting as insulation when it’s cold, and distributing heat away from the body when it's warmer out—practical magic, in a nutshell.)
Here's an extreme closeup of blocked stockinette stitch versus its pre-bath state:
Once wet-blocked and laid flat to air dry, the final finished piece is lofty, uniform, airy, and cohesive.
Even when knit at a looser, more open gauge than is typical, woolen-spun yarns happily bloom to fill in the gaps to create a shockingly light and floaty, yet warm and solid, fabric.
As we know, gauge plays a huge part not just in fit and final dimensions of a project, but the overall hand and behavior of the fabric it creates. Each of the above swatches feature the same number of stitches and rows, with a different result in the feel of the knitted swatch. All lovely and useful in their own right.
Below, swatches of the Odiorne Gansey's textural stitch patterns, as well as the lovely cable pattern featured in the Salina pullover. DK shines brightly in textures and plain knit fabrics alike. With the added fuzziness of mohair, stitch patterns once blocked attain a defined softness, one of our favorite characteristics of a yarn like Peace Fleece DK.
We encourage you to experiment with different types of stitch patterns, needle sizes, and projects to get to know how versatile and lovely our DK yarn can be.
Though it's currently springtime here in our northeastern part of the United States, we are already dreaming and planning our next cool-season knits!
Check out our available colors of Peace Fleece DK (now offered in 50g skeins!) and visit our Patterns page for new project ideas.