Why I Always Block My Knit Socks

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people say, “I don’t block my knit socks. The feet do that!” Maybe this is just a misunderstanding of what blocking is. People see the fancy sock blockers in Instagram photos and think blocking is just stretching out a knit on a form. But that’s the least important part of it.


Blocking is more about exposing your knitting to water in a controlled environment. It relaxes natural fibers, helps smooth out stitches, and gives your knits a more polished look. You don’t need a blocking form to do it. Most of the time, I just soak my knits in lukewarm water (in the sink! in a bowl! wherever!), gently squeeze them out, roll them up in a towel to squeeze out even more water, and then lay them flat to dry.  And this short process pays off. Truly.

Blocking Helps Relax the Stitches

If you’ve knit one of my patterns, you might have noticed I tend to have a tight gauge, and as a result, my knits can be a little lumpy when I’m done (as you can see below). If you’ve got a sock with any sort of lacy pattern, blocking will be especially important to open out those stitches. But even if there isn’t any lace, blocking will help your stitches look more even and uniform.

Blocking Smooths Seams and Pickups

Okay, let’s say you don’t really care much about the stitch definition and just want to pop some socks on your feet. That’s legitimate, especially if you’ve just finished a pair of plain vanilla socks. But if you don’t block my socks, all those puckered stitches and seams are palpable. The ridge along the heel flap where I picked up stitches feels lumpy and doesn’t lay as flat. I want my socks to feel good against my feet, so I take a few extra minutes to block them once I’m done.

Blocking Helps Control How Knit Socks React to Washing

I try not to be too precious about my knits, but one thing I do spend a little mental energy on is figuring out how to wash them. Superwash wool is theoretically machine-safe, but I’ve felted superwash wool socks before. Now I hand wash all my knit socks for at least the first time. When I block knit socks, it gives me a chance to see how they interact with water. I can see what the fibers do, whether the dye runs, and so on. I like having this measure of control so that I don’t end up ruining 20 hours’ worth of work.

Knitting is a personal process, and people should feel free to make the trade-offs that work for them. That’s more important than any of the considerations in this post. However! If you weren’t blocking your socks just because you didn’t see the point, and now this post is giving you something to consider, I hope you’ll give it a try. It’s really improved my sock-wearing experience.

Curious to learn more about knitting or to dig deeper into blocking knit socks? Click on through for tutorials, free patterns, technique tips, and more.

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