How to Block Socks and Why

If you are gifting hand-knitted socks for the holidays, there's one way to make them look their best- You've got to block them.

If you don't believe me, look at the photo: the top sock was blocked and the bottom one was not. Eek!

Unblocked and blocked sock together for comparison

When your socks come off the needles, no matter how hard you've worked to knit evenly, they're going to look all bunchy and funky, like the lower sock in the photo. Why?

Wool Gets Kinked On The Way From Sheep To Sock

The reason for this is that the wool has been through a lot on its way to your sock - it has been sheared off the sheep; then carded, dyed, spun, and plied; and then finally twisted into hanks and wound into skeins.

And all that's BEFORE being manipulated into thousands of little interlocking loops on your knitting needles. After being kinked and spun so much, there's no way the sock is going to look as good as it could without the magic final step.

Purple sock blocking on FiberTrends Blocker

To help the socks look perfectly even and gorgeous, they need to relax into their new shape, and to do that, they need help from water and soap.

Wool soaks up a LOT of water- you'll know this if you've ever had your washing machine full of sweaters quit on you before the spin cycle. This means that soaking wool garments in water gives them the chance to re-shape as they dry.

Soap And Warm Water: How To Block Your Knitting

In the video below, I show you how to block a small knitted swatch, but it's the same process for blocking anything:

Video Thumbnail
KnitFreedom | Finishing | Blocking - How to Block Your Knitting
If you are gifting hand-knitted socks for the holidays, there's one way to make them look their best- You've got to block them. If you don't believe me, look at the photo: the top sock was blocked and the bottom one was not. Eek! When your socks come off the needles, no matter how hard you've worked

As I mentioned in the video, to block socks you should use Woolite or Soak, a no-rinse wool wash.

Soak No-Rinse Wool-WashYou can buy Soak at Soakwash.com or at your local yarn store. You'll also need a pair of sock-blockers, also found at your local yarn store or at a few different online retailers I mention below.

Let your socks soak for twenty minutes and then squeeze, don't wring, them out in a towel. Place them on the sock blockers and hang over your shower rod or if you're in a hurry, lay them on a towel with a fan pointing on them.

Sock and sock blocker together
A sock and its blocker make magic together

One day later, voila! Your socks will cause oohs and aahs, whether you are giving them as gifts or sending them in as a design submission to a knitting magazine.

Where You Can Buy Sock Blockers

Here are three options for you to buy sock blockers - click the images to go to their purchase pages:

Fiber Trends sock blocker
FiberTrends Sock Blockers

Bryson stainless steel sock blockers
Bryson Hanging Sock Blockers


Signature Needles sock blockers
Signature Needles Shower Blockers

Get Creative - Make Your Own Sock Blockers

The creative knitters in the KnitFreedom forum have found and shared tons of solutions for homemade sock blockers, using...

If you're really in a pinch, you can block socks on your own feet after they're mostly dry. Just make sure that you have someone around to bring you something to read and refill your beverage while you're busy blocking your socks!

The Effects Of Blocking Remain After A Wash Cycle

PS - even after a wash and dry in the dryer (I made sure it was washable yarn), the previously blocked sock retains the nice round toe and flat shape.

When you've blocked your socks, even after washing them they lay flat in the drawer and just look nicer! So EVEN if you're going to wash them... do a little magic first!

Comparison of previously blocked and unblocked sock after wash and dry

Related Tutorials:

If you liked this tutorial on how to block socks, post in the comments!


Videos from this post:

Resources referenced in this post:

  • Recommended Fabric Care: Soak by Soak Wash
    Soak Wool Wash Celebration Scent square sm
  • Recommended Fabric Care: Sock Blockers by Knitter's Pride
    Aqua Sock Blockers Medium Knitters Pride square

Related Course: Toe-Up, Two-at-a-Time Socks

Toe-up socks are the hippest and most addictive project in knitting right now, and it's easy to see why.

Knitters love making their socks from the toe-up because they can try on as they go, knit two-at-a-time, and there's no heel flap or picking up stitches.

The ideal project for any intermediate knitter to learn, improve, and enjoy.

Related Course: Top-Down Socks, Two-at-a-Time

Knitting two-at-a-time socks is the coolest trend in knitting right now. Never suffer from second-sock syndrome again.

Once you learn the technique of knitting socks on Magic Loop, you'll want to make everything in the round two-at-a-time, whether it's sweater sleeves, socks, or mittens.

30 thoughts on “How to Block Socks and Why”

  1. Sock patterns typically say to have 5-10% negative ease, so the sock width and length is smaller than the foot width and length. Should the sock blocker be the smaller size or the actual foot size? Thank you!

  2. Hello! I stumbled across this blog post because I just completed a sock with significant lacework in it. I know how to block socks…. and I know how to block flat lace…. but the two processes seem at odds (pinning out to let the lace pop versus conforming to a sock form). Any recommendations or adjustments for blocking a sock with lacework?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Liz, great question!

      I think for your lacy socks, putting them on a pair of sock-blockers should be sufficient. Your pattern will be designed to account for the fact that lace stretches significantly, in order for the sock to fit nicely and to see the lace pattern. So my prediction is that just blocking them to the size of socks that they are, on sock-blockers, will stretch out the lace as it is meant to be seen, no pinning required.

      I hope that helps! Please reply here or, better yet, post in the forum with a photo to let us know how it goes. I love lacy socks and would love to see your project.

      Liat Gat

  3. Hi Liat, thanks for your very informative videos, and I appreciate the way you do your patterns, such as “knit to the gap” vs. knit some arbitrary number. Anyway I also wanted to mention your link to the “Soak” soap is wrong; it leads to a bathroom hardware site. I think the correct link is “http://soakwash.com/.

  4. How do you know what size sock blocker is appropriate to buy? I wear size 91/2 or 10 in ladies, my socks are around 10″ long. Do I need a form larger than the length?

  5. Hi Susan,

    Thank you so much for your sweet words! I love that you have fallen in love with knitting socks- my liking for knitting them has grown quite beyond what I had expected as well!

    When I read your comment about the socks stretching so much when blocked, it makes me think it’s the yarn. What kind of yarn are you using to knit the socks? If you are using anything with alpaca, they can become quite droopy. Other droopy yarns are silk, bamboo, and possibly mink and yak.

    A good (and common) fiber blend for sock yarn is 75% tightly-plied washable wool and 25% nylon. This really helps socks keep their shape.

    SO my answer for you is no, you should not make the socks too small in anticipation of blocking — or that’s not ideal, anyway. If you’re set on using that yarn, you can make a swatch, block it, and then check your gauge on that swatch and use it to asses what stitch count you need for your socks.

    I hope this helps!

    Hugs,
    Liat

  6. Liat,

    I LOVE your SuperStar program. Most of all, I have fallen in love with knitting socks – I am quite shocked how much I enjoy making these little buggers. Your instructions and videos are amazing. Your videography is wonderful and clear. Thank you for the attention you put into this.

    I am having a wee problem with blocking the socks. The socks are stretching to the point of being too big. I am careful to not wring the socks – just a gentle squeeze. However, the final product is too big. The socks fit fine before blocking, but literally fall off the blocking forms. Is this normal? Should I make the socks too small in anticipation of the stretching? Please help.

    Thanks again,

    Susan

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The maximum upload file size: 12 MB.
You can upload: image.
Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded.

Scroll to Top