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Today’s post is a double-header! First is a nifty trick to ensure that you make the most of the final scraps of yarn when you are knitting a scarf. Then I’ve got a new video tutorial on blocking your finished scarf, shawl, or other lace project.

Believe it or Knot

Picture the situation … You are working on a scarf, like the lovely Rib Lace Scarf by Jeanette Sloan from MDK Field Guide No. 15 Open, and coming to the end of your ball of beautiful yarn. You don’t want to waste a scrap of it, but you also don’t want to lose at yarn chicken and have to undo your work so that you can bind off.

How do you know whether you have enough yarn to work another pair of rows (RS and WS—assuming you need to bind off on a particular row)? The answer is to put a knot in your yarn …

Unwind your remaining yarn and loosely tie a knot half way along the strand, as shown in the picture above. Then knit your next pair of rows.

If you reach the knot as you are working that next pair of rows, you know that you won’t have enough yarn to work that pair of rows AS WELL AS the final row plus the bind-off.

In my demo pictured here, I didn’t reach the knot as I was working the next pair of rows (hurrah, hurrah!) …

… so I untied the knot and then retied it half way along the remaining yarn.

And I repeated the process starting with another pair of pattern rows—remember I’m trying to get as many rows as I can from the remaining yarn before I knit one final row and the bind-off.

As you see above, after working another pair of rows, I nearly reached the knot, but not quite—that shows me I have just enough yarn to complete the final row and bind off. So I untie the knot and complete my scarf.

You can follow the same steps to avoid games of yarn chicken and reduce yarn waste.

Block Me, Amadeus

Now that you have made it to the end of your beautiful lace project, it is looking rather unprepossessing … Where is the beautiful patterning the designer’s sample showed? Straight off the needles, knitted lace projects can look like hair net, or scrunched-up tissue. They aren’t very glamorous, but fear not! All that will change with the magic of blocking.

Blocking is the process of spreading out your knitting so that the openwork can be clearly seen, and then doing something to make it stay that way! The most popular options are to soak your project and then let it dry in the correct arrangement (this is called wet blocking) or to lay out your project to the desired measurements and then use hot steam from an iron (steam blocking) to set the yarn in place.

Today’s video tutorial will show you how to wet block a simple project using basic equipment.

Here is the equipment list:

  • A recently finished, unblocked project
  • Rust-resistant pins
  • Towel and surface you can pin into (a carpeted area or bed are perfect)
  • Scissors
  • Blunt yarn needle
  • Strong thread (I used a 4ply mercerised cotton)

Now that you have blocked your lace, sit back and admire its beauty! It completely transforms how the project looks, doesn’t it? And it’s remarkably easy to do.

Congratulations! You have now graduated from the School of Lace—flip that tassel to the other side and start eyeing up a more complex lace project. You can do it!

This Could Come in Handy

Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click.

About The Author

We think Jen Arnall-Culliford is flat-out brilliant. Jen is one of the knitting world’s superb technical editors and teachers, and the star of the tutorial videos.

Cheerful. Cool headed. Supersmart. To take lessons from Jen ups our knitting game, every time.


  • Wow. No blocking wires. Would this also work with a large shawl? Thanks, Jen.

    • Yes, absolutely! Although you might find it trickier to get enough tension in the thread over a long length. So you might have to use a couple of lengths of thread along longer edges, just to get it tight enough. (So fasten one off and start another.) I hope that helps!

  • This blocking tip is brilliant. I guess if you’re smart enough to remember, you could stop every inch or so and run the cotton up the sides as you knit rather than wait till the end.

  • Great tip, never thought of using a slip knot! I usually make a knot around a leg of an open safety pin or stitch marker… will give your way a try next time I play yarn chicken which is inevitable…

  • Does soaking work on any yarn or combination ? Or would some respond better to another method?
    Am I right in thinking that for a triangular shawl the thread would be run along two sides and not the cast off edge?
    Thank you for the very clear video.

    • Hi Pip! Soaking definitely works best of yarns with an animal fibre content (wool, silk, alpaca etc…). Synthetic yarns don’t respond as well. And for a triangular shawl you would run the thread along all three sides of the triangle and pull tight along each edge. I do hope that helps! Jen

  • This is great!
    Could you explain steam-blocking?
    Thank you!

  • I use the “tie a knot” trick all the time, but usually to finish the last row and a bind-off row. My experience is that the bind-off uses more yarn than the working row in many stitch patterns, so working right up to the knot might leave you with the shortfall.

    • Especially if you’re using a stretchy lace bind-off. So you can bind off early, rip that back and measure that, then reserve that much yarn on the end of your remaining length of yarn, marking it off with a loose knot as above. Then follow Jen’s instructions to determine your last two-row yarn amount.

  • Using the cotton string is a game changer for me. Trying to weave blocking wires through wet stitches is torture. I need to block my Albers shawl and can’t wait to use this method.

  • ‘Block me, Amadeus’! Baby, baby, do, do you block me! hahahaha now I have falco playing in my head. Thanks for another great set of tips Jen.

  • Isn’t it funny how a simple trick feels like a game changer? No more yarn chicken! (Not to mention, a slap to the forehead and ‘why didn’t I think of that?’)

  • As a new lace knitter, this is SO helpful! Thank you!

  • I would love to save this article, but I don’t have the little bookmark icon at the top of the article. What can I do?

    • You must be logged in to your MDK account to get the little bookmark symbol.

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