blocking liquid other than water

Can anyone think of, or has anyone heard of a non-aqueous, pre-blocking, soaking liquid? The deal is I’m working on a double-knit rug made out of jute twine. I’d like to soak it in an effort to even out the stitchery a little. Knitting with jute is a little like knitting with wood. It doesn’t have a lot of give or spring and inevitably I forget to stop and pull each stitch tight and so end up with some loose-looking stitches. I’d like to give it a good long soak in something other than water. If you soak jute in water, it looks kind of old and worn out after it dries. I like the fresh and perky look for this project I’m working on so I’d like to find something other than water to soak it in. I’m almost thinking about sending it to the dry cleaners but I’d prefer to do it myself. Does anyone know what the dry cleaners use?


scottly's picture

This looks promising, Dryel or you could try a garment steamer which I don't think would compress the fibers the way soaking in water does or maybe just spot moisten the problem spots with a spritzer and put it in the dryer. So, how many gallons of Corn Huskers do you go through on any given jute project? Your hands must chapped like crazy.

Tom Hart's picture

Thanks, Scott. When I tell other knitters that I'm knitting with twine they tend to think it must play hell with my hands but it doesn't at all. But then I knit Portuguese style and you don't really handle the yarn with that style. If I knitted continental and had it woven between my fingers, maybe but I kind of think not. The real problem with knitting with twine is that it's just so completely unyielding. No stretch, no give, no spring, no mercy.

Wow. I have no idea what the answer to your question would be/is, however I would love to see a picture of the final product. Knitting with jute. Old enough to remember macrame, I'm intrigued.


Tom Hart's picture

Oh, I will definitely post a picture of this one, Peter. It's coming out pretty nicely. I'm thinking I may not really need to block it after all.

AKQGuy's picture

What about something like a wood soap? Its oil based to give the wood a good sheen and bind in its water content. I imagine it would be big bucks for enough Murphy's to soak an entire rug though. Possibly a batch of wood conditioner luje one uses before varnishing. Hardware stores carry it by the 5gallon buckets in the hardwood flooring section. My biggest concerns would be the chemical odor it would leave and how one safely disposes of a tub of wood conditioner.

Tom Hart's picture

Well you hit the nail squarely on the head there, Quinton. If I did find some such solution what would I do with it after? And then there's the smell! No, I've completely abandoned this idea.

Bill's picture

Tom, rather than soak about misting it with water, stretching it and nailing it down to something like plywood. Repeated mistings might help it to even out a bit.
It might be that covering it with a wet towel would help also, but the tugging and "blocking" are what it needs...

Tom Hart's picture

Thanks, Bill. If I do mist it or run it through the washer and dryer, I'm thinking of stretching it a little on some knitters' block and then spraying it with that hair spray/lacquer you mentioned. But the more I think about it, I think I'm just going to leave it alone.

Crafty Andy's picture

Tom I say that you can mist it like Bill suggested and let it out in the sun to dry a bit. A machine will probably make the rug perfect, but you are not a machine. I guess you are looking for perfection where perfection is already reached. Blocking it could be done with an iron and steam , no need for submerssion in water. You also will need to stretch it , somehow.

Tom Hart's picture

You're absolutely right, Andy. I think I'm just being needlessly and ridiculously fussy. It's coming out perfectly right off the needles. Thanks for helping me see that.

Back in my Grandmother's day, she used naphtha to "dry clean" stuff at home. I would NOT reccoment this---not healthy for humans and incredibly flammable. I would try putting the rug in the dryer in its dry state and tumbling it for just a few minutes---that may help jiggle the stitches into regularity.

Tom Hart's picture

That's a great idea! I think I may just do that.