I usually wet-block my knitting projects, if I block them at all, but there might be reasons that you wouldn’t want to do that. Perhaps you’re working with a delicate fiber, or the project is huge and would stretch unpleasantly if it were wet, or you have a lace pattern you want to take extra care with, or maybe you want to use the garment later that same day so you don’t want to get it soaking wet.
In those cases it’s great to steam-block your knits. Steam blocking — either with an iron or a dedicated steamer — pushes the steam into the garment, relaxing the fibers and fixing them in place as wet blocking would do, but without getting the garment sopping wet.
The good folks at Rowenta recently sent me for review the Rowenta Ultra Steambrush DR6015, which is considered a travel steamer and would be great for freshening clothes on a trip as well as getting your knits in tip-top shape.
The Rowenta Ultra Steambrush has a wide steam head for vertical steaming (it works horizontally, too) and comes with a clothes brush attachment and a lint brush (which does not work with the steamer, it’s just a handy thing to have when you’re sprucing up your clothes.
Its reservoir holds 1.7 ounces of water and is pretty easy to get into and get locked back into place.
There’s no on/off switch, just plug it in and wait for it to warm up. I found it kind of strange that the light comes on when it’s not hot and goes off when it’s ready, but that’s a minor quibble.
The trigger is large and easy to use, and the product also has a hanging hook for storage, if you want to use it. It also comes with a bag you can stow it in when you travel.
I decided to try the steamer out on a shawl that I knit a while ago and have used without blocking. I liked it fine that way but knew the eyelets could open up more and make the shawl bigger.
The key with steam blocking is that you have to pin the item out to the size you want before you get started, so grab your blocking board and pins or whatever supplies you use and pin the garment as you desire.
Once it’s all pinned out, fill the tank of the steamer and plug in. It says it takes about 50 seconds to warm up, but I’m sure it varies.
Once warm, hold the steamer about six inches from the garment and pull the trigger. You’re basically shooting the steam into the garment. One good shot all over should do it. You’re not trying to get the garment wet.
Let it sit for a few hours and unpin. Repeat as necessary to get the whole garment done.
I’m really happy with the result and would certainly use this again for knits and other light-duty projects.
A hand steamer is made for getting wrinkles out of garments, of course, so I decided to test it on one of my wrinkliest pieces of clothing. This rayon dress gets hand washed and wrinkles like crazy when it hangs to dry.
This proved to be a bit too much of a challenge for this little machine, though there was improvement. I’m sure it would be up to getting minor wrinkles out of garments when you travel if they looked good when you packed them. It’s more of a touch-up machine than something that can replace your iron.
And speaking of irons, Rowenta was kind enough to also send me an iron to review, so stay tuned for that one.
Have you ever steam-blocked your knitting? Do you prefer it to wet blocking? I’d love to hear what you think.
By Sarah White