It does a sock good. Blocking in this case adds the “Surprise!” to the Surprise! Socks, not to mention making them look much more visually appealing, adding crispness to the lace and, most importantly, making the socks cling to the legs and stay up instead of scrunching down.
Both Surprise! Socks are now knitted and blocked, just in time for the weather around here to finally get Fall-worthy.
How to block these socks? You may notice a total lack of sock blockers. In this case, that’s because the ultimate goal here is to make the circumference of the sock cuff very narrow. That way the lace ribbing will have to streeeeeetch (and being lace, and ribbing, it has stretch!) to fit over the ankle and lower calf. In this case, I soaked the socks in water-and-shampoo (I use Suave for Curly Hair with leave-in Conditioner, for no real reason other than it’s what’s around), then took them out and squeezed (no rubbing or wringing, just squeezed) the water out. Since these socks are superwash, I didn’t have to be this nice with them, but it never hurts.
To block, I grabbed the toe in one hand and the top of the cuff in the other and stretched the sock. Not too strenuously, but definitely pulling on each end. This straightened out the ribbing and helped flatten the decreases in the yo,k2tog pairs used to make the lace ribbing effect (you can see in the picture above that the ribs unblocked are somewhat bumpy– all the bumps are k2togs). I then hung the sock, foot down, over a nearby edge (in one case a drum kit bar, in the other a lampshade) so that the weight of the foot would pull on the leg ribbing even more, keeping things straight and taut as the sock dried.
Note: This sort of blocking makes the cuff seem really long. In reality, wearing the sock will stretch the cuff horizontally and shrink it vertically, so that so-long cuff when blocked will be at just the right height when worn. My perception is that the cuff height pre-blocking is about equal to the cuff height when the socks are worn, so it shouldn’t be hard to get the cuffs the right length when knitting. Just don’t second-guess yourself when you start to block and things stretch out.
All this fuss probably isn’t necessary– my guess is that, if I were to simply wash them in the washer and dry them in the dryer, they’d turn out about the same as the sock on the left, above. But you can’t be too careful! If the socks do deform in the dryer after being worn, I’ll take more photos and talk about it.