Ever read the phrase, “Block to finished measurements” and shuddered? Maybe even scoffed?
If that’s you, worry no more. Trust me–I was exactly like you. I read that blocking phrase and shuddered. I even scoffed, thinking there was absolutely no reason to block. On the one hand, I didn’t have any idea how to block. On the other hand, I had no desire to learn. It wasn’t worth my time, I said.
Although I was just like you, I am SO glad I didn’t stay that way forever. Let me tell you–once you start blocking, you will never go back. Not convinced? I probably woudn’t have been either. Let me show you a couple pictures to get you thinking:
Here is a swatch of a cowl I was in the process of making. As you can see, it is not very attractive, but wrinkled and squished together.
Here is the same cowl laid out while blocking.
And here it is completely finished. Is it just me, or does blocking make a HUGE difference? After being blocked, you can see the whole point of the stitch pattern. In the case of this cowl, it looks like a honeycomb, with little alternating hexagons. Are you convinced yet? Blocking matters, especially in lacework like this cowl. Usually it is even crucial to the finished look of your work.
So how can you block your projects? Well, step one: don’t be afraid! Seriously—if you treat blocking like a scary monster, you will never take the jump and start doing it. Trust me, it’s not as hard as you might think. I can hardly believe I’m saying this, but I actually enjoy blocking now! It has become a step in crocheting that I look forward to greatly, and it can be that way for you too! Keep reading to learn how to block your projects yourself. I will show you three easy methods, and walk you through each one step by step.
Before we dive in, let me give you a little summary of the three methods you can use to block. The first one is called wet blocking. Personally, this is my favorite method. It is perfect for all types of natural fibers, and will ensure that your project can stretch fully and also maintain it’s form after use.
The next method is spray blocking. Spray blocking is perfect for smaller projects, ones that need to be block, but not stretch drastically. Again, this method works for natural fibers.
The last method is steam blocking. This one was the scariest for me to try— but it’s actually not as bad as I thought! Steam blocking is for acrylic yarn, and it will TRANSFORM your crochet experience. I’m serious. The cowl I showed you pictures of was steam blocked; it actually amazed me how well it worked!
So wait no longer! Let’s dive into these methods together!
Method 1: Wet Blocking
Use this method if:
- Your project is made out of any natural fiber
- You have a project that needs to be stretched or shaped a lot
Do NOT use this method if your project is made out of acrylic yarn. Unlike natural fibers, moisture does not affect acrylic.
- A sink
- 2 towels (or 1 towel and a blocking board, if desired)
- Pins (rust-proof is best, see below)
Fill a sink with cold or lukewarm water. Since you’re using natural fibers with wet blocking, you don’t want the water to be hot. (Unless, of course, you’re aiming to felt it–which would be the opposite of blocking!😝)
Put your project in the water, fully immersing it.
Let your project soak. You want to let it sit until it becomes completely saturated. I normally let mine sit for 15-20 minutes. If your project is large, you may want to rotate it halfway through to make sure the whole thing is wet enough.
Drain the sink. Take your project and carefully squeeze the water out. DO NOT twist it when you squeeze, as this can cause it to lose shape. Instead, take large sections and squeeze gently, pressing the water out. Note that you will not get all the water out this way. That’s what the next step is for…
Take a towel and roll your project in it. Press down gently all over the towel in order to soak up any excess water.
Take another towel and lay it out flat. Spread your crochet project on it. You can use a blocking board instead of a towel if you’d like, but in my experience a towel works perfectly fine.
Pin your project to the towel. Adjust the stitches to lay exactly how you want it to look when finished. Don’t be afraid to stretch the fabric out a lot—that’s exactly the point of wet blocking!
Let your project dry completely. I usually let mine sit overnight to ensure it is fully dry. Finally, take out the pins, and you’re all done!
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Method 2: Spray Blocking
Use this method if:
- Your project is made out of natural fibers
- Your project does not need to be stretched drastically
- You need to get your blocking done in a small amount of time
Don’t use this method if your project needs to be shaped and stretched a lot. For that type of project, use wet blocking instead.
- Towel (or blocking board, if desired)
- Spray bottle
Lay your project out on a towel (or a blocking board) and pin it down.
Fill a spray bottle with water, and spray your project until it is damp. (If your project needs to be fully soaked to block and stretch well, you should use wet blocking instead of spray blocking).
Allow your project to dry, and remove pins. That’s all there is to it!
Method 3: Steam Blocking
Use this method if:
- Your project is made of acrylic yarn
- Your project needs to be stretched a lot
- Pins (optional)
- Iron with a steam setting
Lay your project out on a towel. If it needs to be stretched drastically (like the lace cowl I showed at the beginning), you will want to pin it to the towel. However, with some projects (especially something that’s not lace) pinning isn’t necessary.
Prepare your iron. Fill it with water, set it to the “steam” setting, and let it heat up.
Hover the iron over your project. Do not EVER touch the iron to the crocheting, or your project will MELT. This is because acrylic yarn is essentially made out of plastic. Crafters call this “killing” your project. However, you still have to hover the iron at least an inch above your project. As long as the iron never physically touches the yarn, you’ll be fine. You can get as close to your project as you want, but be careful.
Don’t be shy with the steam, but let it keep going until your project is slightly damp. After this, remove the pins. (If you didn’t pin your project down, you’re all done!)
And there are your three blocking methods! Not too complicated, right? As you practice each method, it will get easier and easier. You might even find that you enjoy it! If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to help! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Pinterest for lots more crochet inspiration! To view last week’s post, a tutorial on foundation single crochet, click here. Coming up next week: a crochet lace tutorial, with tips and tricks for designing!
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— Rachel 🙂