Friday, October 31

Blocking Crochet: Five Methods

I recently updated this post and created a permanent page for it at my new website!

One of the methods below could be the perfect finishing touch for your next crochet project, depending on your yarn and project type. It also depends on your own preferences. Each crocheter has a favorite method.

Special considerations for a specific stitch, technique, or project follow.

Five Crochet Blocking Methods

This is how love knots crocheted in wire look at first.

 Listed from the least aggressive to most.
Same love knots, "dry blocked(method #1; 
I used the crochet hook to help open them up)

Dry Block

A.k.a. hand iron. Every crocheter has done this without even knowing that it has a name. Stretch, spread out, and flatten your crochet piece on something flat. 

One's knee always seems to be nearby! Using one's knee or upper leg is not too bad for a small item, especially if you're wearing jeans or other fabric that provides a bit of friction. (Don't use it for measuring a gauge swatch though!) 

If your surface is hard and flat, such as a table, you can also press it, i.e. "hand-iron" it. 

Personally I almost never use this method.

Damp Block

A.k.a. spray block, and block with mist. Spritz liberally with water, especially the edges, then spread out on a toweled surface to dry. It's ideal for a quick block as you crochet every 8 inches or so of rows. Especially if you use yarns that respond dramatically to it like I tend to do, such as those with at least 20% rayon/viscose/tencel content.

This method is my personal favorite. I blogged about it back in 2010. I also combine it with methods 3 or 4 below: damp block while crocheting, then a final wet block when the project is completed. I prefer damp blocking partly because it's the most portable, and partly because it's fast. For most of the year here in humid Florida, wet things take too long to dry! 

Use a bath towel on a flat surface; the towel will provide some friction that I find in most cases replaces the need for pins.

Wet Block

Fully immerse it in water. This is Doris' favorite methodYou can soak plant fibers like cotton, linen, hemp, rayon in warm or cool water a bit. 

For non-superwash wools, immerse briefly in cool water to avoid fulling (felting), then remove excess water gently before spreading out on a toweled surface to dry. ShamWow super absorbent microfiber cloths help to speed up the drying here in humid Florida. I use them instead of/on top of a bath towel on a table.

I like to add a little hair conditioner to the water if the yarn is wool or silk. 

Steam Block 

When it comes to crocheting clothing with drape, I'm looking at you, acrylic yarns. Blocking with steam is an aggressive method, so you must first carefully test, each time. 

It can really pay off! It gives some acrylic yarns the beautiful sheen and drape of silk

Using steam blocking is an art that can bring out extra softness and luster in some silk, camel, and llama fibers too. More on this below.

Pin It, or Stretch on Blocking Wires

This is the most aggressive blocking method and so there is an art to doing it the optimal way. (You don't want to block a stretched, stringy, stressed appearance into the yarn or stitches, or leave permanent dents in stitches from the pins.) It's combined with wet blocking.

Personally and non-professionally, I have only ever pinned crocheted snowflakes. I usually see this method used for afghan squares before seaming them together, and for knitted lace. 

Perhaps the most important thing of all is to use rust proof pins! I don't own blocking wires, but I sure admire the knitted lace wraps that have been blocked with them.

Special Blocking Considerations

Blocking is actually an art, and you might enjoy this newsletter issue about that. 


Tug and pinch each picot to round it out and make it visible, adding more water to them than the rest of the stitches, if necessary. 

Love Knots

Most love knots are intended to be plump, like a semi-inflated balloon. If yours are, damp block them. Spritz lightly with mist and smooth gently in a way that doesn't flatten the love knots, nor weigh them down with too much water. You might feel like it's not worth blocking them at all, but I tested this in my love knot classes and people could tell the difference.
UNBLOCKED Tunisian filet-style leaning crochet swatches

Yarn Color Issues

If the yarns you used might give off some excess dye, avoid wet blocking. Use light spray blocking instead. Maybe combine light mist with heavy #1 and/or #5.

Special Laces  

WET BLOCKED to remove biasing. (method #3.)
Tunisian crochet lace and filet crochet respond great to wet blocking (also very careful steam blocking if you used acrylic yarn). 

Aim for squared filet eyelets. 

For Tunisian crochet lace specifically: tug on the return pass lines to straighten evenly. Tug vertically more gently. On extended Tunisian stitches to fully extend them, if you used them, you must tug on them vertically to open them up. 


Wet blocking is the method here for a stylish fit, silhouette, and an elegantly flowing, breezy movement. See Doris Chan's blog post. If you used acrylic yarn, steam blocking can bring out fashion drape and gleam as if you used silk! 

Be sure to block the accessories that need to drape stylishly, such as wraps, scarves, collars, and even necklaces. 

Tip!: Steaming some animal fibers will soften them enough to wear around the neck. This came in handy for a men's scarf I crocheted in a yarn that had camel hair content!

Home Decor

Especially doilies, snowflakes, and afghan squares; also flowers and other appliques: These are the projects I have the least amount of experience blocking by any method. The most notable thing about them is that they usually need to be as perfectly flat and square, or round, as possible. Wet blocking with pins or wires is common. Sometimes starch is added (especially for snowflakes). 

And finally...for all blocked items by all methods:

Let air dry completely, then admire your work and bask in the compliments! And remember: the best time to take photos of your work is right after it's blocked.

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