Friday, October 31

Blocking Crochet: Five Methods

Five Crochet Blocking Methods to Know About

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 –from least to most aggressive:

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

Same love knots, "dry blocked(method #1; 
I used the crochet hook to help open them up)
  1. 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. 
  2. 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. This method is my personal favorite. I blogged about it back in 2010. I also combine with methods 3 or 4 below, but only when I must: 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 simply 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.
  3. Wet block: Fully immersed in water. You can soak plant fibers like cotton, linen, hemp, rayon in warm or cool water a bit. This is Doris' favorite method. For wools, immerse briefly in cool water to avoid fulling (felting), then remove excess water gently before spreading out on a toweled surface to dry. I like to add a little hair conditioner to the water if the yarn is wool or silk. ShamWow super absorbent microfiber cloths are really helpful for speeding up the drying. I use them instead of, or on top of a bath towel on a table.
  4. Steam block acrylic yarns. This method can really pay off if you carefully test first. Steam blocking is an art that can bring out extra softness and luster in some silk, camel, and llama fibers too.
  5. Pin or stretch on blocking wires while wet or steamed. Personally and non-professionally, I have only ever pinned crocheted snowflakes. The most important thing about pinning 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.

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

Here are some special blocking considerations:


Picots 

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, 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.
Tunisian filet-style crochet swatches UNBLOCKED

Mixed colors and other yarn 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.

Lace, especially Tunisian crochet lace and filet crochet 

Same Tunisian crochet swatches, wet blocked (method #3.)
These respond great to wet blocking. Also very careful steam blocking if you used acrylic yarn. Aim for squared filet eyelets. For Tunisian crochet lace, tug on the return pass lines to straighten evenly. Tug vertically on extended Tunisian stitches to fully extend them, if you used them. 

Garments

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 all the 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. Steaming some animal fibers will soften them enough to wear against the neck.

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!