Overprint Crochet Along

Everything I know about blocking knit and crochet

I’m pretty bonkers for blocking.  It’s magical: stitches smooth out, edges sharpen, pieces lie flat – what’s not to love?  Blocking really gives your work a professional finish and  it’s a heck of a lot easier to sew pieces together when they are all the right shape and size. ***Note: Product mentions are my personal choices and I am not paid to promote them.*** What is blocking? Blocking is the process of smoothing out and shaping your knit or crochet pieces generally through dampening and pinning in place.  A bunch of wonky squares ready for blocking!   Do I need to block everything? Short answer?  No: though it won’t hurt.  I wouldn’t want to try to block an entire afghan, but granny squares?  Sweater pieces?  Definitely.  Openwork stitches like lace must be blocked in order to see the patterns in their full glory.   Can I block any kind of yarn? Yes, though some yarns block better than others.  Natural fibres like wool, cotton and mohair block like a dream.  Synthetics like acrylic and polyester are a little less responsive to blocking, but can still benefit from the blocking process.  You’ll also want to choose the blocking method best suited to your fibre (see notations below)   3 Methods for blocking knit and crochet 1. How to wet block knit and crochet BEST USED FOR: Most fibres.  NOT GREAT FOR:  Cashmere, silk, angora, fine-weight single ply yarns, very large pieces like blankets  PROS: Most effective/transformative blocking method CONS: Most time-consuming blocking method Wet-blocking requires completely soaking your knit or crochet piece. This means it’s the most time consuming blocking method as you need to allow time for your piece to air-dry.  Delicate fibres like cashmere, silk and fine-weight, single-ply yarns are vulnerable to breakage when wet, so proceed with caution (or try the steam or spray blocking method). 1.  Fill a bowl (or sink) with warm water and add a dash of wool wash / no rinse wash  if desired. Do not use hot water, especially with animal fibres like wool, which could cause your fabric to felt (or “full”).  Cold water will work fine, it’s just chilly on the hands! 2. Add your knit or crochet piece, ensuring it is  fully immersed.  If concerned about colour bleeding, use separate bowls for each colour.  Avoid moving things around too much when blocking animal fibres as agitation+heat+water= felting. 3. Allow your work to soak for long enough that the fabric is fully saturated.  This can vary from project to project depending on what fibre you use and how dense your stitches are.  I usually leave things to soak while I do other things and it could be hours before I get back to business.  Too long isn’t a problem!   4. Remove your knit or crochet from it’s bath and gently squeeze out most of the water.  Gentle is the key. Don’t wring!  Twisting can be too rough and damage or distort your piece.  5. Optional: Lay your work on a towel, then roll it up.  Dance on that towel-roll!  Or you know,  just press it firmly.  This technique really gets out most of the water and will speed up your dry-time. 6. Pin your piece to desired measurements and allow to air-dry completely. 2. How to steam block knit and crochet BEST USED FOR: Natural fibres  NOT GREAT FOR:  Synthetics PROS: Quick CONS: Steam can melt acrylic, nylon and polyester Steam-blocking is a nice speedy blocking method and only requires a conventional iron with a steam setting.  If you have a garment steamer: bonus! Wool and cotton can handle the heat, but be careful with synthetics that could melt: make sure your iron surface doesn’t actually touch your work. Don’t forget to make sure your blocking surface can handle high heat as well.       Un-blocked square above, blocked square below. Blocking is magic! 1.  Heat your iron to the highest setting with full steam (or fire up that garment steamer).  2. Pin your dry piece(s) to desired measurements.   3. Holding your iron a few inches above your work, shoot your piece with a few blasts of steam. If using a garment steamer, hover the nozzle across the piece. Do not touch the surface of the iron or steamer to your work.  The idea is to have the steam penetrate your piece, but not to press or iron it.  4. If needed, manipulate/re-pin your pieces as needed while they are still warm and damp. 5. Allow your work to completely dry and cool before unpinning  3. How to spray block knit and crochet BEST USED FOR: All fibres, including delicates.  NOT GREAT FOR:  Very thick , bulky pieces  PROS: Gentle CONS: Less dramatic results Spray-blocking is the gentler cousin to steam blocking.  This is the method to use if you are using delicate fibres, or unsure of the fibre content of your yarn. 1. Pin your dry piece(s) to desired measurements.   2. Fill a clean spray bottle with water (cold is fine). 3. Give your piece(s) a good spray until quite damp. 4. Allow your work to completely dry and cool before unpinning   Pinning to Measurements The blocking process is great for stretching and smoothing your knit or crochet, but how to you make sure your pieces end up the size and shape you want?  “Pin your piece to desired measurements” is a little vague, so here are some tips for shaping up: •  MEASURE: Use a rigid ruler (wood, plastic, metal) instead of a tape measure  when you can.  Tape measures can twist and distort your measurements  • MARK: If it doesn’t already have one, mark your blocking surface with a grid if possible.  I drew a 1″ /2.5 cm grid on the cork tiles I use for blocking small pieces and it really comes in handy.  Make sure to use a permanent marker or something that won’t transfer to your work.  • STRETCH: The amount of stretching and pulling you want to do before pinning your piece down is up to you.   Most patterns include either a

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