With the amount of time and effort you put into your crocheting, you want your finished project to look fabulous. That’s where blocking comes in. Learning to block your crochet is a worthwhile skill.
A transformation happens when blocking crochet to add that extra special something to your finished projects.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Blocking In Crochet?
- All The Wonderful Reasons to Block
- Do I have To Block Crochet?
- Crochet Projects That Benefit From Blocking
- Things To Be Aware Of When Blocking Your Crochet Projects
- Materials & Equipment
- Blocking Tips For Different Fibers
- How To Block Crochet: Blocking Methods
- Wet Blocking
- Misting or Spray Blocking
- Steam Blocking
What Is Blocking In Crochet?
In crochet and textile crafts, blocking is the process of wetting/soaking or steaming your finished garments.
This sets their shape and stitches by being stretched out on a flat surface to dry. If you’ve ever crocheted a shawl and ended up with the “sting ray” effect, blocking can help even out the edges.
Blocking evens the stitches and increases the level of drape. It can be used on so many projects: sweaters, shawls, ponchos, afghans, blankets, lacework, hats, scarves, gloves and socks.
Blocking can only be applied to natural fibers. There’s a technique for synthetic fibers called ‘Killing’ which adds more drape to a crocheted acrylic fabric.
Blocking is used before sewing crocheted pieces together. When you’ve finished sewing everything together, you can steam block the seams for a lovely finish.
Some crocheters prefer to block after they’ve finished their garment, if it’s crocheted in one piece like a seamless sweater.
All The Wonderful Reasons to Block
- Blocking straightens stitches and evens the tension in your crocheting. It defines intricate patterns and relaxes the stitches. By blocking your pieces and pinning them down to dry, you relax the yarn and dry it evenly.
- When working an intricate stitch pattern it’s important to block, this opens up the design.
- A good soaking washes excess dye from the yarn.
- Blocking improves your crocheted project by creating a smooth, flat look. Crochet can get a bit crumpled when we’re working on our projects.
- If you have pets a good soak removes unwanted hair.
Do I Have To Block Crochet?
You don’t have to. If there’s no adjustment or finishing that needs to be done with blocking, you can skip the blocking.
Don’t block yarns like lurex (a metallic yarn) or novelty yarns.
Items like amigurumi do not need blocking, where as accessories and homewears could be blocked or not. You might be able to get away with a pillow cover or lap blanket not being blocked.
Garments definitely benefit from blocking.
A minimum for most finished crochet projects is a quick wash and flat dry.
Crochet Projects That Benefit From Blocking:
- Shawls / Scarves
- Squares for blankets
- Finished blankets
- Anything with lace stitches
- Open work items or fillet crochet
Things To Be Aware Of When Blocking Your Crochet Projects
Most yarns spring back when you pull them. Over-blocking makes the yarn lose its bounce.
This causes too much drape and flattens out textured stitches like cables.
Remember, gently and carefully.
Material & Equipment
- Sink or clean bucket
- Rust proof T-Pins or good quality sewing pins
Don’t use your best white fluffy towels (there’s the risk the dye will come out of the yarn). Use older clean towels instead.
Nice to have
- Wool Wash or Baby Shampoo
- Blocking Mats
- Stainless Steel Blocking Wires (these are great for shawls and larger projects.
Blocking Mats / Blocking Boards
A blocking mat is a great choice. Some have grid markings to help you measure. Blocking mats are made of foamy material, easy to pin into.
Most are made from foam tiles that fit together to make a complete board.
We Crochet has blocking mats that pack up into a carry case. They come in a pack of nine. The foam mats are half an inch thick and measure 12×12″.
One side is textured and the other is smooth with a printed 1 inch grid.
No Blocking Mat? No Stress!
If you don’t have a blocking mat, you can use almost any flat surface.
Here are some tips:
- A table or a kitchen bench laid with towels is great for garments that can be put into place by hand, no pins necessary.
- If you’re trying to block a lace project, such as a shawl, you’ll need to pin it out on a foam or cork bulletin board, or large flattened out cardboard boxes.
- Your crochet has to dry for a while. Put your project somewhere out of the way. The surface gets damp, don’t use a surface that will mark with moisture.
Stainless Steel Blocking Wires
These wires straighten out edges of shawls. There are also flexible blocking wires for crochet, great for curves on shawls. These aren’t essential but useful.
An alternative for straight edges is the String Method.
A long length of smooth scrap yarn threaded through a darning needle and the yarn is threaded along the edges.
Here are recommendations for blocking wires:
Lace Blocking Wires by We Crochet
The We Crochet Lace Blocking Wires Set comes with 15 (34.5″/880mm long) straight wires (15 refers to the thickness of the wire), 20 nickel-plated T-pins and blocking instructions. All wires are stainless steel and rust-proof.
TIP- Before using your blocking wires, wipe them with a soft cloth to remove manufacturing residue.
Take Personally Knit Blocking Wires
This kit made in the USA contains:
- Twelve 36 inch rigid wires
- Two 24 inch flex wires
- Twenty steel T pins
- Wire blocking instructions
- Sturdy storage tube
- Measuring tape
If you’re trying to block a garment, the best pins for blocking are T-pins. Sewing pins work well too, make sure they’re rust-free.
We Crochet T Pins are made from nickel-plated steel. They’re rust resistant and 1.5 inches long. Perfect for all garments and shawls.
Knitter’s Pride Knit Blockers Set
12 blockers with 8 pins and 8 blockers with 4 pins.
The blocking squares are made of a dense, sturdy plastic. The pins are rust resistant and stainless steel.
Wool Wash keeps your items squeaky clean, and smelling great!
Such brands are Soak Wash where you don’t have to rinse out with water.
If you don’t have wool wash, use mild baby shampoo or delicate dish soap. Remember you’ll need to rinse with clean water once or twice.
On a flat surface, a blocking mat is ideal. Pin the crocheted item around the edges, placing the pins at an angle, with the top of the pin pointing away from the garment.
Place the first in the top center, moving to the bottom center as you pin the piece to the correct length.
Pin your work to the correct width (if blocking a sweater, start with the bust width). Fill in around the edges, always referring to your finished measurements.
Blocking Tips For Different Fibers
- Natural fibers like wool & alpaca benefit most from full wash blocking.
- Cotton is robust and can be difficult to block. Wet blocking will give best effects. Using starch on fine work helps to stiffen the crochet thread.
- For fibers such as wool blends, mohair, angora, cashmere, and acrylic and synthetics, it’s recommended to spritz/spray block. (This is like the washing method, but you spritz the fabric until it is quite wet, with a spray bottle. You don’t soak it completely.)
- Steam blocking is an alternative method using heat and moisture. Never use a heat method on silk as it is too delicate. This method is good for cotton and linen.
How Do I Block Acrylic Yarn?
Spray block acrylic yarn. If you want to change the drap of your acrylic garment the method of “Killing” can be applied.
‘Killing’ is when you steam block acrylic yarn.
Grab your acrylic work, and lay it on the ironing board. Using the steam setting on your iron go over your crocheted project but don’t touch the iron to your work. It will melt the yarn or completely flatten it.
Once you’ve ‘killed’ a garment, you can’t restore it to it’s original shape. Be sure that you want to apply this technique.
How To Block Crochet: Blocking Methods
Three main blocking techniques you can use:
This method is washing the crocheted item by immersing it in water and letting it soak to relax the fibers. Also known as Immersion Blocking.
Benefits Of Wet Blocking Crochet:
- Blocking’s main purpose is to relax the fiber and stitches. The settling process evens out flaws and defines the stitch pattern.
- Giving yarn a wash rinses away any residue.
- Excess dye can come out of the fibers from some hand dyed yarns and other commercial yarns. Soaking your crochet helps the fiber release the extra dye.
- It improves the drape of a garment.
- In most patterns, particularly sweaters, the way it fits happens after you block. That’s why gauge swatches are meant to be blocked as well. It shows you how the garment behaves after you’ve blocked it.
- Fill a sink or bucket with lukewarm water. (Lukewarm water feels a little warmer than your body temperature)
- Squirt some Wool Wash or baby shampoo into a sink/bucket but not too much as you’ll have lots of rinsing to do. (Some detergents like Soak you don’t have to rinse at all)
- Give it a good mix.
- Place your crocheted item in the sink/bucket, make sure it’s nice and wet.
- Leave it while it soaks, don’t dunk it.
- Let it soak for 10-30 mins depending on the fiber you’ve used.
- While soaking, start setting up.
- Grab a older towel from your cupboard.
- Lay it out on a chosen surface.
- If you’re using a blocking mat, you may want to interlock more than one, depending on the size of your garment.
- Return to the sink/bucket, drain away the water.
- Squeeze your crochet (don’t wring!) to get out the most water. Be gentle. Press your item against the tub or basin edges to remove of the rest.
- Place in a soft dry towel or two. Roll up the towel to get any extra moisture out of your work.
- Stomping gently on the rolled up towel will help remove extra water.
- Lay your crocheted items on the blocking mat/towel
- Gently press/stretch out to the desired length and width.
- Grab some t-pins (or rust proof sewing pins) pin every few inches around the perimeter.
- Some patterns will give you measurements for length and width when blocked. Be sure to read those.
- Let your crochet dry. This can take up to 1-2 days.
- Wait until everything is completely dry before you unpin it
- You’ll be delighted at the transformation 🙂
- 12″ Blocking Mats
- Blocking Pins
- Soak Wash – Travel Pack Assorted
- Instruction Labels
- Knit Picks Lint Shaver
Misting or Spray Blocking
Misting or spray blocking is an excellent option if you’re a beginner or unsure how it will turn out.
Step 1 – Lay your newly finished work onto a soft towel. Put the towel on a flat surface, preferably where you don’t need to disturb it.
Step 2 – Grab a clean mist bottle, fill with water, and lightly mist your work.
Step 3 – When quite damp but not soaked, gently pull your crocheted item into the finished/desired measurements.
Step 4 – Use pins to keep the work in place.
This blocking technique is a gentle method that doesn’t require you to soak your crochet. You only need a steam iron. Sometimes also called ‘dry blocking’,
- Steam Iron
- Blocking Mats
Step 1 – Place your crocheted piece on the blocking mat and pin it using T-Pins.
Step 2 – Use the hottest setting for steam on your iron, go over your item WITHOUT pressing down. That’s really important!
Step 3. After steaming let the work cool a little, flatten out any wonky stitches.
Step 4. Let the pieces cool down and dry. Then you’re ready to sew.
So there are many options for blocking but make sure you use the one that works best with the fiber you’ve chosen.
I’d love to hear how you get on if you give blocking a go. I have learned that it is really worth the effort for that extra finished look.
Something I forgot? Or have a question? Please comment below.