Crochet blocking will make a huge difference to your crochet pieces, whatever you are making. Read on to discover how to block crochet projects to give them a truly professional finish!
Crochet Blocking Tutorial
Whether you're making a delicate doily, a comfortable blanket, or a trendy garment, crochet blocking will make the difference between ordinary and outstanding. Blocking is a technique that a lot of people who crochet swear by, and there's a good reason for this. It is the secret ingredient that will turn your piece of crochet that is crumpled and lopsided into a magnificent piece that has even stitches, crisp lines, and a finished product that looks professional.
In this article, we'll go over all the ins and outs of blocking crochet to help you get the most out of your crochet projects and achieve their full potential.
What is Crochet Blocking?
Blocking is essentially a method of shaping your crochet (or knit) fabric using water to get an improved appearance. After adding moisture, the fabric gets shaped and then secured (usually with pins) before being allowed to dry. It is a very effective approach to even out tension and, especially for open work, to really highlight the pattern.
Blocking is also used to flatten areas where work has curled, to highlight stitch definition, and to improve the appearance of lacy or textured stitches. It is also used to shape parts of the crochet equally. Whether they are sweater panels or simple granny squares, the final pieces appear much better when their sections are precisely shaped.
When a design requires you to "block to size," it refers to the dimensions (size and shape) of the piece. Blocking can slightly increase the size of an item (depending on the stitch design), but it generally cannot reduce the size of an item.
Why do I Need to Block my Crochet?
Eliminating curling, enhancing drape, evening out the stitches, softening the fabric, getting straight edges, and shaping parts before sewing them up are just a few of the many advantages of blocking a crochet piece.
When to Block Crochet or Knitting?
You should block your crochet before seaming the pieces together so that they precisely form their intended shape. For example, making sure the edges of your sweater panels are straight can aid in the seaming process and produce better, neater results.
It is important to block the pieces before they have been sewn together. Because of the altered structure and tension introduced by the seam, the fabric changes slightly in the immediate vicinity of the join. Blocking the components separately prior to assembly is the method that works the best.
Once the tension has been relaxed and the stitches are more consistent, the fabric will also drape better. Also, your stitches will never be exactly alike, and blocking is a technique used to "blend" them.
When to block? As mentioned above, it is best to block your pieces before stitching them together, partly to get your pieces to the correct shape so that they fit together easily and partly because the seam will have a different tension to the crochet work, so it will not block evenly.
Do All Crochet Projects Need Blocking?
No. It is a good idea to block items such as lace, shawls, and apparel. It is not as important to block accessories like beanies, gloves, and other small items used for decorating the home. On the other hand, if a blanket or throw needs to be able to drape beautifully over the sofa, it might be a good idea to block it.
Should I block all crochet? In general, you should block anything that would be improved by additional drape, as well as anything that involves open work.
When working with lace stitch patterns, it is essential to spread out the fabric while blocking in order to open up the stitches and display the lovely negative space. If blocking lacework, start in the middle and work your way out in increments all around.
Blocking will actually help with any type of crocheting. It will, however, have the greatest impact on items made with natural fabrics such as wool and cotton.
Items that Need Crochet Blocking
These items will generally need to be blocked:
1. Gauge Swatches
If your crochet pattern calls for blocking the finished piece, you must block your gauge swatch before measuring it. This is due to the pattern gauge referring to the final stitch tension. Blocking can loosen your crochet stitches and change the tension.
2. Lace Crochet
Delicate crocheted shawls, scarves, skirts, and tops with lace stitches will appear even more stunning with blocking. Blocking is necessary while crocheting lace doilies to reveal the negative space between the stitches.
3. Crochet Socks
While blocking crochet socks may not appear to be necessary, employing a sock blocker will help shape your finished footwear to the ideal foot size.
4. Sweaters and Cardigans
Crochet cardigans and sweaters look best when the yarn flows easily and beautifully, resulting in a flattering drape. This is especially true with crocheted clothing with intricate shapes or design components, such as cables or tapestry colorwork.
5. Crochet Colorwork
Blocking can help to equalize the tension between color changes and make colorwork appear more sharp.
6. Curled Edges and Slanted Stitches
Some crochet stitches naturally curl at the edges. Blocking can assist in correcting slanting and uncurling edges that will not lay flat on their own.
7. Do Crochet Squares Need Blocking?
Small pieces like granny squares definitely need to be blocked. The blocking makes sure they are all the same size and will then be easier to stitch together neatly. It will also make the whole project look neat and professional.
Supplies for Blocking Crochet and Knitting
- A blocking board
- Rust-proof pins or blocking combs - Both knitting and crochet crafts require blocking pins. They are used to secure your fabric to the blocking mats. T-pins and U-pins are common blocking pin types.
- A steamer or steam iron,
- A spray bottle,
- Yarn labels - Yarn labels are needed to check the fiber content of your yarn to see which method of blocking will be best for you.
What is a Blocking Board
A blocking "board" must be a flat surface large enough to support the piece or components to be blocked. Pieces should not extend beyond the edges of the blocking board.
Cover the board with a thick towel, followed by a clean cotton cloth that has been laundered so that it does not bleed onto your work. While solids are usually the best choice, you can use a cloth with a large check print or stripes as a blocking guide.
Your blocking board must be placed in an area where it will not be disturbed until the blocking is completed, which can take anywhere from a few minutes to more than a day, depending on the circumstances. The board must be able to withstand pins, moisture, and heat. A guestroom bed or a wide, well-padded table—even a sheet-covered carpeted floor—work nicely for blocking large things like afghans or shawls.
You can purchase commercial blocking boards like the foam board pictured below. The grids are particularly useful. Consider also an old yoga mat or foam kid's floor mats.
How to Block Crochet, Step by Step Instructions
Different blocking processes are suited for different textiles and crochet creations. Let's look at the three most prevalent methods of blocking, as well as an alternative method if you don't have a foam mat, pins, or a steamer.
|Blocking Method||Best Yarn Fibers|
|Wet Blocking||Wool, Alpaca, Cashmere, Silk, Cotton, Linen, Bamboo|
|Steam Blocking||Acrylic, Wool (with caution), Alpaca, Rayon|
|Spray Blocking||Wool, Alpaca, Cashmere, Silk, Cotton, Linen, Bamboo|
1. Wet Blocking Crochet
This method involves soaking your final product in water before molding it to the desired dimensions. This is a great way to lengthen projects or smooth out flaws in your fabric.
- Fill a sink or basin halfway with warm water.
- Soak the fabric: Put the handmade item in lukewarm water and gently press it down to make sure it's completely wet. Soak the item for at least 20 minutes, then gently squeeze out the extra water. Do not twist or wring the crochet because this can damage the fibers. Some crocheters like to wet the item and take it out right away instead of letting it soak. You can also use this method if the fibers are wet enough to work with.
- Get Rid of Extra Water: Lay the piece flat on a clean towel and roll it up gently to get rid of any excess moisture.
- Pin to Shape: Use rustproof pins or blocking wires to pin your crochet to the right size. There may be a diagram with your pattern. If there is, use the numbers to make sure your finished item is the right size and shape.
- Remove: Make sure the yarn is completely dry before taking the pins out.
Wet Blocking Tip: You can use a fan or hairdryer on the cool setting to dry your fabric a little faster. Do not use high temperatures because this could damage the fibers. It is also not good to put your project in full sunlight.
2. Steam Blocking
Do you want to keep your newly finished work from getting wet in the tub? Steam could be a good choice. For this method, you will use a steam iron or clothing steamer to shape it.
- Add water to your iron or garment steamer and turn the steam setting all the way down.
- To dry, put the crocheted item on a blocking mat or a clean piece of cloth. Get rid of any wrinkles and smooth them out as much as possible.
- Hold the iron or steamer a few inches away from the yarn and direct the steam to one spot for about five seconds before going on to the next. Don’t rush this part. Work slowly and steadily.
- Once the steam has opened up the yarn fibers, gently shape the item to the size you want. Check that the edges are straight with a yardstick or the grid lines on your blocking mat.
- To hold the work in place, you can use T-pins, blocking wires, or blocking combs.
- Let the crochet cloth dry all the way through before taking the pins out.
3. Spray Blocking
This is one of the easiest and fastest ways to block your crochet.
Spray blocking is a simple method that involves using a spray bottle to cover an item with water. This method works great for fragile items that can't handle a lot of water.
Notice that spray blocking doesn't work as well on man-made fibers like polyester, acrylic, chenille, velour, and decorative yarns.
- Put your crochet project on a foam-blocking board or a clean towel to get rid of any twists or folds.
- Half-fill a spray bottle with clean water, and then mist the yarn all over.
- Carefully shape your object to the size you want.
- T-pins, blocking wires, or blocking combs can be used to shape the fabric and hold it in place.
- Allow the crochet fabric to dry completely before removing the pins.
4. Crochet Blocking without a Board
Don't worry if you don’t have a blocking board, mat, or pins. You can still block your crochet item using items you probably already have at home.
Here's how to block your crochet without any additional equipment:
- Follow the wet-blocking instructions above.
- Once your project's excess water has been removed, dry your crochet on a clean, dry cloth on a flat surface.
- Reshape your item as needed. You may be able to press T-pins into your carpet and rug pad below, similar to a blocking board, depending on your flooring and resources.
This method will not work in a household with pets or small children
5. Large Projects Like Blanket Blocking
For large crochet projects like blankets and afghans, your blocking board may be too small.
Instead of pinning down your project after wet or spray blocking, lay it flat on a large sheet. Just make sure the yarn is completely dry before transporting it.
6. Granny Square Blocking Boards
You can purchase wooden boards designed for blocking granny squares. These smaller boards come with pegs you can put into the corner of your granny squares to straighten them out. Once pegged, you can wet or spray the square and let it dry in shape.
Best Methods for Blocking Different Fibers
Check the yarn label for the type of fibers it contains. The best method of crochet blocking depends on the type of yarn. The label will also contain the washing instructions.
Blocking Animal Fibers (Wool)
When blocking an animal fiber project, the fabric can be stretched to the desired dimensions. The stitches remain blocked when the fabric dries. Until water is reintroduced, the fabric will retain its shape. When water is introduced again, the fabric returns to its original shape.
Blocking Plant Fibers (Cotton, Linen)
Plant fibers differ from animal fibers in composition. When they are blocked, they will behave differently. Cotton, for example, is incredibly inelastic and has no memory. If you're not careful, you can permanently stretch the cotton.
Blocking Synthetic Fibers (Acrylic)
Acrylic yarn or artificial fibers need stem or spray blocking. Do not touch them with the surface of your iron! If you add too much heat, the fiber will become limp and shapeless.
FAQ’s About Blocking Crochet
Is it crochet blocking permanent?
The short answer is no, but once again, it depends on what fiber you are using. Pure wool, for example, has a memory and may retain its blocked shape even after washing. Other fibers, like acrylic, may need a bit of reshaping.
But you don't have to go through the whole ordeal with blocking mats and pins again. Simply lay the piece flat to dry and mold it as needed with your fingertips.
Because blocking isn't permanent for every project, your sweater may eventually return to its original shape after washing. This is particularly true for natural fibers. When this occurs, stretch the wet piece out, shape it back to the desired dimensions, and let it dry flat. It will be back to the garment you had before washing.
Do You Need To Block Granny Squares?
Yes, it is certainly advisable. You're not alone if your square won't lay flat or if the rounded corners annoy you. No matter how skilled you are, a square rarely comes out completely square the first time.
You should, indeed, block your squares. Blocking granny squares (or any other type of square) gives them a more professional appearance and helps you create a completely square shape.
What Happens If You Don’t Block Your Crochet?
If someone has been knitting and crocheting for a long time without blocking, you might think it's not that important. And you might be right; it's fine not to block your finished work at all. The crochet is not going to be lost or destroyed!
For now, not blocking your things won't change anything about them, but you are missing out on a great (and very easy) chance to give your project a clean, finished look and make it the exact shape and size you wanted when you started it. Isn't that what you wanted all along?
You may be one of the lucky crocheters who makes a piece with perfectly straight lines and borders and the right size measurements with perfect tension that match the pattern's gauge exactly. But your project will only look good until you wash it.
Based on the type of fibers in the yarn, a garment that was once tightly knitted or crocheted will either become too big with floppy, stretched stitches that have lost a lot of their beautiful definition, or even worse, it will shrink and become stiff, making it impossible to wear.
So, in short, you don’t have to block your crochet, but it is well worth the time to do so!
Does Blocking Make Crochet Look Softer?
Yes, it most definitely does. It will improve the drape of your crochet fabric immensely. This is, in fact, one of the major advantages of taking the time to block your work.
Do You Have to Block Every Time You Wash an Item?
You do not need to block your crochet or knitting after each wash unless you are working with lace. Although it is possible to block after each wash, it is not required for the majority of crochet fabrics. It also depends on the fiber you have used and it’s “memory.” The best answer to this question is to have a look at your item or garment. Has it become misshapen in the wash? If so, block it and re-shape it.
How Do You Block Without Special Equipment?
If you are blocking small items (such as granny squares), you can use an ironing board. You could cover a large couch cushion with a towel. If it is a large item, you can spread a sheet tightly over a bed or over the floor if it is carpeted.
Some people use yoga mats as blocking boards or those dense foam children's mats that interlock like puzzle pieces. It is better not to block on a wooden table unless you are certain the wood is 100% protected from moisture.
If you don’t want to buy the special blocking pins, you can use normal flat-headed sewing pins, but they aren't quite as firm.
Crochet Blocking In Conclusion
This article has shown why crochet blocking is an important phase in the process. From shaping objects to correcting uneven stitches, opening up lacework, and determining the size of your pieces, crochet blocking allows you to enhance the beauty of your work and make your crafts completely your own.
Finally, don't block your project if you don't think it will make it look better or be bigger. We all want to get to the next project quickly and efficiently. There are some things that really don't need to be blocked, like projects that aren't meant to be worn. Toys or pillow covers don’t need blocking because the stuffing will stretch them and keep them in shape.