Most patterns finish with: “Carefully block your project”.
Have you ever wondered what that last sentence means? Or have you been like me for years and just ignored it and enjoyed your project as soon as the last end is woven in (or even before that)?
No time right now? Pin this Blocking for crochet and knitting tutorial for later.
What is Crochet Blocking or Knitting Blocking?
Blocking for crochet or knitting is when you help your project take it’s best shape, usually with the help of water or steam.
Why Block Crochet and Knitting Projects
Blocking has a lot of advantages:
- It helps even your tension
- It opens up your lace stitches, eyelets etc.
- It helps shape your project (make granny squares perfectly square, make round pieces round etc).
- It gives drape, shine and softness to your fabric
Depending on the yarn composition the results will be different.
Natural fibers will take the blocking process best while synthetics are harder to block (more on that further down).
Materials for Blocking
To block your project you’ll need:
- A blocking board. This type of blocking boards are very popular as you can assemble them in the shape you want depending on your project, and pile them up when you’re done. They also have lines that will help you make sure your edges are straight (not my forte).
However, you don’t need to invest in blocking boards to block your crochet and/or knit project. You can use one of the following: a mattress, a yoga mat, a foam board, etc. Basically any flat surface you can pin into will work.
- Stainless steel T pins or Blocking pins. I use and recommend these. I’ve had them a couple of years and they’re still in their original condition. No rust or bending. I like the T shape as it makes them easy to pin and unpin.
3 Ways How to Block Crochet Projects and Knits
1. Finger Blocking
Finger blocking is when you use your fingers to pull and stretch the fabric into the desired shape. This can help a little but the effects will usually not last.
2. Wet Blocking
Wet blocking is when you completely wet your project to block it. This is the technique I use the most often. There are 2 ways to do this.
Soak your project in a bucket of water. I usually stick to room temperature water so I’m sure not to felt my project. You can add some gentle soap or blocking product to give it a good clean at the same time. Let it soak for 15 minutes to make sure all the fiber is soaked with water.
Take your project out of the water. Don’t squeeze or wrench it! Instead lay it flat on a clean towel. Roll and press to get as much water out of it without stretching the fabric.
Lay it flat on your blocking mat and pin it in place.
I like to add a lot of pins to be sure I’m not stretching my project one way or another. If you have lace sections or open stitches you can add pins there to help these sections take the shape you want.
For spraying, pin your dry project to your board and then spray room temperature water on your project until it’s soaked. Let it dry completely before removing the pins.
This technique has the advantage that you don’t risk overstretching the fabric but it takes more time to dry.
3. Steam Blocking
Wet blocking is great for wool, cotton and other natural fibers but doesn’t work well for acrylic yarn. That’s where steam blocking comes in handy.
For steam blocking, pin your dry project to your board as you would for spraying but instead of spraying water on the project, go over it with steam.
You can use a steamer or the steaming function on your iron. Place it 5 – 10 cm / 2″ – 4″ from your project to make sure you’re not melting or felting the fabric. Make sure you cover the entire project evenly. Let the project rest for 1-2h to make sure the humidity has evaporated before removing the pins.
Steam blocking works great for all types of fabric but can be dangerous. If you’re not careful, you can end up felting your natural fibers or melting/killing your synthetic fibers.
One great advantage of steaming is that it is much faster than wet blocking. Great for last-minute projects.
Do I Need to Block ALL my Projects?
Let’s be honest, this extra step of blocking can be a burden. Sometimes you just want to start enjoying your project directly. I get you!
Although it’s often worth the extra time to properly block your projects, I believe some projects don’t need blocking. If it has a 3D shape and you can’t lay it flat or if you like it exactly how it is you don’t need to block it.
A few examples of projects I didn’t block:
On the other hand, some projects really need to be blocked. Usually, anything that has an open stitchwork or lace stitch really benefits to be blocked.
Some examples of projects I blocked and it made a big difference:
Will blocking prevent my stockinette stitch from curling?
Yes, blocking will greatly help with stockinette stitch curling. But it might not get rid of it 100%. Depending on the material and your tension, you might still have some curling after blocking. A good practice to avoid that is to add a couple of purl stitches on the edges.
This is the technique I’ve used on the collar of the Appaloosa Sweater to avoid curling.
Can you block acrylic yarn?
Acrylic yarn is hard to block but I’ve had great results with steam blocking. It’s not as strong an impact as with cotton for example but it does make a difference! Your tension will be more even and your project will have more drape and flow.
Any other questions about blocking? Let me know in the comments below!