Blocking for Knitting and Crochet: Everything you Need to Know

Blocking for crochet and knitting

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.

How to block crochet and knitting projects

If you’re wondering I’ve used the Cherry Blossom Scarf in the pictures for this tutorial. You can find the free pattern here.

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.

A. Soaking

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.

Why block crochet : start by soaking your project in 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.

Why block crochet: roll it in a clean towel

Lay it flat on your blocking mat and pin it in place.

What is crochet blocking: 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.

B. Spraying

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:

FAQ

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!

Why block knitting? How to block crochet projects? All your blocking questions answered

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Megan Jo Gontz
    April 2, 2020 at 6:46 am

    I mainly use acrylic yarn for my projects (ie: baby blankets, throws, etc.) and would like to block them as I sell them for my business and want them looking their best. My problem is that my iron doesn’t steam and I can’t afford to buy a steamer. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Reply
      Hortense Maskens
      April 2, 2020 at 9:09 am

      Hi Megan,

      Pin them to your blocking board in the bathroom and run the shower on the hottest possible. Close all doors and windows so you create a steam room ????.

      That’s how my mom made us inhale steam when we were sick as kids but it should work the same for blocking ????.

      Leave it in there for a few minutes then let it cool and dry before removing the pins.

  • Reply
    Diane
    April 2, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Does a garment stay blocked when it’s washed?

    • Reply
      Hortense Maskens
      April 2, 2020 at 10:08 am

      Yes, up to a certain point. Once the fabric relaxes and is put into place it will keep that memory. But always put your makes to dry flat or it will stretch out.

  • Reply
    Ruthie
    April 7, 2020 at 9:00 am

    This is the best, most thorough explanation of blocking I have ever run across!!! Thank you very much!!!

  • Reply
    Sylvia Donnell
    May 1, 2020 at 4:35 am

    I’m not clear whether a top made from cotton yarn needs to be blocked every time it is washed. If I block it once, am I done? Or should I expect this to be an ongoing process? Thanks, newbie here so appreciate your input.

    • Reply
      Hortense Maskens
      May 1, 2020 at 7:39 am

      Hi Sylvia,
      You only need to block items once!
      When you wash it, just lay it flat to dry so it doesn’t stretch under it’s own weight.
      Have a lovely day,
      Hortense

  • Reply
    Marianne
    July 30, 2020 at 6:12 pm

    Hi, Hortense,
    Thank you all your patterns! Like them very much.
    A question – I should like crochet a pullover for my 8 y.o. grandson with tunisian pattern. This kind of crochet’s end always bend in. What is the best method for avoid this symptom?
    Best wishes
    Marianne

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