When I was a young girl first learning to crochet and sew, blocking your item was right up there with do I really need to stay-stitch my neck edge within my sewing project – duh, I learned the hard way, you DO need to do these steps to get the desired results and have an item that will last and continue to look good. Think about it, you have gone to all this work to crochet a wonderful piece, now you need to block it so it will have the necessary shape, curves, points, etc. to look awesome.
There are basically 2 ways of blocking – called wet blocking and/or steam blocking. STEAM blocking is exactly as its name implies. I do this for small projects and I NEVER do it for anything that has been made with acrylic yarn. I layout my project on my ironing board, spray it with a little water from my handy-dandy spray bottle that I always have hanging from my ironing board and sort of shape it with just my fingers. I like to cover it with a pressing cloth, then I hold my iron just above the item but don’t touch it with the iron and steam away. I usually give it a couple good bursts of steam. Lift the pressing cloth, check it out and if all looks good just let it stay in place to cool and dry. If you aren’t totally satisfied, maybe an edge isn’t just to your liking, give it another spray of water, cover with your pressing cloth and give it another burst of steam.
The steaming method works really well for cotton yarns. I would be cautious with WOOL items too as heat will do funky things to wool yarn. As one time my hubby was trying to be so helpful and threw a lovely sweater in the dryer and it shrunk to fit a Barbie doll.
WET blocking is probably the best way to block your yarn projects. Basically, soak your crochet in a nice sink full of cold water, add a very little drop of a gentle soap, give it a nice swish around, and rinse really well to make sure soap is all gone. Gently squeeze out some of the water, you can let it drain a little in the sink, layout a big towel and place your project on the towel. You really don’t want to wring or twist – I like to fold up my towel in half and then fold in the sides and press easy on it to help remove extra moisture.
Then off to my blocking mats with my rust proof pins and tape measure. Layout your project and gently stretch it out, finger open those fine details that you have made and pin away. Use your tape measure to make sure you are getting the size and shape you want. Again, have that handy-dandy spray bottle at hand if you need to dampen your project during the blocking process. For a shawl with fine picot points, be sure to place a pin in each one. Believe you me, it is worth it!!
Round shaped items, like booties or hats, I like to shape using wet paper towels. Put wet paper towels inside your booties to shape them the way you want and let them stay that way until the paper towels are dry. I use fabric covered styrofoam balls for shaping hats but if they need to be a little fuller, again wet paper towels to fill in those spaces – works great. Just do final shaping with your hands and let air dry completely.
Take a moment and check out Shibaguyz Designz blog. Some really interesting ideas for blocking here using wire, #10 cotton thread and/or unwaxed kitchen string. Recommends the string for nice shaping of curved areas. Another recommendation – block your swatch piece to really ensure you are getting the correct gauge. Excellent reading 🙂
Here are some pictures of the blocked shawls and scarves that I just did – talked about the patterns on my last blog That’s a Wrap!! Good examples of how blocking really gives your item that WOW factor. You’ve spent lots of hours crocheting or knitting that beautiful piece – now spend just one more hour to truly give your item that professional, finished appearance.