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Thursday, November 24, 2011


Finally, that gorgeous, challenging sweater you have crocheted so patiently is complete! All that is left to be done before the compliments start rolling in is to block your wonderful creation. Blocking is a process that shapes and sets a crocheted item, and it smooths the stitches to give your work a finished, professional appearance. There are several different blocking methods, so choose the one that’s appropriate for the yarn used in your project. Perhaps you are a beginner and learning to crochet so it is best to choose a simple easy crochet pattern.

Before blocking, check your yarn label for any special instructions. If specific blocking directions aren’t given, look at the care instructions listed for the yarn. Some natural fiber yarns such as wool, linen, or cotton respond well to steam blocking, but yarns such as mohair and angora should never come in contact with heat or steam. Many acrylics and some blends shouldn’t be blocked at all, especially with hot steam – they might melt! Oh my, we’d never want that to happen! If you have any doubt about how a particular yarn will respond to blocking, try blocking your gauge swatch first.

In addition to rust-proof pins and plenty of fluffy towels, you will need a flat surface for blocking that is large enough to accommodate your garment when it is all spread out. You can place a folded blanket on a table and cover it with a sheet, or you can simply use a bed or carpeted floor covered with towels. Just be sure to first put down a layer of plastic trash bags to protect the surface from moisture. If you prefer, you can purchase a blocking board, a padded board made especially for this purpose, or you can make one of your own.

To make a blocking board, you will need a piece of plywood, polyester quilt batting, terry cloth, gingham fabric with 1-inch checks (this makes measuring a breeze), and a staple gun. Cover the plywood with layers of batting until the batting is 1 to 1½-inch thick. Top the batting with a piece of terry cloth and then a piece of gingham fabric, wrapping both over the edges and stapling in place on the back of the board. Even afghans, especially ones with elaborate edges, will lay smoother and flatter if you block them first.

There are four ways to do blocking; with the first one being “cold blocking.” Fragile acrylics that are suitable for blocking can be taken care of in a snap. Simply use rust-proof straight pins to shape your item to the correct size on a flat surface, and cover the item with dampened bath towels. When the towels are dry, the item is blocked.

Another way to do blocking is “wet blocking.” Wet blocking is ideal for thread articles such as doilies, coasters, place mats, etc. Not only does this give your project a smooth, finished appearance, but the laundering removes any traces of oil or dirt left by your hands on the item. If your project is hand washable, carefully launder it using a mild laundry soap or detergent. Rinse the item without wringing or twisting, several times in cool water, then remove any excess moisture by rolling it in a succession of dry terry towels. If you prefer, put your project in the final spin cycle of the washer, but don’t use water or heat. Lay the item on a flat surface, then gently smooth and pat it to the desired size and shape, comparing the measurements to your simple easy crochet pattern instructions as necessary. Always use rust-proof straight pins to hold your project in place. When the item is completely dry, it is blocked.

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Steaming is a great method of blocking many crocheted items, especially those made with wool or wool blends. Just be extra cautious not to use steam on any yarn that might be damaged by heat. Turn your project wrong side out and use rust-proof straight pins to shape it to the correct size on a flat surface. Hold a steam iron or steamer just above the item and steam it thoroughly. Never let the iron or steamer actually touch your crocheted article – this will flatten the stitches and possibly scorch the yarn. Leave the garment pinned in place until it is completely dry.

If you are making a garment to wear and if it is made in pieces, you may wish to block the individual pieces of the garment before putting them together. Adjusting pieces to the right size and shape is much simpler than trying to adjust a completed garment, and blocking the pieces can actually make assembly easier.

Love your beautifully blocked garment...

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