Do you block your finished items? Lately, I’ve had readers ask how to fix small sizing errors in their projects or why something is misshapen. Each time, I find myself suggesting that they block the piece. I’ve given short descriptions on how to do that, but I want to go into more detail today. Blocking crochet and knitting is so helpful and it takes care of a lot of the little inconsistencies that come from making something by hand. If you’re new to blocking crochet and want that extra special, professional touch, today’s post is all about why you should block your finished items and different ways to do it. So, let’s get started!
All About Blocking Crochet (& Knits)
What is Blocking?
Basically, blocking crochet or knitting means to slightly reshape it. You wet the fibers and pin them down into the shape you want them to be in. When the fibers dry, they set in that position so that your finished piece is smoother and more defined. It can also help to make something that’s just a tiny bit too small meet the right measurement. It won’t reshape your garment from a small to a medium, but if you need just another 1/4 inch in the body, blocking will help. Blocking crochet or knitting also smoothes out the stitches, especially if you worked in a lacy design or if your design is puckered from being held.
How to Block
There are 3 different kinds of blocking: spray blocking, wet blocking, and steam blocking. I’m only going to talk about the first two, though. Steam blocking is trickier and if it’s done incorrectly, it’ll ruin your piece. The other two ways are so much easy and more reliable, so I never use steam and I haven’t come across anything that needs so harsh a blocking.
Before I jump into how to do spray or wet block, let’s talk about the tools you’ll need. There’s nothing fancy, but here are some materials that make it all a bit easier.
- Blocking boards – the newer version of mine + pins!*
- Rustproof pins/ blocking T-pins – I LOVE these*
- Spray bottle – you can pick these up anywhere
- Tape measure*
You don’t have to get the blocking boards, but they help a TON. I love these, especially since they’re waterproof and have those grid lines. They also fit together like a puzzle so I can arrange them to fit my item.
Spray blocking crochet or knitting is best for pieces that need just a little bit of coaxing into the right shape. For example, here is my little mesh sample. You can see the design, but the DCs are slanted and a bit crumpled. What we want is to make this a more even square and set the stitches so the mesh really stands out.
1. First, pin the piece to the blocking board in the shape you want. This is where these boards come in handy; the lines make it super easy to keep it all even. If you don’t have a blocking board, you can lay a towel on the carpet and pin directly into the carpet. That’s what I did for years and it works fine.
Use as many pins as you need. You want to stretch the fabric out a little bit but don’t pull so much that it creates “peaks” where the fabric is straining against the pin.
2. Now, fill a spray bottle with clean water. If you like you can add a little bit of a blocking solution like Soak Wash to the bottle, too. They’re like rinse-free lightly scented detergents, but they’re totally optional. Spray down the piece you’ve pinned and spray until it’s damp. You want it to be saturated but not sopping wet, so just spray all over and use your hand to smoothe the crochet piece out as you go. If you need exact measurements, use your tape measure to get the sizing right.
3. Let it dry. Leave the item alone until it’s completely dry. Don’t mess with it; just let it do its thing and dry completely. You don’t want to unpin it before then because it will just go back to how it was.
Remove the pins once it’s dry and that’s it!
The item should be completely set in the shape you let it dry in. See how the stitches are more defined and the edges are straighter now? For a small piece like this, a light spray blocking was enough to make it look more finished.
For heavier pieces, like blankets, sweaters, or other pieces that are a bit harder to block, you can use a wet blocking technique. This is really similar to spray blocking, but it allows the fibers to soak in more water and needs a little longer for the block to set. I’m using a sample of Tunisian crochet as an example and you can see how it’s all curled up. Wet blocking will flatten it out. Here’s you do it:
1. Fill a basin or plastic tub (or even just stop your sink and fill it up) with lukewarm water. You can also add some blocking solution if you like. I sometimes add a bit of hair conditioner if I want to soften acrylic pieces a little bit. There’s a tutorial on that here. Completely submerge the piece in the water and let it get saturated. Move it around gently and make sure every part is exposed to the water. Then, just let it soak for about 20 minutes.
2. When the piece is done soaking, gently press the water out of it. Don’t wring it or twist it! The fibers are weak when they’re wet and that could damage them. Just press the water out until it’s not sopping and heavy.
3. Then, lay a towel down and lay your piece on it. Roll it up and lightly squeeze the water out even more. You can even press with your foot to get the excess water out. When you’re done, it should be damp.
4. Unroll the piece from the towel and lay it onto the blocking boards. Start to pin the piece into the shape you want it to be in, smoothing it out with your hands and making sure to keep it all even. Again, use a tape measure to check your sizing.
5. Let it dry completely and you’re done.
Before and After Blocking Crochet
In my example, I used a sample of Tunisian crochet with can get really curly. After blocking though, it’s flatter and doesn’t curl up as much.
My spray blocking sample was a simple mesh and now you can see how it’s opened up more and it’s a more even square.
I’ve also used this spray blocking method when I was blocking crochet hexagons for my Hexagon Baby Blanket. Then, I needed all of my hexagons to be flat and the same size.
Lastly, here’s my most recent project. This is a Hyssop shawl that I tested for Cassandra over at Hazel and Elm. It’s such a beautiful shawl, but it needs blocking to really get those pretty clusters to open up. Blocking also helps to finalize the shape of it so it doesn’t look crumpled from sitting it my lap. This was my first shawl and I love it. I’ll let you know when the pattern’s released!
Blocking crochet makes such a difference to your project and gives it a nice, clean finish so there’s no reason not to try it out. Use one of these methods on your next piece and share your before & after pictures here or in the Facebook group!
I’ll see you soon 🙂