Does Crochet Shrink? [And How To Un-Shrink It]

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Crochet has been around for ages and is the perfect form for a blanket, garment, or household accessory. However, you may have questions about whether crochet can shrink and how to prevent this from happening. Not to worry, we researched what makes crochet shrink and how to revive your projects. Read on to learn more fine points about crochet, yarns, and preserving your beloved crafted items.

It is possible for crocheted clothing, afghans, and decorative items to shrink. Depending on the type of yarn fiber, type of stitches used, and laundering methods, crochet can be reduced in size. When caring for a crocheted item, it is essential to block it before wearing it and avoid using hot water to keep it clean. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to reduce the chance of your crochet from shrinking and restore projects that have gone awry.

Whether you accidentally shrunk a crocheted sweater or need to make a loose hat have a tighter fit, you will want to read this article. Learn here what causes crochet to shrink, about yarn fibers, and how to best care for your needle-crafted collection.

Casual fashion lookbook concept with stylish crochet bag, Does Crochet Shrink? [And How To Un-Shrink It]

Troubleshooting Shrinking Crochet

A rail of colourful crocheted clothes hanging

There are a few reasons why shrinking crochet isn't a problem, like when you have a baggy hat or top that needs to have a snug fit. However, if you accidentally pulled out a top or blanket that looks more suitable for a doll than an adult, there are solutions. Yes, you can unshrink your crochet and wear it again!

First things first, let's explore some reasons why your crochet has shrunken in size:

  • Was your crochet exposed to high heat via a hot setting in a washing machine or dryer?
  • Does your crocheted item contain fibers that are prone to shrinkage or felting?
  • Was your crocheted project properly blocked before using it?
  • Are the edges of the crochet neatly finished, or do they contain frays or curl up at the ends?

Remember, you can reduce additional shrinkage of your crocheted sweater, blanket, or hat by giving your yarn a pre-wash before you work with it. And, if you discover that you have accidentally shrunk an item, there is hope.

Revive Shrunken Crochet

Take the following steps to unshrink your clothing and help it return to its original, wearable size. First off, check to see if your clothing is made from a fiber prone to felting, as it may be beyond saving. If your garment still has some stretch to it, carry on with the following steps to revive your apparel.

  1. Soften up the fibers of your miniaturized clothing. Fill up a bucket with tepid water and add a few capfuls of baby shampoo or a fabric softener.
  2. Soak your clothing in the solution in the bucket for up to two hours and don't agitate it.
  3. Remove the drenched clothing from the bucket, and allow the liquid to drain without wringing out the garment.
  4. Block your shrunken item by sliding it over an ironing board, plastic board, or drying rack and stretching it out. Keep the stretched out clothing in place with clothespins.
  5. Check out your item and stretch it slightly more, adjusting the garment position until you've reached a limit.

Please note, this technique works well on crocheted items made from natural fibers. Most synthetic items may not respond to this method. Also, if your crochet has felted, it won't stretch back out to its original size.

Check out this fabric softener on Amazon.

Yarn Fiber Test

If you purchased a crochet item from a yard sale, a swap, or are unsure of the yarn fibers used, you can conduct a burn test. Take a small clipping of the garment or blanket and set it on fire with a lighter or match. Synthetic fibers melt easily and smell like chemicals. If the fiber smells like burned hair and crumbles it is most likely wool. Cotton smells similar to burning leaves and turns to ash.

Can You Put A Crochet Blanket In The Washer?

Before you throw a crocheted blanket into the washing machine, first check the care label on the item. If you are washing a handmade crochet item you should consult the care label on the skein. Typically, it is safe to throw a blanket in the wash on the gentle cycle if it is made from cotton, ramie, linen, or acrylic. Most synthetic yarn fibers like acrylic won't shrink in the wash, but cotton may shrink at a maximum of 10%.

Use cold water for best results, and avoid placing a crochet blanket in the dryer on high heat by line drying. Avoid placing mohair, wool, cashmere, or unknown fiber blankets in the wash and launder by hand instead. Periodically check the edges of your blanket for loose strands, holes, or areas that could unravel or damage your blanket before throwing it in the wash.

What Materials Shrink In The Dryer?

Be mindful about the settings on your dryer before placing your crochet blanket or garment inside after a wash. Yarn fibers made from wool can shrink and become felted inside a hot dryer. Also, take care when drying a silk, linen, or cotton fiber item in the dryer that has not been pre-shrunk. Natural fibers like linen, cotton, and silk shrink under high heat, so tumble it dry on a cool setting or hang it to dry.

Can You Fix An Uneven Crochet Blanket?

If you recently washed a crochet blanket and it is uneven, you can try re-blocking the project after giving it a good soak. Sometimes a blanket may be uneven because of improper tension, missing stitches, or felting. Wool, cashmere, and even mohair tend to felt. So, if you have a blanket made from these natural animal fibers, avoid placing it in the dryer, hand wash it, and allow it to air dry instead. Also, some blankets may look uneven if they lack an established border or decorative edge.

If a crochet blanket made from synthetic or cotton fibers looks uneven, give it a closer look. Non-storebought projects may need a few stitches to get your blanket even. Find yarn that matches the blanket's color and weight and pull out an appropriately sized crochet hook. Add any necessary stitches along the edges in the same pattern, so it is smooth and even. If you wish, you can take a heavy thread and make a blanket stitch all around the blanket, locking the stitches in and creating a finished, wrapped appearance.

Check out this colorful pack of assorted yarn on Amazon.

Check out this steel yarn needle set on Amazon.

How Do You Stop Your Crochet From Curling?

There are a few reasons why your crochet may be developing a curl at the corner or edges. It is essential to block your crochet and pre-wash fibers to reduce tension, curling, and achieve the finished size. Certain stitches and crochet styles are more prone to curling, and edges should have a finished technique with yarn or thread. Typically, crocheted work may curl after interacting with hot water from the washing machine, a hot dryer, or if it has been made from natural fibers.

Put a stop to curling crochet. Hand-wash your crochet items, block them, and allow them to air dry on a rack or stretched out on a board. Make sure edges are finished, proper tension is achieved, and avoid fibers that like to shrink or felt when possible. Watch your tension with craft projects and make a gauge swatch before beginning a blanket, hat, or sweater.

Check out this handy needlecraft set on Amazon.

Check out this handy gauge and ruler on Amazon.

Is It Better To Crochet Tight Or Loose?

Crochet is a relaxing activity, but you may create more tension than needed for your project if you have something on your mind. Follow the level of tension needed when crocheting so that your finished project looks polished and has uniform stitches. Be careful when making lacey style items, as too much slack can lead to unraveling, snags, and a sloppy appearance after a wash. Crochet too tight, and you may have problems trying to rework a project or removing extra stitches if needed.

Appearance-wise, it is best to crochet with a modest amount of tension, so it is comfortable working each row and changing yarns as needed. Err on the side of working your crochet more tightly than loose for clean, professional-looking results.

Conclusion

Crochet is a versatile way to create fantastic clothing, accessories, and blankets with yarn and a hook. However, if you are not careful, you could accidentally shrink your crocheted item. The best way to avoid shrinkage and felting of crochet articles is to hand-wash them and avoid the washing machine and dryer. Especially when caring for natural fiber crochet made from silk, wool, mohair, and cashmere, avoid heat at all costs. Even cotton can shrink a bit, but when possible pre-wash yarn before beginning a project.

Thankfully, if you have a crochet hat, bag, or top that has shrunk, you can revive it back to its former size with blocking. Sometimes it is difficult to unshrink crochet made from synthetic fibers, but synthetic yarn thankfully isn't prone to shrinkage. Crochet projects need moderate tension levels. And, making a gauge swatch before starting a project can prevent curling and shrinkage. Learn more about your yarn fibers and choose the best one for your project, and have fun creating and caring for your crochet items!

Check out the following titles about crochet for more needlecraft inspiration.

How To Crochet Dishcloths

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