Blocking is an often overlooked art that can add refinement to your crochet or knitting. But it is hard to know how and when to block your projects. So, do you need to block crochet and knit pieces after every wash? We've delved into what blocking does and when it should be used to get the answer for you.
Aside from lace, you do not need to block crochet or knitting after every wash. While you can block after every wash, it is not necessary for most items. However, after the first wash, most crafts should be blocked. This makes sure they take on the right size and shape.
Let's take a closer look at what blocking is and how to do it, and when to do it for crochet, knit, lace, and other crafts.
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What is Blocking for Crochet and Knitting?
Blocking, sometimes called setting, is simply using water and time to shape your project. Blocking is usually done after an individual piece has been fastened off. This makes sure the project does not unravel during blocking.
Blocking is optional but especially useful for gifts or projects made out of multiple pieces. This is because it allows pieces to dry in a set size, giving them uniformity. By setting your projects, you can make them look professionally done without a lot of effort.
At its core, blocking is washing or otherwise wetting a project and pinning it in place until it dries. However, there are many different ways to block crafts using a variety of materials.
What Can I Use to Block my knitting?
There are multiple ways to block your crafts. For the most ">simple method, you only need a blocking mat, pins, and a spray bottle. If you are blocking to size, you will need a measuring tape. This will ensure that all of your pieces are the desired size. You can also get blocking mats with lines to help with accuracy.
Blocking Mat Alternatives
If you are new to crochet or knitting, rather than investing in a blocking mat, you can use a corkboard. Common household items like ironing boards and towels are other thrifty options.
Wash to Block
Wash to block is another popular method that involves washing your project by hand or machine, then blocking it. This method is common since it allows you to wash dirt and chemicals out of the fabric.
When you are first starting out, practice with small and easy items like cotton granny squares. Because there are so many methods for blocking, it is often a trial and error process. It is ok if it takes you a few times to figure out the best option for you.
Blocking Various Fabrics
It is up to you on what kind of projects you decide to block. For example, most amigurumi would be very difficult to block. Each person has their own opinion on it, so it is up to you to make your own decision. However, some materials react differently to blocking.
Can You Block Cotton Knitting?
Cotton items are some of the easiest projects to block. You can block cotton items using any method. Even blocking methods that use heat, like steam blocking, work well for cotton items. You can also iron cotton crafts, but be careful not to flatten out the stitches.
Cotton is particularly easy and takes well to blocking. So, if you have not blocked a crochet project before, start with a cotton item. Likewise, cotton is a good fabric to practice with and figure out your favorite blocking method.
Can You Block Acrylic Knitting?
You can block acrylic items, but they are finicky. When piecing an item together, like a sweater or blanket, it is good to block acrylic items to size. While blocking works for a while, acrylic items quickly become unblocked.
The blocking process for acrylic is just a bit different. To properly block acrylic, you need to steam block it. This is similar to other blocking methods but uses steam in place of water. This works, in part, because acrylic is made from plastic. Check out the YouTube demonstration below for steam blocking:
If you work with a lot of acrylics, make sure to have a proper steamer and heat-resistant pins. While it may be more expensive up front, they will last longer.
Since steam blocking uses heat, be careful not to overheat your acrylic project. Overheating or killing an acrylic project makes it lose its elasticity. When in doubt, take things slowly. Acrylic is a particularly difficult fabric to block since it does not normally retain its shape. So, first practice with cotton or other easy items, then move to acrylic.
Should You Block Lace?
Lace pieces or any items that contain lace are a special case. Unlike most projects, lace items should be blocked after every wash. This helps them maintain their proper shape and flow correctly. You can use many different blocking methods for lace. However, handwash and block and spray are the most popular options since they are gentle.
Many people also say that lace or lace-like projects do not look complete until they have been blocked. This is especially important with clothing items like shawls.
How Do I Stop my Crochet From Curling?
Often, curling is due to a tension problem. To prevent crochet from curling, use consistent tension on the thread. At the same time, make sure you aren't gripping the hook too tight. If your knuckles are white, take a deep breath and relax.
If you are early into your project, check your foundation chain. If the tension on your base is messed up, it is likely your project will curl. If you have this problem often, consider using a foundationless project. Some projects are meant to curl. This is particularly popular in amigurumi and stuffed animals like jellyfish. So before you get frustrated with your curling fabric, double-check your pattern.
If you have already finished the project and want to undo the curling, you can block the project. This will help flatten the project. This is especially helpful for small, stand-alone projects like ornaments.
What Does Block to Size Mean for Crochet?
Block to size generally means to use blocking to make items a universal size. If you are trying to make a blanket or other large item, it is good to block to size. It is especially common for granny squares, as it helps the final product look refined.
If you see block to size in a pattern, it usually means you should take time to block the piece before continuing. To block to size, simply pin the project to your desired measurements and block as usual. Blocking mats or boards with lines preprinted on them are especially handy for this.
Blocking is a good way to gently stretch fabric to the proper size. Unfortunately, you cannot easily use setting to make a project smaller. If you notice a project is too big, it may be easier to unravel and shrink it. Trying to make a project smaller through blocking usually results in wrinkles and an unrefined look.
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