Learn the best ways to block your knitting & crochet projects! These tips will help your projects look neater and more professional every time.
So, you’ve just sewn in the ends on your latest knit or crochet project. Yippee! But, is it finished?
Well, not quite.
You see, a knit or crochet project is not truly finished until it is blocked.
Most freshly-made knitted or crocheted fabrics change a bit when they are washed. Some fabrics change a lot after they’re washed. So the final step of most any project is to wash it, but not just the way you would wash anything else. Our projects need a little help finding their final shape.
So….. we block them.
Blocking is essentially a method of washing the project and shaping it a bit before allowing it to dry. While the method can be very different depending on the fiber content of your yarn, almost every project needs to be blocked. The blocking process relaxes the fabric and helps it drape and lay correctly so it can look its best. It can also help with the fabric’s tendency to curl.
This is why it is always recommended to block your gauge swatch before checking your gauge. You wouldn’t want to base the accuracy of your gauge on the measurements of an unblocked swatch, because the finished fabric may have a slightly different gauge after blocking. It’s especially critical when working with very open knitted or crocheted lace, as lace fabric often appears very crumpled before blocking. Once it’s blocked, though, it lays and drapes beautifully.
If your yarn is machine washable:
It’s perfectly okay to just throw the project in the washing machine to block it. Be sure to check if the yarn can go in the dryer before drying it by machine, though. Many acrylic yarns are machine washable and dryable, but check your yarn label to make sure. If it’s not machine dryable, you can also dry the item flat, making sure it isn’t stretched out of shape before letting it dry.
For projects made from yarn that includes natural fibers (like wool, alpaca, cotton, etc), I prefer to spray block or wet block. (I think these two are among the most commonly used methods.) You’ll need some foam blocking mats (I like these) and some rust-proof T-pins.
To wet block:
Soak the project in a bowl of cool or room temperature water, making sure it is saturated. For yarns that include non-superwash animal fibers, be careful not to agitate the fabric, or it will felt! If your animal-fiber yarn is labeled as “superwash”, then it has been treated with silicones so it cannot felt. Once it’s saturated with water, blot the item between towels to get the drippiness out of it. You’ll then lay it out on the blocking mats and pin it to the mats. If the pattern gives you finished measurements for your project, you’ll want to pin the project out on the mats to those dimensions. You don’t want to stretch the fabric too much, though. Once the project is pinned, allow it to dry completely.
To spray block:
Pin the item to the blocking mats before you get it wet, while the fabric is still dry. Again, if the pattern gives you finished measurements for your project, you’ll want to pin the project out on the mats to those dimensions. Don’t stretch the fabric too much. Once you’ve pinned your project, take a spray bottle full of cool or room temperature water, and spray the knitted or crocheted fabric until it is saturated with water. Then, allow to dry completely.
Tip: For either of these methods, I like to lean the blocking mats up against a wall and put a small fan in front of my project. This helps the item to dry quite a bit faster.
100% Acrylic yarns are a bit different. Since they are completely synthetic, they often turn out better when blocked differently than natural fiber yarns. While you can block some pure acrylic yarns in the washing machine as I mentioned above, I like to steam block my acrylic projects.
To steam block:
You’ll need an ironing board or pressing board (I like this one) and a garment steamer or an iron with a steam function. Lay the project out on the ironing board or pressing board. Hover the steaming iron or steamer about 2″-3″ over the surface of the knitted or crocheted fabric. Don’t let the hot iron touch the acrylic fabric, or it may melt! You just want to make sure that the steam is penetrating your project. The steam relaxes the acrylic fibers, and increases the drape and pliability of the fabric. Allow the fabric to cool. You may need to steam block your project in sections if it is too large to fit the whole project on your pressing board or ironing board at once.
If you are making many small items like afghan squares or hexagons, you may want to pin them to your surface before steaming to make sure they are all exactly the same size.
Watch the video below for a full demonstration on how I block my work.
Blocking your project may just seem like extra work, especially when you just want to be done with your project, but trust me, it’s definitely worthwhile! It can often greatly improve the look and feel of the fabric, and give it a more professional appearance. Once you see how much better your projects can look when they’re blocked, you may never want to skip the blocking on a project again!