Monday 7 April 2014

The Magical Miracle of Blocking

When I first learned to crochet (last year!) I had never heard of blocking. I read a post on the facebook page of my local crochet group The Barkham Hookers (fab name or what) run by the lovely Gaynor White over at Confessions of a Barkham Hooker. The post said something like "My piece is finished except for blocking.". Eh ? What ? Pardon ? I mean, when your piece is finished it's, well, finished , no ? NO! You can see above a cushion cover I made that's "finished". Its lovely (well, I think so) but a bit curly and wrinkly I'll admit. And that is where blocking comes in.
Here's a picture of this cushion cover After Blocking.....
.... can you see the difference ? See how much flatter, smoother, less curly and generally more gorgeous it looks ? Aaaahhh lovely :)  Blocking really is a mini magical miracle, and never fails to amaze me :)

So here's a little tutorial on blocking. It mainly describes how to steam block, but mentions wet blocking as well. Have a read to see what I mean.

Steam Blocking
What you'll need:
- your crocheted piece (obviously)
- a steam iron (or water sprayer for wet blocking)
- an ironing board or foam blocks (something like these)
- pins (may need to be rust-proof - read below)

Here's one of my flowers from my rainbow flower garland ..... very pretty, but quite curly round the edges ...

First of all you need to pin our your piece out on your ironing board or foam blocks .....
... obviously pin it into the shape you want it to stay in. Sticking the pins it an angle as shown helps it stay is position for the next bit.
Now, get your iron, fill it with water, and set it to medium/high, and full steam. When it's hot, you want to (and this is important ) hover it over your piece, about an inch away from it - don't actually touch it with the iron, you just want to blast loads of steam at it. Use the "blast loads of steam" button if your iron has one.

Leave the piece pinned out to dry (or until you get fed up of waiting - me ? impatient ? er ....) .... and when you finally remove the pins ...ta daaaaaaa .....
...look! Wow!! Its stays flat. Perfectly, beautifully, amazingly flat. Who knew a bit of steam could work such magic ?!

I tell you, the first time I did this I was speechless (this is rare). I couldn't believe the incredible difference it made to whatever it was that I had made and which I already thought was pretty good anyway! Yes, its s tiny bit of a chore, but sooooo worth it.
Let's have another look at the difference it can make.... can you see which flowers have been blocked and which not ? .....

 ..... yes, the green and yellow ones have been blocked and are lovely and flat, the orange and yellow are a bit curly, and are calling out for the magic blocking treatment. Now of course there is no crochet law that says you have to block, indeed some of you out there will prefer the curly rugged natural edge (feel like I'm talking about men now lol), but the perfectionist in me likes the polished flat smoothness of the blocked item. Very satisfying :)

A few final words to bear in mind .....

I've seen lots of places say not to have the iron too hot, or not to block acrylic-yarn pieces, but I've never had a problem.
You can also wet block - the idea is similar, except instead of blasting steam at it, you spray the item with a water sprayer and then leave to dry.
I only ever steam block and have had success with acrylic, acrylic-wool blends and cotton.
I never use very delicate fibres like angora or mohair (they're not really my thing) but its probably best to err on the side of caution and wet block rather than risk damaging the fibres with heat.
If you are remotely worried about the effect of heat, or steam or wet blocking your item, crochet up a small swatch or sample piece and do a test.
If you're going to leave the piece pinned out to dry, make sure your pins won't rust! How upsetting would that be, to ruin your thing of beauty with nasty rust marks.

Now off you go, you good hooker you, and get blocking!


  1. I still LOVE the magic of blocking! Especially on really fine laceweight type projects as it goes from a ruffled mess to fabulous and flat! Great tutorial , keep up the good work! X

  2. Cheers :) Keep meaning to do a fine delicate piece of work, just get so sucked in by big bold in your face colours and my favourite circles!

  3. You have to love blocking :) x


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