How To Block Crochet – A Step By Step Tutorial On Wet & Steam Blocking
I recently updated my crochet hexagon pattern with brand new photos and a video tutorial and I’ve been crocheting a bunch of them for a new honeycomb baby blanket. But before I start joining them, I knew I have to block them so the stitches (and corners) will align perfectly.
In this tutorial, I will show you how to block crochet using two methods: wet and steam blocking. You will find the two methods explained in detail below, with step by step instructions. These are the methods I use to block my own designs.
I specialize in designing baby blankets and afghans and I often get asked questions about blocking, specifically about blocking baby blankets and crochet motifs, so I decided to answer a few of them here, in this tutorial.
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What does blocked mean in crochet?
Blocking is the process of introducing moisture into fibers in order to manipulate the shape and size of your crochet work. You can do that by either water (wet blocking) or steam (steam blocking).
Why do you block crochet projects?
- Blocking helps adjust the size and shape of the crochet item.
- Blocking helps you get flat corners and straight edges and helps fixing unwanting curling.
- Blocking relaxes and enhances the stitches in your crochet project, especially in ones using lacy patterns.
- Blocked crochet items look more professional and the method improves the look and fit of your item.
- Blocking can also be used to give a beautiful drape to your crochet project.
Is blocking necessary in crochet?
Blocking is not necessary but recommended for a few reasons listed below.
- If you are a crocheter who sells their work at fairs or on Etsy, blocking is a must. Your finish project will look professional and put together.
- The same reason applies if you are planning to gift the item as a present.
- If you are working with a lot of granny squares and other motifs that need to be joined, blocking will make your job a lot easier.
- If your project is crocheted with acrylic yarn and you want it to have a beautiful drape (a shawl for example), steam blocking is necessary.
- If you made minor mistakes in your design and shape, blocking will help fix it ( curled corners and edges caused by tight tension, or uneven edges caused by missing out a stitch)
- When working with lacy crochet patterns you will need to block the project to relax the stitches and reveal the pattern.
There are times when even I don’t block my designs.
For example, I never block my hooded blankets because they are made with superbulky yarn which is thick and heavy enough to retain its own shape and it doesn’t need reshaping or stretching.
You can partially block a large project such an afghan, you don’t need to get the entire project wet. If your corners are rolling up but the edges are ok, just block that particular part of the project.
Is crochet blocking permanent?
Wet & steam blocking are not permanent. While some natural fibers, such as wool, might have a good “memory” and keep their shape after re-washing, other fibers, such as acrylic, might need reshaping after wash.
There is one exception when blocking acrylic yarn is permanent and that is when you overdo the steam block. Overheating the acrylic fibers will partially melt them and will give your work a nice drape which will be permanent. USE THIS TECHNIQUE WITH CAUTION! It can not be undone.
Can acrylic yarn be blocked?
I work with a lot of acrylic yarn in my design and I can definitely tell you YES, you can block acrylic yarn, BUT it will not completely retain its shape after washing. Lay it flat and air dry it again into shape once wet (blankets and afghans should not be hung to dry anyways).
Now that I’ve answered some of your questions about blocking, lets get down to the actual blocking tutorial.
You can block your crochet items two ways: by steam or by water. I’ll show you how I do it step by step.
HOW TO BLOCK CROCHET – WET BLOCKING
Wet blocking is the most popular technique when it comes to blocking baby blankets, afghans, granny squares and other motifs.
There are two ways you can block your items:
1. using a spray bottle to saturate your project with lukewarm water
2. completely submerging the crochet work in lukewarm water (sometimes in water with a few drops of handwash)
No matter which way you use, the technique is the same. Below I will demonstrate the wet blocking technique with a spray bottle.
Supplies I Used
You will need the following supplies
Get Your Supplies
Why you need a good blocking board
If you are serious about crocheting, you will need a good quality blocking board.
There are other options around and different ways to improvise a blocking board, but nothing beats an interlocking blocking board with grid lines. Why? Because you want to make sure your blankets have perfectly straight edges and your motifs are all the same size (just like mine in this pic below).
I am using this one and I love it! It comes in a set of 4 interlocking 12in by 12in boards and it’s perfect for small or larger projects. Not to mention, so easy to store away.
I have 3 sets so I can easily block my baby blankets and I am so happy I made this purchase.
Wet Blocking – Video Tutorial
For those who learn better by watching videos, I have created a video tutorial on how to wet block crochet, you can find it on Crafting Happiness YouTube Channel.
Make sure to SUBSCRIBE so you can easily access the videos later.
Wet Blocking – Step By Step Tutorial
Two ways you can go here:
1. use the spray bottle
2. completely submerge your project in water
Step 1: Saturate your crochet work with water
Spraying your work with water is the easiest and most convenient option, especially if you are dealing with large crochet projects like baby blankets and afghans.
Spray your project with water to make it wet, not dripping wet, but just saturated enough with water so you can manipulate its shape.
Squeeze it a few times to soak in the water.
If you want to submerge your project in water, use a bowl or a container big enough to contain your project. Optional, put a few drops of handwash in the water. Place your crochet work in and let it sit for about 5 minutes to soak up the water and relax the fibers.
Take your project out of the container and gently squeeze out the excess water. Do NOT twist it to speed up the process. Place your work in between two towels and press to remove more water out of your crochet work.
Step 2: manipulate the shape
Place your crochet work on the blocking board and gently manipulate it into the shape you want.
Use the gridlines as a guide to straighten the edges and, if you are working with multiple motifs, to make them the same size. If your blocking board doesn’t have gridlines, use a measuring tape.
Step 3: pin your project to the board
Use the rustproof pins to pin your project in place to the blocking board. In this example, I used pins only for the corners, but for bigger projects and even for granny squares, you can use as many pins as you need to make sure the edges are straight and following the grid lines.
So I advise you to buy a set a rustproof pins that have quite a few pieces in the set so you won’t run out.
Step 4: let it dry
Once set, let your crochet project dry. Depending on the size, you might want to give it some time to dry. I left my hexagons dry overnight in a dry, warm place.
When I block my crochet blankets, I usually put them in the guestroom and let them dry 2 days and sometimes 3 days (when I forget about them!).
Step 5: once dry, remove the pins and enjoy your newly blocked crochet item.
HOW TO BLOCK CROCHET – STEAM BLOCKING
Steam blocking is easier and faster than wet blocking, but not always as effective.
Steam blocking your crochet project will not fix minor crochet errors, but it’s useful when you quickly want to shape granny squares or other motifs or want a garment made out of acrylic yarn to get a nice drape.
Supplies I Use
Why choose a garment steamer over an iron?
Yes, you can use an iron set on steam function to steam block your crochet projects, but I advise against it. Why? For a couple of reasons.
For one, the steam you get from a garment steamer is far superior to an iron. It is also steam that you can focus on a particular area, not just all over the place like you would have when you use an iron. This is particularly useful when you try to overheat your acrylic projects to give them a nice drape.
Second, irons get really really hot and if you are not very careful, you risk touching your crochet work by accident and damage it PERMANENTLY. The iron ruined one of my baby blankets and I learn my lesson.
And third, using a garment steamer is so much easier, especially when you work on a project that is hanging (a shawl hanging on the mannequin for example).
I use a garment steamer just like this one and it made my life so my easier. It’s also super useful when you travel and you want your clothes to be crease-free!
Steam Blocking – Step By Step Tutorial
As a crochet designer I specialize in designing baby blankets and afghans, and so, I don’t get the chance to crochet many garments. But I know that steam blocking garments should be done with the garment hanging on a mannequin. This will help with the drape and shape.
Below I will show you how I steam block my crochet motifs when I quickly want to shape them. I use this technique only when my motifs need light shaping or if the corners need flattening.
I don’t steam block my baby blankets or my afghans because it doesn’t help to shape them as much as the wet blocking technique does.
Step 1: pin your crochet work to the blocking board
Use rustproof pins to pin your crochet project to the blocking board. Use as many pins as you need to get the shape you need.
Step 2: steam your crochet work
Hoover the garment steamer over your work until it is damp. Make sure you are moving the steamer back and forth so you won’t over-steam your project (especially if it is acrylic).
If you are using an iron, set it on steam function and hoover it over your crochet work making sure it is close to the work, but not too close to damage your item (maybe 2-3cm above it). Continuously move the iron back and forth and don’t overheat your crochet project.
Step 3: let it cool down
Once your project is damp enough, let it cool and dry. Steam blocking is faster than the wet blocking and you will not have to leave your crochet project on the blocking board for days.
Step 4: once set, remove the pins and enjoy your newly blocked crochet item.
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