Last Friday I wrote a post on why and how to block knitting and crochet. However, my list of tips and tricks for blocking grew so long, I need to be turned it into a separate post. So here are my ten top tips and tricks on blocking knitting and crochet. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve any blocking tips and tricks to add.
Tip one: If you’ve never blocked anything, don’t be afraid
Blocking is often built up to be a scary beast, when it really isn’t. Let’s face it, if you don’t deliberately block a piece of knitting or crochet, your first wash and dry will effectively block it anyway. So if you’ve ever washed anything you knitted or crocheted, you have some experience of blocking. Doesn’t that feel better now you’re not a beginner?
Tip two: You might not need to block your knitting/crochet
Some synthetic fibres and cotton knits won’t permanently benefit from going through the blocking process. Blocking may make seaming easier, but if you’re not bothered about that, washing and drying in a manner appropriate to the fibre, will give the more finished look blocking achieves. Check out my previous post to read more about cotton and synthetic fibres.
Tip three: You don’t have to spend a fortune on blocking mats
Blocking mats can be expensive. Cheaper alternatives include:
- Children’s interconnecting play mats – as long as they can take the heat of the steam of steam blocking.
- A towel can make an adequate mat, although it needs to remain flat. If you use a towel, lay an opened out polythene bag or bin liner flat on top of the towel, beneath your work. The bag stops the towel absorbing water from your garment and slowing the drying.
- I’ve also used a large piece of bubble wrap in the past.
Tip four: Blocking pins and wires are jolly useful
Proper blocking pins and wires are a great addition to you blocking equipment.
- Place pins close together to avoid creating scalloped edges – unless you want scalloped edges.
- Using blocking wires seriously reduces the number of pins needed.
- Blocking wires also reduce your chances of unwanted scalloped edges. Although if you want scalloped edges they can help you achieve them!
Tip five: Treat wool and other fragile fibres kindly when blocking:
I’ve mentioned this tip/trick in my previous post How to block knitting and crochet, but it’s very important, so worth repeating…
Wool and some other fibres become more fragile when wet, so if you’re wet blocking (or simply washing them):
- Don’t run water directly onto wool – this can cause it to felt.
- Never wring or twist fragile fibres as this will damage them. For further information on which fibres become more fragile when wet click here
- Once you have gently squeezed the water out of your work, roll it in a towel to remove any excess. I usually to stand on mine too, to take out as much as possible.
- If you plan to stand on your towel, borrow
your partner’s clean gym towela clean one from you dog to save you needing to wash a towel that’s only dirty because you’ve stood on it.
Tip six: Block pieces of a garment separately and shape before sewing together, because:
- It’s easier to work with smaller, flat pieces.
- You don’t have to block them all at once if you have little room or few blocking mats.
- It’s easier to measure and check dimensions.
- Seeming is easier once a piece has been blocked.
Tip seven: Take care when blocking dense fabrics
Stretching out cables, ribs and other dense fabrics will ruin their appearance. Instead of stretching, squish them into the shape you want them to be in your final garment.
Tip eight: Speeding up drying
Most of us don’t have the room to leave wet soggy fabric lying around for ages while it dries. Drying can be speeded up by placing a fan so the draft wafts over the work you’re blocking.
Tip nine: Pre-plan with cotton fibres
Because cotton is very week when wet and has no memory, blocking won’t do anything to help stop it stretching. I’m not keen on working with cotton for this reason. However, if you knit or crochet highly structured cotton pieces and reduce the size of your hook/needle from that recommended, you’re more likely to avoid stretching problems. Swatching can also be instrumental in achieving much better results with cotton yarn. But that’s a whole other post!
Tip ten: If you borrowed your dog’s towel, as advised in tip five, he may be rather grumpy…
…but you can win him over with a biscuit. However, you partner may need more than a biscuit to appease them if they catch you using their gym towel.
Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear if you have any further tips and tricks to share.