I have been crocheting for a very long time. At the time of writing this it’s been about 45 years. I’ve learnt a lot in that time
Here is my take on Blocking crochet
What Is Blocking?
Blocking is a term used to describe the process of pinning the crochet out to the proper shape and size. There are several methods used
See How to Block for step by step instructions
Is Blocking Really Necessary?
People often ask if blocking is necessary
The bottom line is that there are no hard and fast rules. You can do what you want, it's your crochet
BUT if you want your work to look professional and clean, blocking will help
Blocking helps the stitches stand out, gives them each their own clear space. It also sets the work to a particular shape and size. It can also stretch the item slightly, if needed
But do you need to do it to everything you crochet?
Not really. If you're making a doily or snowflakes, it's definitely worth it. But if you are crocheting blocks for a blanket, and they're all going to be joined up, it's probably not worth it, unless the sizes are too different
Is Blocking Permanent?
If you block acrylic with heat, it will be permanent
Cotton and wool will need a little bit of blocking after each wash
Can You Press Rather Than Block?
Again, it's up to you
- it will flatten the stitches
- you will not be able to set the work to a particular shape
- if it's acrylic, it may melt your work, and stick to the iron
What Tools are Required For Blocking?
- something firm that pins can be pinned into
- rust-proof pins
- spray bottle
- towels or plastic
- measuring tape
- optional, steam iron or steamer
- optional, blocking templates
What can you use as a blocking board
Any firm flat surface that you can put pins in will do
Any type of foam mats, including kids play puzzle mats, floor tiles, or yoga mats
Just a few layers of cardboard wrapped in cling wrap (I like this when I use a template underneath)
A carpeted piece of floor, covered with towels
Even a mattress covered with lots of towels or plastic
Or you can buy proper blocking boards that have grids on them
If you need to block a lot of squares for a blanket, you can put nails onto a wooden square board. Or drill holes that can have small dowels put in
Do you block squares before joining or after?
If the crochet you are doing has many pieces, such as granny square blocks being joined together, or clothing, you will need to block the pieces individually first, before joining
What if it's a big piece?
You can put down lots of towels on the floor, or bed, and pin to that
Is it difficult to do?
No, it’s very easy
How do you know where to block so the piece isn't over stretched?
You push it slightly outwards with your hands. This means it’s only slightly pushed out, and not really stretched
How do you do it without damaging the stitches?
Don’t overstretch the item. Use lots of pins
Temp of water, how long in water or is it sprayed?
For the temperature, it’s a good idea to check the label on the yarn. But if you don’t have it, or are unsure, lukewarm water, or even cold is fine.
Just up to 5 or 10 minutes is long enough to soak
Just a spray is also fine, but my preference is to saturate it all thoroughly
How long to dry?
This can vary on temperature of the room, humidity, and dampness of the piece
A hairdryer (on cool setting) can help, or a fan
Tips for Wool vs acrylic vs cotton etc.
Be careful to not overwork wool, or it may felt.
Some people believe acrylic can’t be blocked, but I completely disagree with that. Blocking works perfectly on acrylic, and is generally permanent. If you overheat it, you might “kill” it, ie, it will go limp. But even when killed, it is still useful, and very soft
Cotton, works well with steam blocking, but any other method is also fine
What pins to use
- You can use any pins that don’t rust
- brass or stainless steel are good options
- nickel plated pins may rust
- wedding dress pins or t pins are generally rust-proof
- you can also buy specific blocking pins and wires
- Another option is to use toothpicks
How to pin?
Pin the center. Then press the item outwards from the centre, using your fingers. Pin again. Press outwards again, pin again. Continue like this until you reach the outer edges
I like to use a template under plastic matching the circles to points on the crochet, so I can keep it even
Do you flip it to dry other side?
No, you pin right side up only
Is there any chance that colours will run during the blocking process? What can I do if I’m concerned about this?
This will depend on your yarn. It would be best to test before starting the crochet.
But if you don’t know, try soaking in a vinegar solution for half an hour, and rinse thoroughly. Salt can also help
How wet does it have to be?
The item doesn’t even have to be wet, you can block when it’s dry. But I don’t find this very effective.
I think damp, but not dripping, then steamed, is most effective
You can press it in a towel to get some extra moisture out
But any stage of dampness will do
Wash?? & with what? Or... just dampen?
It’s a good idea to take this opportunity to wash the item. But this is very much personal choice. Launder with your usual detergent that is suitable for the fibre
It can be dampened, by saturating in water, and squeezing out excess water, and/or squeezing in a towel
Or it can be blocked dry, then steamed (I find this not as effective)
Do you have to do it after each wash
Generally, yes. But if acrylic has been done with heat, it will be permanent, and won’t need to be done after each wash
Other fibres will need a bit of blocking after each wash. But this will mostly just be a case of drying flat and shaping
How do I block items that are not square or round, for example a snowflake made for a Christmas decoration
The same way, but it’s a good idea to use a template to make sure the snowflake is even
What can go wrong?
The only thing I can think of is pulling too hard, and not using enough pinsat the very edges of the work, creating scalloped edges and points
You can prevent this by pushing the work to the edges, and using lots of pins before, and/or at the edges
Blocking wires can also help with this
What is a blocking template?
This is basically a piece of paper with the shape of the item on it. It has sequential circles/squares an equal distance apart and a lot of markings to help measure your piece to a set shape and size.
For square or rectangle items you only need a grid, and many forms of foam blocks will already have that
When it comes to circles, doilies or snowflakes. You will need a circle guide with the same number of spokes as the points on your snowflake, doily or circle. If your item doesn’t have points, match the number of starting stitches with number of spokes instead
There are some great templates here by Kate Crochets
How do you use a blocking template?
If you already have a blocking board with grids or markings, you won’t need one
But if you don’t, my preferred way is to print out the template on the usual A4 paper. Then put it into a plastic sleeve protector, and place it onto the board.
If the item is a bit larger, you can print the template with the poster option on the computer, printing it out on 4 or more pages. The pages then get joined together on the blocking board
If the item is very large, it’s not even necessary to have a template. But a measuring tape would be useful to keep the measurements on all sides even
Do you need to use a blocking template?
No, but it will keep your work even and professional looking