4.30.2014

Blocking it Out

Today's topic: BLOCKING

I'm not talking about blocking those telemarketers repeat phone calls, or building wooden towers with your little ones. I'm talking about the kind done to make your crochet work look fabulous! I mean, seriously professional vs. lumpy and amateurish. Do you ever wonder why your finished piece doesn't look like the one in that picture on the front of the pattern? It might just be because of BLOCKING!


How to Wet-Block your crochet projects for a professional look



Bright as a Button Blanket Squares -- How to Block

Let's start with some squares. Since I'm all about motifs, and buttons, I thought these from my Bright as a Button Blanket might
do just the trick for a demo.

They don't look so bad, really.


Bright as a Button Blanket Squares -- How to Block

Well, a little bad. But I could tug on them a bit, right? Maybe they'll look better when I get them all joined together. But what if they don't?

Bright as a Button Blanket Squares -- How to Block

This is easy peasy to solve. Here's my method for wet-blocking...

Stuff you'll need to gather:
~Spray bottle with water (for misting your pieces)
~Ironing board
~Old pillow case cut up the side seams
~Rust-proof or rust-resistant pins

Note: Those pins really do need to be rust-proof or at a minimum rust-RESISTANT, because you REALLY don't want little rust spots messing up your hours of hard work. Stainless steel or brass is rust-PROOF. Nickel-plated are rust-RESISTANT. But what if you have pins sitting around and you don't know what they are. Hint: If they don't stick to a magnet, they are probably stainless steel and good to go. Otherwise, you might want to make a trip to the store to be certain.

How to Wet Block your Crochet Motifs

These pins are nickel-plated and I have used them a LOT and never had a problem. You decide if the risk is worth it. :)

Now, where to pin your piece...??
My favorite place is an ironing board! Why? 
~It is a convenient height. 
~It holds pins firmly. 
~It is large enough to pin quite a few motifs at once--
since I often put this off until the end of my project.
~It can be moved as needed while your pieces are drying.
~It can easily be covered with a pillow case (see below).

Why would you bother to cover your ironing board if it is already covered?  It's simply another level of protection for your crocheted work. I know my ironing board cover sometimes has starch, water stains, etc. that I don't want to transfer onto my yarny beauty!! And an old pillowcase is the perfect width. When cut up each seam, it extends out to cover the entire board.

How to Wet Block your Crochet MotifsHow to Wet Block your Crochet Motifs

Plus, it has some other terrific options...

If you use a plaid one like this, the lines on the case help you to "square" your squares.


How to Wet Block your Crochet Motifs

Or a dotty one like this can help in a similar way. 

How to Wet Block your Crochet Motifs

I have even marked gridlines on my cut pillow case with a permanent marker. I typically mark lines an inch apart and that way I don't have to measure each motif with a measuring tape and can make them all say, "6 inches" at a glance.


How to Wet Block your Crochet Motifs


How to Wet Block your Crochet Motifs

Now get those little beauties pinned down. Use as many pins as you need to hold it in place. If you spray them slightly before pinning, that yarn will get stretchier and more willing to shape. Then spray again lightly, if needed. You don't want them drippy and soggy. Just damp. 

Next step...don't move them until they are completely dry. That part's easy. 

How to Wet Block your Crochet Motifs

When they are dry after blocking, the fibers are more relaxed, the shape is crisp, the stitches are defined. You are on your way to a professional looking piece. See how much better than before?


How to Wet Block your Crochet Motifs


How to Wet Block your Crochet Motifs

Keep in mind that these sample squares are made with Red Heart Soft acrylic yarn which is an ideal fiber for wet-blocking, but you can use this technique with other fibers, too. And there are other blocking methods out there. This is just my go-to favorite.


How to Wet Block your Crochet Motifs

Now, what if you made a baby blanket or afghan--say, not with motifs or worked join-as-you-go--and it has a wonky border or just doesn't seem "square"? I've blocked finished blankets on my ironing board, as well. It is a little less precise and needs to be done in sections, but is still do-able. Hey, we crocheters are creative, right? 

Give blocking a go--I think you'll be pleased with the results. Then pass it on to your other hooky friends so they can be impressed, too!!

This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies. www.deramores.com/blog-awards

| On the Board | -- A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues. 
~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Susan Carlson of Felted Button -- Colorful Crochet Patterns



20 comments:

  1. Wonderful informative article. I started blocking a few months back, reluctantly, but now I just love the difference it makes and my crochet pieces look so neat and beautiful.
    Have a nice day. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol! I so understand the reluctant thing. But once you try it and see the results it is hard to go back! You do such lovely work, Sangeetha!

      Delete
  2. Thank you!!! I am just starting with blocking. I always thought, ehhh why bother, I sooo see why now!!
    And I LOVE the ironing board!! That's perfect!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lisa! I would love to hear how the ironing board works for you.

      Delete
  3. I love the steam blocking method! Using a hot iron and holding it one inch above the crochet (acrylic), then hitting the steam, button.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, it's a great method and super fast. I struggle to get the squares as square, though. Any good tricks?

      Delete
  4. Thanks so much for sharing!! Did not know how to block and I have recently started crocheting blocks, grannies, squares and such:D

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for this wonderful article. If I can get it together I will make a ping back.
    Thanks , Susan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Delete
  6. Here is how I did the ping back, since I could not get it to cross post.
    http://patternstriedandtrue.org/felted-button-wet-blocking

    ReplyDelete
  7. Those squares are sooo beautiful, Susan...I almost couldn't focus on what you wrote. My eyes kept wandering. Excellent tutorial, thank you. I will be linking to it when we get to blocking instructions for the Block a Week CAL.

    Take care,

    Dedri

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks, Dedri!! You are so sweet and I would love to be included in your Block a Week CAL. (BTW, I am going to make your cow puzzle pattern--I promise!! I'm seriously excited to try it--just ridiculously distracted!) <3

    ReplyDelete
  9. Fab tutorial! I do tend to block now, unless its a particularly crisp cotton that naturally holds its shape. I usually do it on a towel, folded up. Love the idea of the grid marks though! x

    ReplyDelete
  10. After reading you instructions, I too am going to give blocking a try. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great information, I don't normally do projects that need blocking but if I ever need to know I have this pinned to come back to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Caty! Blocking really does amazing things for projects! It takes things from looking good to looking great!

      Delete
  12. I love this!!! I am just starting to block and learn the importance of blocking and this is great!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lisa! I agree that blocking makes such a big difference! And some projects just NEED it to even hang correctly!

      Delete
  13. I never thought about this before - great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mary Kaye! It really makes a huge difference, I think.

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