Crochet Thursday: Get the Kinks Out With These Tips for Blocking Crochet
Along your crocheting journey, you will almost certainly need to block at some point. A good blocking can take a ho-hum crocheted piece, to a stunning work of art. Blocking a project is the last and final step to making any crocheted garment not just look handmade, but polished and professional. If you’ve never blocked anything before, it can seem a little confusing. Here’s some tips to get you going.
1. Read that label
Start by reading your yarn label because it has care instructions. It will tell you if the yarn is superwash, what temperature of water to use, and the best way to clean the fabric the yarn will create.
2. Wash that project
You’ve been carting your soon-to-be crocheted garment, working on it in every spare moment, touching it, measuring it, (if you’re me) eating near it. The truth is, it definitely needs a good wash. Washing your crochet wear will not only relax and clean the fibers, but will help get out any extra dye that may be in the yarn as well.
How to wash your crochet wear:
To wash your crochet garment, fill a large basin with lukewarm water. If you must use your sink, be sure to clean it first before soaking anything!
Add a small amount of wool wash to the water as you’re filling it up.
Now add your garment, gently pushing it under to get all the trapped air in the fibers out and fully sock the piece. Gentle is the key word here. Depending on your fiber, you want to avoid agitating the fabric too much in case it starts to felt (that’s also why we’re using cool water).
Allow it to sit for at least 20 minutes or longer. Drain the water. If you notice a lot of dye coming out or dirty water, go ahead and soak it again until the water runs clear.
3. Get the water out
You do not want to wring a crocheted garment. That is going to cause undesirable stretching to the fabric and possibly felting.
To get the water out, gently squeeze out as much water as you can. My favorite way to get all the water out of a crocheted garment is the washing machine. I squeeze out the water (sometimes I don’t even try that hard), then lay it in the washing machine drum carefully (I have a top loader). I run the washer on a Drain/Spin cycle and the garment comes out damp and ready to be blocked!
In order for a garment to fit like it’s supposed to, you’re going to need your tape measure. With the garment schematic in hand, begin to gently lay and shape the garment to the correct measurements.
For this cardigan, I began by smoothing the back and back collar down, then crossing the fronts over. I measured the chest width to make sure it was where I wanted. Move on the arms, measuring length while you smooth and straighten. If you’re having a hard time getting things to stay (perhaps you have a folded collar, a cuff, etc.), straight pins are a great tool to keep handy. Blocking wires can also help straighten the button bands if you’re really particular.
5. Additional tips
- Block the crocheted garment in a room that has a ceiling fan and/or plenty of ventilation. The more air movement, the sooner you’ll be able to wear your new garment!
- Keep in mind some crochet stitches stretch. The sweater I blocked is done entirely in single crochet in the back loop only and the sleeves can grow terribly long. Be sure to take your time working your piece back into shape. Lots of stretching widthwise and scrunching of the single crochet got my sleeve back into shape.
- That being said, you will have more luck stretching a wet garment to increase length than you will width.
- If you cannot (or do not want to) wet block a garment, lay it out first and pin to measurement, then carefully run a steaming hot iron about 1-2 inches over the piece. This will also help loosen the fabric and block your piece without soaking the whole thing. This works especially well for small items or areas that need a little extra shaping.