I have a mental block about blocking… I hate it!
I try to block everything because I know that it is worth it, especially with lacy type stuff, it really helps to open up the stitches and just makes finished pieces look better in general. But this does not stop me hating it. I think it’s due to my lack of patience. I spend so much time crocheting (or now knitting) and I don’t mind if a project takes me weeks, but I cannot stand the time it takes me to block and the how fiddly it is.
I am sure that in time, and with more experience this hatred of blocking will dissipate I think it is probably due to my inexperience that I get so frustrated with it; which stitches should I put the pins in? How much do I ‘stretch’ the item, how do I get a straight edge on all edges without pulling at stitches (this is particularly annoying with double crochet (US) edges).
I am getting better, with both my technique and my patience, and I am learning with each piece I block.
I finished my first crochet shawl in Jan of this year and it sat for 4 months, neatly folded in my crochet corner waiting for some blocking attention, every weekend I would say “This will be the weekend when that shawl gets blocked” but each weekend passed and it didn’t get done until I had a week off work in May.
I have spent a lot of time researching blocking methods and trying out a few, so I have put a list of some good tutorials and sites with information on blocking, particularly from a crochet point of view.
To block I use those big jigsaw-like kids mats that I got from a friend. I use T-pins as much as possible, but as I don’t have a huge number of them, I also use my regular steel dressmakers pins when needed. I usually leave my blocking to be done in batches of 3 or 4 items, so I run out of space and pins very easily. If I did it as each item was finished it would make life easier but I never do…I have to motivate myself to do it and this usually takes the same time as it does for me to make a few more items for blocking!
I usually block items by soaking them in luke-warm water with a bit of detergent (I love Soak!) for about 15 mins. I then let the water out of the sink and very gently squeeze out the excess water. I then wrap in a towel and stand on it to get out more water before moving to the mat for blocking.
I gently pull and poke the piece into shape and then pin…I do find it hard to decided when the best place to pin is, especially with loose stitches, I never want to pull them out of shape but if I pin too gently it can not end up the right size/shape etc. I am always very careful to try to pull from the piece gently from the centre out, so that you don’t just end up with stretched edges and no stretching/blocking in the centre.
A friend of mine always blocks by first pinning down the object when it is dry and then spraying it with water and leaving to dry. I have tried this for a lacy scarf I made and while it means the item is dry much quicker because it doesn’t get as saturated, I found it much more difficult to cajole the item into the shape/size etc that you want. Even though you need to be more careful when the item is totally wet because the fibers are weakened, I think it works much better.
Anyway here is a list of some interesting articles and tutorials on blocking that I have found on my internet travels. Some of these come from the crochet point of view, and some about knitting.
- Doris Chan – Blocking just do it and Blocking is Your Friend – The first is a nice article about why crocheter don’t seem to block as much as knitters, but why we should. The second is some detailed instructions about blocking. I love Doris Chan…well worth looking around her site – she has interesting blog posts about various aspects of crochet.
- Alicia Paulson on rosylittlethings using the spraying method ???????
- Yarnharlot on blocking knitted lace shawls
- A knitty.com article on blocking which talks about the different fibers on how to block them and the tools to use.
- Eunny Jang with a general article on blocking and another on blocking lace
- Coco Knits on the different blocking methods
- Blocking squares on crochetme.com
- Knittingdaily.com on blocking lace with blocking wires (I love blocking wires!)
- BeadKnitter on blocking acrylic and understanding how and why it is different to natural fibers – I used this recently and found it really useful!