How to Block Knit and Crochet Items

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How to Block Knit and Crochet Items

Whenever I recommend blocking an item, I sometimes am met with a blank stare and then some questions about exactly what, why, and how to do this. So I thought it would be helpful to put together a little tutorial to explain just that … How to Block Knit and Crochet Items.

 

What is blocking?

Blocking is the method of shaping your finished knit or crochet piece to your desired size and shape or the dimensions noted in a pattern. It also helps open up your stitches to help make them look more even and defined. There are a few different methods of blocking. Some people prefer to fully saturate their piece in water, some just spritz and pin, and others prefer to use steam. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with the steam approach so for the purposes of this tutorial I am just going to stick with wet blocking.

 

Why block?

Blocking an item definitely improves the look of the piece. As discussed above, not only does it mold the piece into its final shape and size, but it also helps enhance the stitches and leaves your piece with a more professional and nicely finished look. It can also help bring out the beauty of the yarn, especially if it was made with a natural fiber like wool, silk, alpaca, etc.

 

How to block?

I prefer wet blocking, which is essentially wetting your piece, shaping it, and letting it dry. But before beginning you should always check your yarn label … if a yarn calls for dry cleaning only, don’t block it! If you are making an item with multiple parts that will be pieced together, such as a granny square afghan or a garment, you can either block the pieces individually before sewing them together or piece them together and then block the item as a whole. I prefer to sew everything together and then block it, but it is really just a matter of preference.

Here is what you will need:

  • small basin or spray bottle (depending on whether you are fulling saturating your piece or just spritzing)
  • tape measure
  • clean, dry towels
  • blocking board (optional)
  • blocking pins
  • mild shampoo or wool wash (optional)
  • your piece to be blocked
    How to Block Knit and Crochet Items ... Blocking Supplies

For most items, I find that spritzing with a spray bottle is all I need, but for heavier weight yarn I like to fully saturate the piece in a basin.

For the spritz approach, fill your spray bottle with room temperature water … not hot! (Hot water can actually make natural fibers felt together. Although I love felting items, it is not always the result I am looking for. You can read more about felting here.) Pin your item to a blocking board (or a few layers of towels), easing the piece to the size and shape you want and pinning to hold in place. For really lacy pieces you might want to try blocking wires instead of pins (see bottom of post for links to blocking supplies).

Blocking Knit and Crochet

Then spray your piece down with water. The water will usually help make your piece more moldable, so feel free to continue to ease it into shape until you are happy. If my piece is overly saturated, I blot it down with a dry, clean towel and then let it air dry the rest of the way. That’s it! Once dry it is ready to unpin and wear!

wet blocking crochet and knit

For heavier weight items I fill a basin with some room temperature water and completely submerge the item. You can add a little wool wash to the water beforehand if you wish to soften up and condition the fibers (and give it a pretty smell). If using a wash make sure to fully rinse out your piece after. Once fully saturated, take the piece out letting the excess water drip and lay it on some dry and clean towels. Do not ever twist or wring out your piece! Lay some more dry towels on top and roll the item up in the towels to press out the water. Repeat with additional dry towels if necessary until your piece is just damp. Once done, ease your piece into shape. You can pin it on a blocking board as described above or just shape with your hands and let it dry on a dry towel. You can even stuff your piece with some plastic bags to hold the shape if you’d like as I did with my felted hook case here. Once dry, you are all set to wear!

That’s it … pretty easy, huh?! And you will be amazed at the transformation of your piece. Give it a try and let me know how you make out. You can even take some before and after photos to share on my Facebook page if you wish.

And if you are interested in buying blocking supplies, you can also help support my blog by purchasing through the affiliate links below …
 

32 Responses to How to Block Knit and Crochet Items

  1. Melanie October 6, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    I like the picture of your little helper! 🙂

    • Kara October 6, 2014 at 10:25 am #

      Thanks, Melanie 🙂 That’s his favorite part!

  2. Ellie G October 6, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    This came at the perfect time for me! I just finished a Halloween table runner made out of size 10 cotton yarn and it is really crooked!

    • Kara October 6, 2014 at 10:25 am #

      Hope it helps!

  3. Christine October 6, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    Can you block acrylic yarn or only wool? What happens if you wash your piece? Does that ruin the blocking? I’ve always wondered about this

  4. Marilyn October 6, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Blocking takes some time but it really takes a garment from homemade looking to WOW!

  5. Pat October 8, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    Good article Kara. I, too, like to block my finished items. I use a shower curtain liner on the floor in a low traffic carpeted area. This is great for lap robes and especially lace shawls. It opens up the lace so the lovely pattern really shows. Thank you Kara for all your great patterns and tutorials. You are blessed with a lot of talent.

  6. Jan October 8, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Where could I find the blocking board seen in the pictures.

  7. phyllis October 8, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    HI

    I couldn’t believe the difference in my first before and after blocking project. It was a granny square baby blanket. It looked awful! I thought I’d have to scrap the whole thing. My friend advised taking it apart and blocking it. I could NOT believe the difference. I was hooked on the spot.

    I steam. It is very similar to the spritzing with your water bottle. I advise not touching your project with the steamer, but rather float the steamer above the project.

    I like to block my granny squares before sewing because it makes all the squares uniform and thus easier to stitch or crochet together. Just my personal preference.

  8. Maud October 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    I have a question that I can’t figure out the answer to – do you have to re-block items after you wash them? Once I can deal with, but if I have to do it every time I wash them…. I don’t want to become a slave to my clothing.

    • Sandy Sawyer October 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

      I want to know the answer to this question, too. It is especially important in giving crocheted items as gifts; you need to provide instructions for maintaining the item. What’s the answer?

      • Kara October 13, 2014 at 8:37 am #

        It really depends on the type of garment, but yes, any time a piece needed blocking it probably will again once washed. It doesn’t have to be a complicated process and really can just be laying it flat to dry

  9. Tourniron October 10, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Thank you for the advice, I will surely apply it (I tried once to iron a scarf with a wet cloth on it but spoiled my work :-()

  10. Sue February 14, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    I made a wrap a few months ago. I did just as you said and pinned it down and sprayed it with water. Still the corners of it turn up. 🙁 Any suggestions??

    • Kara February 16, 2015 at 11:39 am #

      Hi Sue 🙂 That stinks! Did you really saturate the piece and then let it dry? The only other thing that I could think is that the edging might be too tight so it rolls.

  11. Karen Vinsant March 15, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

    There is no mention of the tape measure. What is it for?

  12. Sherry Fisk December 15, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

    I am crocheting a peacock afghan and have 102 “peacock feathers” to appliqué on the afghan. Should I block each feather individually before appliqeing or should I sew each feather on the base afghan and then block the entire item at one time?

    • Kara December 16, 2016 at 1:14 pm #

      Hi Sherry 🙂 It really is your preference. I think I would prefer blocking the whole thing at once though.

  13. Pat January 29, 2017 at 5:38 pm #

    It is my belief that ALL knitting must be blocked if you want to call it finished. It is poor workmanship if you are showing a lovely knitted item, and you don’t block it. It is similar to wearing a lovely evening gown, with sneakers! Not nice.

    If you put hot water in the spray bottle, it sprays out cold. Did you ever try it?? I just finished spinning some wool, and I actually simmered it in a pot with some soap for about an hour to get out some old grease that hardened. It did NOT felt at all!! You are spreading around an old wives tale — unless you are an old wife! Don’t say things if you have never done it. You just don’t know, so don’t say.

    I prefer to wet block all my items. Of course, it goes without saying that synthetics just don’t respond to blocking, so that is a waste of time. There is not much point to using synthetics unless you really like them. It sets my back teeth on edge if I have to touch it! But you do what you like. For me, it seems such a waste of time and skill to use an inferior yarn that will look like crap after a wash or two. Better to use quality (although not expensive!) products and create quality knitting that will last longer than I will.

    Please, ALwAYS block any knitting you have done to completely finish it. That is always the final step — don’t do any knitting without doing it completely to the end.

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