The Importance of Blocking: A How To

comments (7) June 12th, 2008     

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LindaPermann Linda Permann, contributor
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Here are typical granny squares before you block them.
Gently stretch your squares into shape with T-pins.
Hold your iron about 1 inch above the piece, and let the steam saturate the fibers.
Here are typical granny squares before you block them.

Here are typical granny squares before you block them.

Photo: Linda Permann

Blocking isn't especially important on some projects (such as hats, for instance), but it can really whip your more intricate pieces into shape. If your project is small, you can block it on an ironing board or any padded surface—no special tools required. I even had a roommate who used to block on the carpet (if you do this, just remember to collect all of the pins when you've finished).

To demonstrate the difference blocking makes, let's start with two unblocked grannies. To block them, you'll need: a blocking board (or padded surface), T-pins (rustproof pins that hold your work in place; to save money, pick them up in bulk at an office-supply store), and an iron with a steam setting. Set your iron to the appropriate heat setting based on the fiber you're blocking, and only use it for natural fibers. (Note: Acrylic fibers should not be blocked with steam heat, as the heat may cause some of them to melt. Instead, pin them into shape, and spray them with water. Let the pieces dry, and remove the pins.)


Gently stretch your squares into shape with T-pins.

First, stretch your squares into shape by pinning the corners. Don't go too crazy with the stretching, just gently tug the motif into the desired shape and size. You can place more pins all around the square, depending on your desired level of perfection. If you're blocking multiple squares or a project with size specifications, measure your work to ensure that it is the right size or to make sure the squares are all the same size. Commercial blocking boards are gridded, which will make this an easier task, but a ruler works just as well.


Hold your iron about 1 inch above the piece, and let the steam saturate the fibers.

Next, hold your iron about 1inch above the piece. This is very important: do not press the piece, or let the iron touch the fibers, as it will flatten them. Hold the steaming iron over the work in sections, and give each section about 10 seconds of steam before moving to the next section. Allow the work to dry before you remove the pins.


Note the difference between an unblocked (left) and blocked (right) square.

Here's the difference between the unblocked (left) and blocked (right) square (I forgot to take out the pins, but the square does hold the shape once pins are removed). It's definitely worth taking the time to perform this finishing technique; after a few simple projects, you'll really see the difference.

 

See more of my projects on my personal blog, and look for my new book, Crochet Adorned, in stores August 11, 2009.

posted in: tutorial, blocking

Comments (7)

creddy writes: Ha!! I always assumed that doilies were starched to help them keep their shape. I had no idea what blocking was till I came across this post -- thanks for showing how simple it is!
Posted: 10:28 pm on January 13th
LindaPermann writes: chips48- I recommend you actually get a blocking board then, it should be big enough for doilies. They have small ones at Joann's and the like (they are in the quilting section at mine-- not the same as the notions aisle, but over by the fabric). You could also get a big one like this: http://www.patternworks.com/productdetail/900020.htm--seems pricey, but if you are going to use it over and over then it's worth it.

I've also been known to use my ironing board, or a towel on top of the carpet (if carpet can be pinned into-- make sure the towel is clean). There are more suggestions here: http://www.knittingdaily.com/blogs/daily/archive/2008/12/03/what-to-use-for-a-blocking-board-if-you-don-t-have-one.aspx (be sure to read through comments).
Posted: 3:16 am on June 4th
chips48 writes: This is a very helpful article. Thanks for sharing it with us. Could you tell me what is the best thing to use for a blocking board? I mainly want to use it for blocking doilies, etc.

Regards

Christine
Posted: 2:19 am on June 4th
ohnoshesews writes: I always knew I was supposed to block my squares but never took the time to do it because I thought it was too much trouble. This method is sooo easy! It's kinda like ironing your seams flat when sewing quilt blocks.... a little bit of time and effort makes all the difference in the world. Thanks for the great tutorial.

Posted: 8:36 pm on March 6th
classysassy1 writes: this is a very good idea especially when making afghans that are squares and circles. I made this afghan recently, and if the squares are not exactly right, it throws the whole afghan off.
Posted: 1:50 pm on February 21st
LindaPermann writes: It really is simple- especially for small projects. I only started blocking a couple of years ago and once I realized what a difference it makes (especially on lacy things) I became addicted.
Posted: 11:52 am on June 22nd
Nikki77 writes: I've heard of blocking but never really knew what it was. Thanks for taking something I sort of feared and feared learning about, turning it into a simple technique that everyone can do.
Posted: 1:57 pm on June 20th
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