Blocking, the all-important yet all-too-often skipped last step.
You find a great pattern, see the beautiful project in the photo, carefully check your gauge, crochet (or knit) the piece as perfectly as possible, but when you finish, it’s ok but….why doesn’t it look like that nice project in the photo?
Answer: You haven’t blocked the piece yet, have you?
Blocking is SO important for many knitted and crochet projects. As you work, the piece is naturally twisted and turned in different ways, so even if your stitches are perfectly even, without blocking, you won’t have the polished, professional, finished look that you probably desire. Blocking can flatten your piece, even out stitches, give the perfect shape to your piece, and soften the fibers. Just do it, PLEASE!!
What’s that? You’ve never heard of blocking before? Well yes, I suppose many patterns fail to mention this final step, so I don’t blame you. There are a few ways to block your work, but most often and most simply, it just means you wet your piece, lay it out flat (or for shaped pieces, stuff it) and allow it to dry. Lay your piece on something non-absorbent (I lay garbage bags out on the floor and put my wet pieces on the bags), and if you are stuffing your piece, also stuff with something non-absorbent (I use polyester fiberfill–the stuff toys are stuffed with–and would recommend it, but I’ve also heard of plastic wrap being used.)
You use something non-absorbant just so that the piece will dry properly without causing any stinky forgot-to-put-my-laundry-in-the-dryer smell.
Yepp it’s that easy. Wet, shape, dry. And yepp, it really is THAT important.
To demonstrate, I took some pictures of a scarf and some booties before and after blocking.
First, the scarf. I was experimenting with different stitches for scarves. This is made with beautiful merino wool and I didn’t want to waste it, so I kept making a scarf, pulling out all the stitches, and making a new one until I found the stitch I liked. By the final attempt, the yarn was really damaged. So the scarf just looked….terrible:
Yikes! But before giving up on it completely, I blocked it to see what would happen. I carried it to the tub, soaked it thoroughly, squeezed out the water, dabbed it some more with a towel, then laid it out on some trash bags :
Already looking better! And here’s the final result:
It’s not quite as good as new yarn, but its amazing how the stitches totally smoothed out, isn’t it? I even got some good enough shots to list this item on Etsy. But let me be clear, I would NEVER sell this on Etsy after re-using the yarn so many times; this will be MY scarf for the winter. Any purchased scarf will be made with NEW yarn!
For anyone curious about the stitch, it’s crochet. Super cool. Hefty like crochet, but very soft and elegent like knitting. To make the stitch, start with a row of half double crochets, then for each row after, you continue in half double crochets in the extra loop created by the half double crochet on the previous row.
Now, the booties. Here are the booties BEFORE blocking:
Yuck! A lumpy bumpy mess! But after blocking:
I hope this helped some of you; let me know, and also feel free to suggest anything else you would like me to blog about. Thanks for reading!