What is Wet Blocking in Crochet?
Wet blocking is a technique used by both crocheters and knitters to improve the appearance, shape and drape of their finished projects. Blocking helps even out stitches, sets the shape, and can give a more professional look to handmade items.
In this process, the crocheted piece is wet, pinned into its desired shape, and allowed to dry fully before using.
This method is particularly popular for items that require a defined and precise shape, such as lace shawls, doilies, and intricate patterns. It is also great for opening out and showing off delicate lacy stitches or filet crochet.
Wet blocking employs various materials, including foam blocking mats, stainless steel pins, and spray bottles or basins for water.
Before starting, it can be a good idea to test a small swatch of the project’s yarn to ensure it responds well to wet blocking. Not all yarns are suitable for this method, and some may lose their shape or color when wet. By testing a swatch, you can avoid any unwanted surprises and ensure your finished project looks exactly as you envisioned.
Let’s look a little deeper now and see exactly what wet blocking your crochet projects entails.
Before you begin wet blocking your crochet project, you will need to gather the necessary materials. This section will outline what you’ll need to wet block your crochet pieces.
Blocking Boards and Pins
Blocking boards or mats are used for laying out your crochet project to maintain its shape during the wet blocking process. There are different types of blocking boards available, including foam tiles or specially designed mats with grids:
- Foam tiles – These interlocking tiles provide a flexible workspace that can be customized to the size of your project.
- Grid mats – Grid mats feature markings to help you align and maintain even measurements throughout the blocking process.
If you don’t have these, some people use a mattress as a surface for blocking their crochet projects.
Blocking pins are used to secure your crochet piece to the blocking board. They should be rustproof and have a T-bar head, making them easy to insert and remove without damaging your work.
Water and Towels
Water is used to saturate the crochet piece, allowing the fibers to relax and reshape. You can use cold, warm, or lukewarm water depending on the type of fiber in your project. Be sure to consult yarn labels or manufacturer recommendations for proper care of specific fiber types.
Some people like to add some gentle detergent to the water to give their project a wash and freshen up too. However, make sure that any detergent you use is suitable for your yarn.
You will also need to have one or more clean towels on hand to soak up excess water from your wet crochet item.
Step-by-Step Wet Blocking Process
To start the wet blocking process, gather the necessary materials, including:
- A clean basin or sink
- Lukewarm water
- A mild detergent or specialized wool wash solution (optional)
- Clean towels
- Blocking pins or rust-proof pins
- A blocking board or foam mat
- Your crochet item that is to be blocked
Before soaking your crochet piece, ensure it has been finished and all loose ends woven in.
2. Soaking and Removing Excess Water
Begin by filling the basin or sink with lukewarm water. If you are using it, add a small amount of detergent or wool wash now. Mix the solution gently. Submerge your crochet item into the water, making sure it is fully soaked. Allow it to sit for 15-30 minutes.
Once soaked, carefully rinse the item in clean water (if you used detergent), then remove the item from the water without wringing or twisting. Gently squeeze out excess water by pressing the item between your hands or against the basin. To remove more water, place the item on a clean towel, fold the towel over, and press down firmly. This should absorb some of the remaining moisture.
3. Shaping and Pinning
Spread your crochet piece out on a clean, flat surface, ideally a blocking board or foam mat. Begin gently shaping the item into the desired form, taking care not to stretch too much. Consider using measurements or a reference pattern to help with accuracy.
Once the piece is shaped to your satisfaction, secure it in place using blocking pins or rust-proof pins, spaced evenly around the edges. Insert the pins at a slight angle, away from the item’s center, to help maintain tension while it dries.
Allow the crochet piece to dry completely before removing the pins. This may take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, depending on its size, thickness, and the environment’s humidity. If possible, leave your item to dry in a warm and well-ventilated room. You could consider leaving a window open.
Make sure the item has fully dried before using or storing it to prevent any potential damage or unwanted odors.
Alternative Blocking Techniques
Aside from wet blocking, there are other techniques that can be employed to achieve a well-defined shape for your crochet projects. In this section, we will explore two of these alternatives: steam blocking and spray blocking.
Steam blocking is another method for reshaping your crochet work. It is particularly useful when working with delicate or heat-sensitive yarns, like acrylic and silk. The process involves using the steam from an iron or steamer to relax the fibers, allowing them to settle into a desired shape.
Follow these steps to steam block a crochet item:
- First, lay your project on a heat-resistant surface, such as an ironing board, and pin it to the desired dimensions.
- Next, fill your steam iron or steamer with water and heat it up.
- Gently apply steam to your project, being careful not to touch the fibers directly with the iron, as this could cause them to melt or become damaged.
- Once you have thoroughly steamed the entire piece, let it cool and dry completely before unpinning.
Spray blocking is a more gentle approach that works well for lightweight or delicate projects, such as lace or doilies. It is similar to wet blocking, but you don’t fully submerge the piece in water. Instead, you simply use a spray bottle filled with water to dampen the fibers.
Follow these steps to spray block a crochet item:
- Start by laying your project on a flat surface, such as a blocking mat, and position it to the desired shape.
- Fill a spray bottle with water and lightly mist your crochet piece. Make sure it’s damp, but not soaking wet.
- Use pins or weights to gently stretch and hold your work into the desired dimensions, and then let it dry completely before removing the pins.
Which Kinds of Crochet Items Can be Wet Blocked?
Generally, almost all crochet items can benefit from blocking. The only exceptions are 3D items such as amigurumi and baskets, where blocking is not really possible.
Here are some examples of the kinds of projects that can benefit from blocking:
- Crochet Motifs: Motifs such as squares and hexagons can benefit from blocking before joining to ensure that they are all the same size and shape. You can special wooden blocking boards for this with pegs, where the motifs are stacked on on top of the other as they dry.
- Shawls and Scarves: Shawls and scarves, especially those with lacy, open stitchwork can look so much better after blocking, when the delicate patterns are much more visible.
- Blankets: Blocking your blankets can help straighten out any uneven of curling edges.
- Mats and Coasters: Mats and coasters will need blocking to make sure that they lie flat.
- Appliques: Crochet appliques can benefit from blocking to stop them from curling up at the edges.
- Sweaters and Cardigans: Garments can also benefit from blocking, especially when made from thinner yarns. This can help ensure that they are the desired size and also that any fancy stitchwork can really shine. It can also help to even out and inconsistencies in tension.
- Socks: Even socks can benefit from blocking and you can get special sock blockers shaped like socks especially for this purpose!
Try blocking your next crochet creation and see what a difference it makes.
What is Wet Blocking in Crochet? Conclusion
Blocking is a process applied to finished crochet items to shape them and even out stitches. It can also help to open out delicate or lacy stitchwork. Blocking can greatly improve the overall appearance of your final project.
Wet blocking involves soaking an item, carefully removing excess water with a towel, and then pinning the item out on blocking mats into the desired shape to dry.
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