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  • Writer's pictureLucy Duffy

How to Block your Knit & Crochet items - The beginners guide.

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Have you ever finished creating a beautiful scarf or jumper, only to be disappointed by how it looks when you put it on? Maybe it's too big, too small, or just doesn't look as good as you thought it would.

A cartoon style image of a person wearing a huge, oversized jumper.

If so, you're definitely not alone. This is a common problem for knitters & crocheters, & usually it's caused by one thing - not blocking your finished item.

Now, I know some of you might be scratching your heads and wondering what on earth I'm talking about. Don't worry, you're not alone! Blocking is one of those things that sounds mysterious & complicated, but once you understand what it is & what a difference it makes, you'll be wondering how you ever managed without it.

In this blog post, I will run through the main things you need to know about blocking, from what it is to how to do it. I'll also share some tips and tricks to help you get the best results.

So, whether you're a beginner knitter/crocheter or a seasoned professional, read on for everything you need to know about blocking!


What is blocking?

So, what exactly is blocking? At it's most basic level, blocking is the process of shaping and setting your finished knit or crochet item by manipulating it into the desired size & shape, & then allowing it to dry in that position.

This can involve stretching, pinning, wetting, steaming, or any combination of those methods, depending on the type of yarn you're using & the finished product you want to achieve. It also helps to even out the stitches & bring out the beauty of the stitch pattern used.

Why should I block my projects?

Blocking isn't essential but there are several reasons why you might prefer to block your project. The following are just some examples.

  • If you've ever made a jumper, shawl or similar, you'll know that the finished item can tend to look a little wonky or misshapen. Blocking can help to set the shape of your work, so that it looks the way it's supposed to.

Two images showing the same jumper, one of it looking misshapen & the other of it looking as it should.

  • Depending on the type of yarn you've used, it can sometimes feel a bit scratchy, stiff & uncomfortable. Blocking can help to soften up the fibres, making it more comfortable to wear.

  • Depending on the type of yarn you're using & the method you choose, you can actually manipulate the size of your finished product. To make it bigger, you can block it before it has finished drying. This will help the stitches to relax & the fabric to stretch. If you want to make an item smaller, you can block it after it has finished drying. This will help the stitches to shrink & the fabric to contract.

  • If your project has been made with a yarn that wrinkles easily such as cotton or linen, blocking can help to remove the creases.

  • Some of your stitches may be tighter or looser than others, creating an uneven surface. Blocking can help to smooth out those inconsistencies, resulting in a more polished, professional finish.

What equipment do you need for blocking?

Now that you know the reason for blocking, let's talk about the equipment you'll need.

First of all, you'll need a surface to block on. This could be a blocking mat, a towel, or even a bedsheet (just make sure it's something you don't mind getting wet).

You'll also need some pins to shape the item - either T-pins or blocking wires, depending on the method you choose.

Finally, you'll need a way to get your fabric wet - this could be a spray bottle, a bowl of water, a steamer or even a gentle steam from your iron.

What different methods are there for blocking?

There are a few different ways to block your knitting or crochet projects. The best method will depend on the type of yarn & pattern you are using.

  • Wet blocking: This is the most common method for blocking knitting or crochet projects. To wet block, you'll need to soak your project in a solution of water & a mild detergent. Once your work is wet, you can shape it into the desired shape and size. You can use pins or wires to help hold your work in place while it dries.

  • Steam blocking: This is a quick and easy way to block your knitting or crochet projects. To steam block, you'll need to hover your steamer or iron over your work without actually touching it. The steam will help to soften the fibres in your work & allow you to shape it into the desired shape & size.

  • Spray blocking: This is a quick & easy way to block small knitting or crochet projects. To spray block, you can use a spray bottle filled with water to mist your work. Once your work is misted, you can shape it into the desired shape and size, using pins to hold it in place & then wait for it to dry.

No matter which method you choose, blocking your knitting or crochet projects can make a big difference in the overall look & feel of your work, & it's a great way to show off your hard work.

A hand knitted washcloth pinned out on a blocking board.

Do bare in mind that different fibres need to be blocked differently.

For instance wool is a natural fibre that will felt if it gets too wet, so you can wet block but be careful not to use water that's too hot & remember to gently squeeze the water out, NEVER wring the item. If spray blocking, use only a light mist of water when blocking wool items. You can also use steam which will help soften & relax the fibres but test it on an inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn't damage the yarn.

Yarns made of synthetic fibres such as acrylic won't be affected by water so you can use any of the methods mentioned above for items you make with them. If you decide to use the steam method, again, check it on an inconspicuous area first.

Yarns made up of delicate fibres such as silk should be blocked with care. Spray blocking is a good option but make sure you use a cool mist of water & take care not to get the item too wet. Steam blocking can also be used but you know what I'm going to say - yes, test an inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn't damage the yarn. (Repetition intended, for emphasis!)

For plant-based fibres such as cotton & linen, you'll want to use spray blocking as this method is gentler than wet blocking & won't cause the fibres to stretch out of shape.

Tips to get the best out of your blocking.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Choose the right method for your yarn type.

  • Use a light touch. You don't want to over-block your items, as this can make them look stiff & unnatural.

  • Use the right tools. You only need a few basic tools for blocking your knitting or crochet. Blocking mats are really good, but can be an expensive outlay if you're just starting out & you can just as easily use a thick towel but pins are important.

  • Be patient. Blocking can take some time, especially for larger items.

  • Have fun! Blocking your project can be a fun & rewarding process. Take your time & enjoy seeing the polished look it gives to all your hard work.

Final thoughts.

Blocking is a simple process that can make a big difference in the appearance of your hand-made items. It's a great way to set the shape & size of your items, even out the stitches, & make them look more finished. Blocking isn't essential, but it is a great way to take your knitting or crochet to the next level.

The information in this post, might not make you an instant expert on blocking, but I hope that it will give you the confidence to be able to use it to make your hand-made items look better than ever.

If you're new to blocking, start with a simple item & experiment with different methods. With a little practice, you'll soon be blocking your hand-made items like a pro.

This post may contain affiliate links. As a lovecrafts Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This means that if you make a purchase from those links, I will receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your continued support!

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