Blocking is the process of using water or steam to help you
shape your knit or crochet project to its final size and shape; it also
can help even up stitch tension and edges. For some projects, blocking
will make a big difference. For instance, lace patterns almost always
as it opens up the pattern. Don't think of blocking as a
make your too small sweater 3 sizes larger--but it can work wonders in
making your project more finished looking.
First, blocking involves a few "don'ts." Check your yarn label for
instructions. Don't block yarns labeled "dry clean only." Don't ever
your project in an attempt to block; you will wind up with a flat,
limp, lifeless mess. An iron should only be used to steam a project
(more on that below). Acrylic yarn, or yarn that has a high acrylic
content, does not usually block well. The best way to block acrylic is
to throw your project in the
washer and dryer, following label directions, which will help even out
If you are blocking a sweater or other garment that needs to be
whether to block it before or after you have seamed it together is
entirely up to you. Some people find that the pieces will lay flatter
and be easier to sew if blocked before seaming, but others may find
that it's only after seaming it that they decide it needs a little
For spray blocking (a method that's good for items that only need a
light blocking), you'll need a spray bottle with water, rust-proof pins
(T-pins available at craft or fabric stores are good for this job, and
a surface on which to block. If the piece is small,
you can fold one or two towels in half and lay them on top of one
another so it's thick enough to hold the pins. Blocking boards are also
sold for this purpose; these are handy as they come with measurements
and straight lines printed on the board. Some people make their own
blocking boards by wrapping fabric around foam boards to create a
smooth surface to pin into.
To spray block, lay out the item, spray with
water, and get out your measuring tape.
Follow the measurements of the pattern's schematic using your tape. Or
if it's a
scarf, be sure it measures the same width throughout. Gently pull the
piece so that the measurements are what they should be. Even up the
seams. Push ribbing in with your fingers. Work one area at a time,
spraying and pinning and making sure things are straight. Pin in place
using rust proof pins. The piece
should be completely dry before removing the pins.
To block a project that needs a little extra help, wet block the item.
Wash the item according to the care instructions (or simply submerge
fullly in water and gently ring out) and then follow the above
If your project needs severe blocking, you can try steaming.
But be gentle. Steaming means just that…it
doesn’t mean ironing! Lay out and pin your project to the correct
measurements. If you're using a steam iron, hold the iron about 10
inches above the piece until it's damp. You can
also lay a wet cloth over the piece and hold the iron above the cloth,
but again, do not press down or iron it. If you have a steamer, you can
hang the piece (or lay it out) and steam it until damp and then lay it
out, measure it, and pin it. Leave it in place until completely dry.
Note that with steam blocking, it's always a good idea to test this
first on a
swatch. Practice makes perfect! Do not steam ribbing, garter stitch,
cables or other very
textured stitches, as you will end up flattening them. Steam may also
damage your acrylics, as they are sensitive to heat.
Finally, keep in mind that while blocking is not
always necessary--especially if you are more experienced and knit with
an even tension throughout--washing your project according to the
yarn's care instructions should always be part of your finishing.
surprised at the amount of dirt and oil the yarn has picked up from
For photos of a piece before and
after blocking, click
here for a blog post from the Lion Brand Notebook.