Blocking Tutorial

comments: 79

Okay, this is so easy it's almost not fair to call it a tutorial. I was up way past my usual bedtime of 8:45 p.m. last night (Portlanders what did you think of the Wilco show last night? [Wilco, why are you so awesome?] I was very happy. First time I've seen them inside. :-) so I am sorry I am late getting to everything today.

But now. Blocking the Sunshine Day Afghan. Blocking is a process of gently stretching your finished knitted or crocheted items and then treating them with water or steam so that the fibers relax and the piece becomes all nice and soft and smooth and untroubled (instead of the taut, anxious little curled up thing it seems to want to be after it comes off your needles or hook). Blocking is like Ativan for yarn. What follows is not the only way to block, but it is the way I block everything I make. I can't really speak to other methods, but please feel free to leave any suggestions or corrections or helpfulness in the comments because I always like to learn about these things, and I will update this post with anything relevant and helpful that comes in.

I recently got a blocking board. I had wanted one for quite a while and just hadn't gotten around to making the effort, but for something like a blanket that is on such an obvious grid, this board was invaluable. Please note: I didn't do a lot of research because, as you know, my goal with major purchases isn't to get the smartest or the best or the best value or anything mature and reasonable like that — that's so not my style. My goal is generally to get the whole purchasing experience over with as quickly as possible. But I ran into this (large size) blocking board from Custom Knits Manufacturing and it worked very well, and I am happy with it. So please take that for what it's worth.

BlockingTute1

To begin blocking, lay the board out on a table —  you are going to be spraying water here, so make sure it is a work table or a waterproof surface (or even a bed, which can take getting damp and will dry just fine). This is the beat up work table that we use for stuff like this, and it is great to have (and will save your back, as opposed to the bed). Place your blanket on the board at the "zero" corner. My gauge for these grannies was 3.5" (9cm) per square, with a 1" (2.5cm) border.

BlockingTute2

I used fine, sharp 1 1/4" (3cm) nickel-plated (so they won't rust) T-pins, which you can get at any fabric store. (Get 200 of them; I used more than 100 for this.) I pushed the squares around a bit so that I could place a pin on the seam between every two squares while keeping each square to gauge.

BlockingTute3

Keep pinning all the way down the length of one side, placing pins every 3.5".

BlockingTute4

The nice thing about the blocking board is that you can turn the board 90 degrees, then begin pinning down the next length.

BlockingTute5

Go all the way around. I was tugging on this a bit on the third and fourth side; just be sure you are moving the blanket toward the edges from the middle, and not just pulling on the edges and stretching them out of shape.

BlockingTute6

You can see how it wants to spring back in toward the center. But that's okay. Once it gets its water bath, it will chillax and be happy.

BlockingTute7

Here comes the water bath. Spray spray spray until it is all nice and saturated. Don't worry, you won't felt the yarn — you'd need heat and agitation for that. Just add water by spraying in an even layer until you can see that your work is dampened through (you can see that it looks all fuzzy here).

BlockingTute8

Then go back in and finish pinning down the edges, every inch or so, until you have nice smooth lines without obvious puckers toward the center. Then give it another little spray for good measure, clean off the table, and leave it to sit until it's completely dry (overnight, at least —  this one took two days).

BlockingTute9

Oooo, and it's so, so fun to unpin it. Just you wait.

79 comments

Gorgeous. I've never tried it before but it looks simple. Thanks.

That board looks like a wonderful tool! How long does blocking "last"?

Thanks for posting this! Do you block everything you knit/crochet? I just finished my first big project (a scarf) and I was wondering if I should block it. It seems fine and doesn't curl, but could it be better with blocking?

I've had trouble blocking small projects, and it looks like I just wasn't using enough pins. Thanks for the guide, even if it is a simple process! Also, I'm going to see Wilco in Chapel Hill next month and CANNOT WAIT!

I just got your pattern and I'm so excited to start. But I was also wondering, do you have to block every time you wash your blanket?? Thanks for a great project.

So pretty! Can't wait to see it all squared up and pretty!

"like Ativan for yarn" - bwa!

That last photo is so....satisfying.

Stitch Sista says: February 10, 2010 at 04:44 PM

I saw Wilco play in Melbourne (Australia) year before last and they were just so awesomely awesome...can't wait til they visit here again!

Blanket is beautiful too. I bought the pattern, now to get started!

Best blocking tutorial! :) I'll be treating myself to a large blocking board soon - using blocking squares (interlocking) completely changed my life in the best possible ways, so a board will be even better!

And beautiful, beautiful afghan.

Thanks for sharing! I've never blocked on of my afghans before, but now I know how. :) Melissa

I haven't crocheted in ages and may not for a while, but I enjoyed reading about blocking. As someone above me said - very satisfying to see it all work out. And interesting too. I appreciate that you have added to my information stash - who knows when someone I know will be trying to figure out how to block and afghan and now I will be able to direct them to a very informative and helpful link!

~ginger

I like the spray bottle idea. I usually soak the piece in water and eucalan and then block the piece. I like the blocking board...I usually pin the item to towels on the floor! Pretty blanket!

Thank you! Good, approachable info can be so hard to find, and I totally messed up a nice lacy scarf by blocking it wrong. Next time I'll try this method. Thank you so much!

Oh, and the blanket is beautiful!

what brand of yarn did you use for this project? i just finished my first afghan and feel like the yarn is too "stretchy", is there such a thing as a soft enough yarn for a baby that holds structure well? any help is appreciated :)

This is very helpful! Thank you for posting this!

It is so beautiful, and it looks great blocked. I find blocking strangely therapeutic, though up to this point, I have just pinned things to my ironing board. I would love to get a big blocking board when I tackle a larger project.

This info was SO helpful to me! Thank you!!

A blocking board. Who knew? I've always soaked stuff on top of my bed and then wondered where I'm going to sleep that night.

Holy moly sweetie that is just absolutely gorgeous! I may have to try something just like that... soon... in the future.

Wish my bedtime was 8:45.... I could use the sleep!

This is my favorite way of blocking too. It dries quickly and is easy to manage. The only time I do anything different is if I'm working with an itchy wool and it will be against my skin. Then I like to give it a real bath with hair conditioner. That softens the itchy wool up nicely, makes the wool bloom, and smells good.

Great blocking board! I'm jealous.

I totally don't knit/crochet as you well know--but I am lusting after this amazing piece of yours. It would look really good in my bedroom. hee.

I hope you're enjoying all the sunshine, darlin'. I was in Cannon Beach on Monday and thought of you.

I was at the Wilco show last nite and it was amazing! That concert hall is wonderful and the band sounded awesome... it was my first time seeing them indoors too!

Man, oh man, that is one beautiful afghan! Wish I knew how to crochet---you made the blocking process sound very rewarding and fun. :)

This is jusst so timely, I was wondering "To block or not to block?". Now I have blocking board envy!

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My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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