A complete guide to WET BLOCKING your crochet and knit projects!
Posted on April 24, 2020
So you’ve spent alllll this time working up a beautiful crochet (or knit!) garment…or hat…or shawl…or whatever. Point is, you invested a lot of time, effort and money into whatever piece you are working on. Why not going the extra mile and really make sure it’s looking its very best when you are done!
I know, I know. Wet blocking – basically the process of soaking your finished piece in water and then laying it out, shaping it to look its very best, and letting it dry- can seem a little intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but I promise, its not so bad! And that extra little bit of effort will be so worth it when your crocheted piece is laying just perfect, or draping even more beautifully! It will open up lacy bits, even out color work, give your overall tension an even look, and will just have it fitting its best!
Let me walk you through how I go about blocking all of my finished item so that they really shine!
**in this tutorial I am blocking an upcoming shawl design- the Serenity and Shiloh– stay tuned for the release later in the Spring of 2020!
I also have a short video where I walk you through blocking a shawl (but it applies to any piece!) start to finish available if you’d rather watch than read!
HOW TO WET BLOCK YOUR CROCHET AND KNIT ITEMS:
First, you’ll need a few simple, inexpensive materials (a lot of which you might have on hand)!
You’ll need some sort of a blocking mat. You can get fiber- arts specific ones with grids and fanciness , but personally I just use interlocking workout mats I got at Aldi a few years back! (these aren’t the exact ones, but are similar!) Playroom mats are perfect too! But if you don’t want to purchase something you can also use several towels stacked up on top of each other, or even a yoga mat or two, if you have those on hand. Basically you just need a surface area a little bit larger than your crocheted item that you will be able to pin into!
Along with your mats you’ll need some pins. I use these Knit Blockers, which are like pins all lined up in a comb-like object, to save you some time placing individual pins and create nice straight lines, but you can also substitute regular sewing pins or T-pins if you have those on hand. Make sure they are no rust though, so they don’t damage your item! No pins? Some clean rocks or something heavy like that can work in a pinch too, but you’ll get neater lines with pinning!
Besides those, you’ll need access to warm water, a sink/basin/tub/bucket/etc to submerge your object in, and a towel (I like using beach towels cause they are nice and large!). If you need to make sure your item is to any specific measurement or size you might also want a tape measure (or is it measuring tape!? I never know!)
Lastly, a wool wash is a nice addition as well. Its basically an all-in-one shampoo conditioner for natural fibers (especially wool, but you can use it on anything!) that’s going to clean out any gunk left from oils from your hands as well as put some of the natural lanolin back into your fibers (if you’re using wool). Plus it leave it smelling great! You can find them in bar (this is the company I’d like to try next) or liquid forms- like Eucalan or Soak.
In the tutorial I’m using some sampler soaps from Woolin and Co, but honestly, I was a little disappointed with this purchase and wouldn’t by again. But disclaimer, only because I am super sensitive to chemicals and fragrances and strive to make all of my cosmetic/cleaning/home products as natural as possible. I wasn’t able to find exact ingredients on the website but words like “chemical free lifestyle” and “essential oils” kinda had me believing these soaps would line up with my ideals. However, when they arrived the ingredients included “fragrance” which is a guaranteed headache and rash for me. So, that’s my mini review. But if those things don’t bother you, the soap was beautiful and smelled great!
It’s also worth mentioning its probably going to take your item at least 24 hours to drive, so you’ll want to make sure it’s somewhere out of the way! And if you have small children or pets, behind a closed door! A ceiling fan or fan of some time, or an open window if weather allows, is also helpful in speeding up the drying process!
OKAY…Now lets get blocking!!
Take your item, fill up your sink with warm water (not hot, cause you don’t want to felt any of your fiber, and cold water is just…uncomfortable.) and swish a bit of your wool wash in. You don’t need it sudsy like a bubble bath, just a bit will do the trick!
Fully submerge your item, gentle pressing it under making sure the whole piece is saturated and there are no pockets of air.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I CAN TELL YOU ABOUT THIS WHOLE PROCESS IS: DO. NOT. TUG. OR. PULL. EVER. At all. Just don’t
Think of this as a spa day for your fiber art. Be really gentle. Don’t ever pick it up by one end and stretch it out. Don’t ever push or pull it. Be kind. It will thank you.
Once you are sure it’s all under the water, give it about 20-30 minutes to just have a good soak. Go make a cup of tea and relax while your hard work does its relaxing.
Drain the sink and again WITHOUT ANY PULLING, gently press it between your hands to squeeze out some of the excess water. Don’t wring or twist it! It’s in a highly impressionable state right now and anything you do to mishappen it will stick!
Once you have most of your water out, gentle, without pulling or stretching any one part, cradle it with all the love you have in your body between your two hands and flop it onto your towel. Carry it over to your mats and lay the towel out.
Lay out the piece flat (don’t worry about shaping yet) and fold/roll the towel over it in about 6″ sections. Then give it a good press (no wringing!!). I like to stomp around on top of it a little bit, just to get out as much water as I possibly can to speed up my dry time!
Now we start pinning. How you go about it will vary based on the item you are making, but start pinning it into shape! In the case of my shawl I wanted to make sure both halves of my shawl were the same length. If you’re working a garment you’ll want to make sure your sleeves or any symmetrical bits are even measurements. You can also manipulate the piece a little here to gently reach a desired length/width for optimal fit. Just start sticking your pins or blockers in every few inches!
It helps to stand up a few times and get a birds eye view (you can tell I forgot to do this in the video and some bits aren’t as straight as I thought they were!). Pin until your content with the shaping. Then you just have to wait on the drying!
I do mention in the video as well that I like to sew in all my ends AFTER blocking. The fiber community is kinda split on the right way to go about this, and I’ve heard a lot of people recommend sewing in the ends and then blocking, but personally, just knowing that the shape and size of the item will change, I don’t want any ends popping out or creating any weird pulls. Personal preference, I suppose! Handle your ends how you like!
Once it’s FULLY dry (don’t rush!) remove all your pins, sew in those ends and enjoy you’re beautiful handiwork!
I hope I’ve encouraged you to give blocking a try! I promise it’s not complicated and it’s 100% worth any bit of effort you put into it! You’re handmade pieces will shine their brightest and look their best! Happy blocking, makers!