For Designers,  For Makers

How and When to Block Your Crocheted Items

by Tanya Johnson of The Cozy Knot

Tanya Johnson is a 30-something Creative, identical twin, Minnesota to Texas transplant (thanks to falling in love with her southern bearded worship pastor hubby), self-taught crocheter, and founder of The Cozy Knot. She enjoys various creative outlets – drawing, painting, playing piano, and website/marketing/branding design – but crochet is what really stole her heart in 2015. She designs everyday crochet patterns for the body and home in hopes to help others slow down and get lost in the joy-filled, calming, and meditative process of this craft. Follow Tanya’s creative journey at The Cozy Knot on Instagram here.

Blocking is the final step in our craft and it often gets overlooked (I avoided it for quite a while, myself). It sometimes seems unimportant and/or tedious and can easily get swept under the rug; however, I promise you, the difference between a blocked and unblocked project is totally worth the extra time and effort for a couple of reasons:

  1. You’ll stop wondering why your projects always come out crooked | We cannot expect 100% consistency 100% of the time. We are flawed humans making handmade items. Imperfection, to an extent, is part of what makes handmade items so beautiful, appreciated, and well-loved. And especially when we’re working on large projects (like a blanket) that take extended periods of time, our tension might not always be consistent throughout the whole piece, causing variances in our final project. Blocking is a way to shape and stretch your yarn to smooth out some of the inconsistencies your project has developed.

  2. Nobody likes a rigid final project | Have you ever tried on or used a project you made just to be really disappointed by the drape or lack of softness or shape? I know I have – I even frogged it! Had I considered taking the time to block it, I more than likely would have kept it and still be enjoying it. There are just some yarns (ahem…economy yarn) and sometimes some yarns combined with certain stitches that just result in a stiff looking and feeling piece. And I’ll shamefully admit, sometimes when I’m going through my Instagram feed or I’m browsing Etsy, I can totally tell who has blocked their wearable projects and who hasn’t. In my humble opinion, a rigid final project just sucks all the coziness out of it. A blocked project will lay so much better and look so much softer than one that hasn’t been blocked. So in a nutshell, blocking = drape + softness + shape + a more professional (and cozy!) looking final result (that people/customers will notice!).

Now that we’ve covered why to block, let’s talk about how to block. There are 5 main methods of blocking (in my opinion). One of them might even come as a surprise to you! Let’s dive in!

Before we go into the specific methods, it’s first really important to note the type of yarn you’re using. Some yarns and fibres lend themselves better to a particular blocking method. You can tell a lot by the washing instructions on your yarn label what method will work best for your final project.

  1. Soaking | Soaking is when you fully submerge your item. I personally like to add a little detergent to the water and give it a “bath.” You honestly don’t need to let it soak very long. I just submerge mine until the fabric is fully wet, move it around in the water a bit, rinse it, and gently squeeze (do not wring or twist) out the water. Then, lay it out over a towel, roll it up in the towel to remove any additional unnecessary water, arrange it on your blocking mats, pin it in place to your desired position, and let dry completely. I also recommend a fan for this method to keep the air in the room circulating and speed the drying time slightly. This method definitely takes the most time, but can be very satisfying when it’s done. I used this method when completing my Homebody Cardi, which was made from a cotton/acrylic blend.

When it’s best to use this method:

    • when working with natural or natural blend fibres
    • when your project needs heavier levels of softening
    • when your project needs a lot of shaping/stretching
  1. Misting | This is similar to soaking, but is a “drier” method. You simply don’t get your item as wet. You lay out your item, lightly mist it with a spray bottle of water (no soap), shape it how you want it, pin it in place, and let it dry completely.

When it’s best to use this method:

  • when using natural or natural blend fibres
  • when your project needs lighter levels of softening
  • when your project needs less shaping/stretching
  1. Misting + Hair Dryer | This method involves both light moisture + heat! Lay your project out and, working in sections, spritz your project with water, then grab your hair dryer and apply heat while you shape your project with your fingers. Then, if desired or needed, pin in place and let dry completely.

When it’s best to use this method:

  • when using natural, natural blend, or synthetic fibres
  • when your project needs light-heavy levels of softening (varies depending on how much moisture + how much heat you apply)
  • when your project needs light-heavier levels of shaping/stretching (again, varies depending on how much moisture + how much heat you apply) 
  1. Steaming | This is similar to misting, but again, is a “drier” method. For this method you’ll need a fabric steamer or iron. Set your iron on the steam setting, lay your project out, steam it section by section while shaping it with your fingers (be careful not to burn yourself). You’ll experience a noticeable, soft difference in how the yarn feels as you work through the sections. For this method, it’s very important to note not to touch the iron to your project, as some fibres can get ruined or melt. You only want to use the steam from your iron to warm and slightly dampen the fabric. Keep your iron plate 1-3 inches away from the project depending on the heat level setting. 
Reducing and creating straight seams - crochet in the round

When it’s best to use this method:

  • when using natural, natural blend, or synthetic fibres
  • when your project needs heavier levels of softening (the heat is key here)
  • when your project needs light-medium levels of shaping/stretching
  1. Clothes Dryer | This is the method that might surprise you. It is also the fastest and most dry method for blocking your projects, as it involves no moisture whatsoever. Simply pop your project in the dryer for 5-10 minutes, remove, shape, and let cool. There is often no pinning required for this. I use this method a lot for acrylic or economy yarn projects like the Vandyke Poncho and any hats I make.

When best to use this method:

  • when using synthetic fibres
  • when your project needs heavier levels of softening
  • When your project needs lighter levels of shaping/stretching

There you have it! Now, keep in mind (despite what I said at the beginning of this blog) that not all projects need to be blocked. While I think many can benefit from it, not all of them need it. Additionally, it comes down to personal preference, as well. However, I hope this blog was helpful to you if you’re new to crocheting or knitting, or you’re looking to experiment with different methods of blocking for your projects.

I’d love to see your before and after photos! Drop me a line on my Facebook Page or hashtag me in your photos on Instagram #thecozyknot to share!

Stay cozy,

Tanya xoxo