Those of us who live in crochet world often read at the end of a pattern that the project must be blocked. Some of us ignore that direction for a long time but one day, we must face the feared blocking.
What is blocking?
Basically moisten the project, adjust it in the form we want (with T-pins, wires and normal pins) and then let it dry that way. There are three types of blocking: spray blocking, steam blocking and wet blocking. There’s also another way of permanently blocking a garment called “killing”.
The process of wet-block a project is the most extreme way because it means you have to put the garment directly in the water, completely dampening the fibers. This way of blocking is specially good with yarn like wool that is very elastic when wet and it doesn’t weaken; and at the same time, it’s not recommend with delicate fibers like silk that lose strength and don’t respond well to manipulation when wet (with these type of fibers it’s recommended to use spray blocking).
In any way, blocking shows the real face of yarn, especially lace projects like the ones we make with crochet. In other cases, like amigurumis, people almost never block it.
Materials to wet-block
The elements needed to wet-block a project are:
- Firm surface, water-resistant and that can be used with pins. I got special mats for blocking but they are the same that children mats but without the numbers.
- T Pins and normal pins. I bought T pins because they help to keep the garment still. It’s important that everything is stainless steel so it won’t stain the project.
- One or two absorbent cotton towels.
- Wires: In this case I didn’t use them because the project is round but wires are really useful for projects with straight sides like shawls, tops, etc. An alternative is to use thread (cotton thread) and stretch it so it becomes tense and can fulfill the same role as the wires.
- Container: Big enough for the project to fit comfortably.
I will use the example of the Pistachio Rug that I made last month to show you how to wet-block. Though the yarn is really thick (it was made with a 9 mm hook), the type of pattern with a lot of holes made it necessary to handle it so it could take a flatter final form. Here it is the final form, just finished:
You must fill the container and you can add a bit of soap for delicate clothing if you want it to have a nice smell or if you think the garment is dirty. You must soak the project.
First you must help the garment to absorb the water, keeping it underwater with your hands or squeezing GENTLY. You can leave it 20 minutes or the time necessary so it dampens completely. You can check it once in a while and put it underwater or squeeze it again.
You must remove the water and let it dry. You can help squeezing gently.
It’s important to NEVER twist, wring or handle the garment aggressively. You also shouldn’t leave it hanging because it can stretch and lose shape.
Next step is to spread a towel over the floor and put the garment over it. With projects that are still really wet, you can put a towel, the project and then another towel. Cotton towels are the best because they absorb a lot and it’s less likely that it loses color and ruins your project.
After that you must roll the towel bit by bit.
Until it becomes a burrito.
Now you must press GENTLY so the garment drains the water and it gets absorbed by the towel. In this case, because the yarn is so thick, pressing with my hands didn’t work so I had to press with my feet.
Now you can see the change in the project after drying it.
Now you must place the garment over the surface you chose and you must pin it using T pins and normal pins, stretching, adjusting and giving it the shape we desire. If you let it dry outside be careful of keeping it away from direct sunlight because it could damage the yarn (though in the photo it’s under the Sun, it was just for the picture) and if you let it dry inside, I suggest to use a fan or put it in a place with good ventilation.
With this rug, I liked the idea of twist it a little bit on the sides so it would look like a wheel. You can see here how easily manipulated it’s now and how you can make changes that you couldn’t before when dry.
Finally, after letting dry completely, the rug looks like this.
With a top or another garment, the process of wet-block is exactly the same; the only difference is that you include the wires when there are straight sides.
It’s important to note that the process of wet-block doesn’t have permanent results and that it must be repeated every time you wash the garment. For permanent results, you can “kill” the project.
Another thing to note is that you must weave in the yarn but it’s better not to cut until you finish blocking because everything gets stretched and the yarn could stick out. It’s better to cut when the garment has its final form.
Summary: Process of wet-blocking a crochet project
- Soak the garment,
- Dry the garment,
- Spread it over a surface,
- Adjust it with T pins, normal pins and wires,
- Let it dry completely,
- DONE! Your wet-block garment is ready.
If you want to crochet the Pistaccio Rug, you must wait for the next blog posts =)