Blocking – I hate it! And I love it! It makes it take that much longer to finish a project I have been working on but the results are worth the time. What is blocking you may ask? It is the process of relaxing the yarn to correct any areas that may have come out of shape during the crocheting process. I have been crocheting for many years but have only come across this concept in the last year or two and it is revolutionising how my finished pieces look! There are a number of ways to block a crochet piece (googling it brings up many options) but the way I have settled on doing it is as follows. I pin the item out in it’s correct shape on a foam camping mat (bought at Aldi but you can also get kids alphabet sets at Kmart that work just as well, they’re just smaller!) and then I spray, spray, spray it with a spray bottle of tap water. I press down on it to make sure the water has penetrated the piece, then I leave it for a day or two depending on the weather and voila! Remove the pins and you’re done. If the piece is really wonky or very large, I would probably put it through the washing machine first and then pin it out to dry. My husband has bought me a wonderful big blocking table (hang on, I can hear him saying something about it’s meant to be a pool table for him to use!), so I leave my blocked pieces on that to dry. It’s an ideal surface for me to use because it is high and as I am a tall person, it is easier on my back bending over to pin everything precisely. You can leave your mats on the floor for the piece to dry but with two children and two cats (who would think it was the perfect place to sleep!), I prefer to keep it up off the floor!
Once your piece is dry, you WILL notice a difference. It has a neater, more professional look with crisper edges and corners. Much as I hate doing it, the end result makes me happy. Last year, I entered a doily in a local show. When I was collecting my pieces, a lady actually asked me if I had blocked the doily because she could tell there was a difference. This was very encouraging because I had put a lot of work into blocking it and didn’t think anyone would appreciate the difference. It has encouraged me to keep going with it!
I have just completed the main section of a bag (keep your eyes open, it will be appearing on the blog soon). I had the usual talk to myself – “does it need blocking? It’s pretty much in shape, the squares are a little “bubbled out” but I suppose it doesn’t matter because it’s a bag, not clothing, etc”. However, I decided to bite the bullet and block it and I am so much happier with how it looks now. I don’t have a before picture, but here it is blocking away nicely!
So, I thought, here I am rambling on about blocking and the benefits of it and so on, but you really need to be able to see a before and after shot to get a good idea of what blocking will actually do. And, I have the perfect project to demonstrate it on for you! I have been busily working on the Neave Collection Blanket https://www.facebook.com/groups/621056114767998/?ref=bookmarks. The centre square begins with a series of front and back post stitches and then evens out into a lot of half double crochets and single crochets. Due to the front and back posts, it tends to buckle. Although it has flattened out a little as I’ve gone on, it is still pretty wavy. I have been holding my breath because a lot of people have had the same problem, and it has been corrected with a block. So, I am up to the part of the pattern where it is suggested that I block the piece, so block it I have and it has made a huge difference.It’s not perfect by any means but it sits flat now and gives me hope that as I continue to crochet around it, it will correct itself even more. I am so excited to finish it and gift it to my friend!
So, now you have read about the benefits of blocking, go and give it a try. You can buy all sorts of fancy wooden blocking boards (I’d love to get some one day!) and pins, you can make your own wooden ones, or you can use foam boards like me but I guarantee you, it will make a huge difference to the finished presentation of your crochet!