How to Block: Instructions for Spray Blocking Crochet Squares

Apr 14, 2007

I've fielded lots of questions about blocking crochet and knitting recently, and I thought a wee tutorial might be in order. So I spent this afternoon up in the mountains recovering from the last few months, and in so doing I blocked some squares. Here's the long and short of it; click any photo for more information, or check out the full photo tutorial on Flickr (there are about twice as many photos there*).

Crochet blocking is the process of setting your fiber pieces with some form of water. You can spray block (demonstrated here), wet block (using a similar technique but starting by submerging your pieces in water until they're saturated), or steam block (using a steamer or a steam iron after you pin the dry pieces). Blocking almost always works magic on natural fibers and blends. Results are less predictable with synthetics. There are several benefits to blocking:

  • Blocking sets the shape of your pieces (e.g., you can even out edges or help correct unwanted curling).
  • Blocking relaxes and evens out your stitches.
  • Blocking can dramatically improve the drape of your fabric.
  • You can slightly adjust the finished size of your fabric by blocking it. (You can block it to be bigger, but not to be smaller.)

Gather the following before you begin:

  • Completed pieces of crochet or knitting
  • A flat surface (like a blocking board [used here], bed, carpet, or stack of towels)
  • Rustproof pins
  • Spray bottle filled with tepid water

Stacks of Squares

1. Note the finished dimensions of the squares (if you're blocking a garment, use the measurements in the schematic drawing as a guide; from here on I'm only going to refer to squares). In this example I'm blocking both standard 7-round granny squares (pictured on the right) and several different-size squares for my Babette Blanket. The standard grannies need to be 7.5" square, and the largest-to-smallest Babette squares need to be 15", 5", and 2.5" square, respectively.

2. Leaving breathing room between them, lay your squares out on a flat surface. In this example I'm using a blocking board**, which is already (after this one use) my new best friend. You could also use a mattress (I would remove blankets first), a clean carpet, or a stack of towels. The bonus of using a blocking board is the super handy grid printed on the fabric lining (also, the lining wicks moisture to speed drying). You could make yourself a blocking board using foam board and fabric, too.

Lay Out Your Pieces

[Bonus photos of Babette squares laid out, and of the tremendous capacity of the blocking board.]

3. Grab some pins (but not really; you'd stick yourself). Pin the first corner of the square; any corner will do. If you're using a grid, make sure to position the square on the grid so that it's easy to measure in both directions so you can determine where to pin the other corners.

Pin the First Corner

4. Pin the corner diagonally opposed to the first corner. Continue to pin the remaining two corners. Measure to make sure the pins are equidistant from each other along the edges. In this example, each edge is now 7.5" across. I had to stretch the edges slightly to achieve this.

Pin the Other Corners

5. Notice in the previous photo that pinning the corners caused the edges to curve. Correct this by pinning the center of each edge to the proper dimension. Continue pinning until the edges are flat and square.

Finish Pinning

6. Spray the pieces evenly and thoroughly with tepid water. (This is why you should use rustproof pins.)

Spray the Pieces

7. Leave the pieces pinned until they're completely dry. Depending on your climate and the time of day, you might have to leave them overnight. Here are the Babette squares just after spraying:

Leave To Dry

8. Once dry, remove the pins and enjoy your work. 

 

* There are 19 photos in the Flickr set. I took 173 during the shoot.
** I got my board at Three Bags Full in Vancouver, BC. Lots of local yarn stores carry them, as do some online stores.


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Comments

Anonymous wrote
on Apr 15, 2007 7:38 AM

Where did you get your blocking board??????????? Thanks for all of the helpful advice.

emmajane wrote
on Apr 16, 2007 7:14 AM

I would dump me for a blocking board too. Which, I might add, looks huge and amazing!!

Ariella wrote
on Apr 22, 2007 12:11 AM
I am a relatively amateur crocheter (from Vancouver, I might add!) and I recently crocheted a blanket for my friends' baby. The center of the blanket is one big square of single-crochet stitch, and then I did a somewhat elaborate border with double-crochet and popcorn stitching. Even though there are the same amount of stitches, the border wrinkles. I am hoping that blocking might help, but I'm not sure it will. Do you have any ideas? (I've also never blocked before, so I'm not sure which method, if any, would be best)

thanks a million!

on Apr 22, 2007 10:07 AM

Hi Ariella -- Several factors can make your edges ruffle. The gist, though, is that there's too much fabric on the border as compared to the edges of the centre. Here are things you might want to check out:

* It's possible that you made the double crochets looser than the single crochets, so even though you have the same number of stitches, the doubles take up too much space and therefore ruffle. New crocheters often crochet very tightly, so it's even possible that as you progressed making the blanket that your single crochets loosened up a bit, and that by the time you got to the border your stitches were looser enough to cause the ruffling.

* Popcorns also take up a lot of space. It could be that you need to give them more room to breathe by skipping an additional stitch before or after each one.

* It's also possible that the inherent drape of the taller, heavier stitches on the border, as compared to the denser single crochet centre, would require you to work slightly *fewer* stitches for the border than for each side of the centre.

If you do try to block (just don't weave in your ends first, so if it doesn't work you could still rip out the border and rework it), try blocking only the single crochet center to try to stretch it out a bit to match the longer edges of the border.

Good luck!

Kim

Belém wrote
on Apr 24, 2007 6:07 PM

Very good tutorial. I'm making squares of crochet for a blanket and I will try your blocking technic

Anonymous wrote
on Apr 27, 2007 11:49 PM

I just completed crocheting a vest out of size 5 100% cotton thread. How would I block this on a board? Wouldn't I need a shirt-form to block the front and back at the same time?

Confused in Texas

on Apr 28, 2007 10:54 AM

You can block it flat the same way I show blocking the squares, unless there is gathered shaping that prevents either the front or back of the vest from laying flat. If it lays flat, though, you can pin the whole thing out to the proper dimensions, spray it, and let it dry. You could block it to a dress form, but cotton has a tendency to drag down from gravity - especially when wet.

Kelly wrote
on May 4, 2007 10:03 PM

Does this work on all kinds of yarn, or is only the all natural fibers? I hope that this isn't a silly a question, but I'm new to crocheting and am just learning about everything and the differences between yarns and stitches and such. :)

Thanks so much for this great tutorial!

on May 6, 2007 12:57 PM

Hi Kelly - It works always on natural fibers, and less predictably with synthetics and blends. It's all about the experimentation. :) Have fun!

Kari wrote
on May 7, 2007 9:58 AM

Been crocheting for some years but finally decided to get around to actually blocking my items. What keeps the project from loosing shape after blocking? I mean, you wash it and won't it return to the shape it ended up when I first finished it?

on May 7, 2007 10:19 AM

Hi Kari - You have to reblock items after washing them again. This is often why garment labels instruct you to reshape a sweater and dry it on a flat surface. As for the resilience of the blocked shape after blocking, it depends on the fiber, the tension of the stitches, and the stitch pattern. Cotton blocks beautifully, but due to its inelasticity and its weight, with wear it tends to fall victim to gravity; you have to wash and block it back into shape fairly regularly. Animal fibers, on the other hand, really do retain their blocked shape, relatively speaking. The blocking sets the fibers in place - it's the closest thing to magic in crochet and knitting. But yes, after washing, items do need to be reblocked.

Kari wrote
on May 7, 2007 10:53 AM

Thank you for your detailed response. I am often hesitant to "move forward" with my crocheting skills because I feel intimidated by certain terms and processes like this. I so appreciate your help!

tatamata wrote
on Jul 27, 2007 5:48 AM

Thanks for such good explanation of blocking crocheted squares. Well done.

glassjules wrote
on Aug 17, 2008 8:58 AM

Ok, so this is a really late comment/question ---from an impatient person with limited grid space to block and a lot of squares to block.....is there any way to speed this up with acrylic fibers? I was considering using a blow dryer on cool? Is there something magical about letting it dry naturally, or could you use the cool button on your blow dryer?? Curious. Thanks in advance!!

lizzibeff wrote
on Aug 4, 2009 3:57 AM

Hi, i recently knitted some seamless baby slippers in 100% organic cotton yarn, and i'd like to block them to get all the stitches looking even.

Since booties are obviously not a lay flat item, i was wondering how to block them? I was thinking of dipping in lukewarm water and stuffing into shape with polythene bags? Or stuffing and then spraying. I don't want to stretch them so i obviously wouldn't overstuff.

Do you think this would work? I'm getting quite frustrated! I can't find anything on the internet anywhere.

Hope you can help - Liz

makimmi wrote
on Jul 31, 2010 2:41 PM

Thanks for the great tutorial. I am excited about seeing the outcome of my first "blocked" granny square afghan.

brandilael wrote
on Jul 5, 2011 9:54 AM

Hi how would you block something that isnt flat like a hat brim?

thanks

on Aug 29, 2011 5:46 PM

A couple of weeks ago I picked up my box of scrap yarn and started crocheting granny squares again. "Again

on Aug 20, 2012 9:07 PM

A couple of weeks ago I picked up my box of scrap yarn and started crocheting granny squares again. "Again

slipknott wrote
on Nov 9, 2012 10:49 PM

Think i might give this a go. I have about 200 square so it might take a while but it sounds like a great idea. Thanks

raviprakash wrote
on May 30, 2013 7:57 AM

Can't wait to purchase the magazine and get started on all of the projects. I love the Seafoam Shawl in Classic Elite Chesapeake. It lays so perfect for this pattern. My Granddaughters will love the bracelets and headband! Thank you for the great patterns! www.delhiwebsitedesigningcompany.com

moody_blue wrote
on Aug 15, 2013 7:35 PM

I'm new to the crochet world & am learning to make a granny square for later use as a base for a tote bag, is blocking a must for this?

Bev G. wrote
on Jan 21, 2014 10:39 AM

I have several of these wonderful folding cutting boards. I put a length of clear vinyl over the board that I purchased at the fabric store for blocking to protect the board from moisture. It works great and I can see all the markings. I used them originally for shawls and other things, but am now starting my first granny square project. I love the fact you do not have to unfold the whole board to use it and it stores flat until I need it again. Thanks for the great tutorial.