17 March 2012

Tutorial: Blocking Acrylic Yarn

I work with Acrylic yarn a lot.  And for some reason, I feel the need to justify this to you.  I'll just say that Acrylic lends itself well to the type of projects I tend to make (e.g. 8-bit game crochet, miscellaneous items that need to be durable, etc.).  Furthermore, I rarely ever make any sort of garment, thereby making it not economically nor practically favorable to work with cellulose or natural fibers.  Lastly, there's that small part of my 12-year-old self that sort of loves the squeaky, grossly-colored variegated yarns of mismatched and puke-styled purples and greens and says I couldn't ever possibly let go of acrylic yarns.

I've almost finished a knitting project made entirely of acrylic yarn.  Honestly, I make many things without finishing them properly and I normally regret not putting in that little bit of extra time to make it look more professional.  This time, I'm doing it right; I'm finishing my knitted project off by blocking each individual square, and I am sharing the tutorial with you.

Everyone has a slightly different method they prefer for blocking yarn.  In fact, some people will argue with you that blocking acrylic yarn should NEVER be done.  But, I believe in lightly blocking acrylic.  Keep in mind that your blocking will be permanent.  I've tried using steam before, and I find that with the yarn I use (most often Red Heart, and Loops & Threads Impeccable), this ends up making the yarn really flat, shiny, and scratchy.  Also, you can use this method for blocking other types of materials too!


Here is my method for how to Block Acrylic Yarn:




Make your own Blocking Materials:


     Materials: Foam core board, ruler, craft knife, thin batting, scissors, tape.     

1.    Measure the foam board to the size you'd like your finished pieces to be. My squares were each to be 10"x10".
2.    Cut the piece out of the foam board.
3.    Lay the board atop a thin layer of batting, and cut the batting leaving a couple of inches overhanging on all sides.
4.    Fold a side of the batting over the board and tape it down.
5.    Fold and tape the remaining sides of batting over the board, keeping the batting taut as you go.
6.    The front of the blocking board is the side completely covered in batting.




Blocking Acrylic Yarn:


     Materials:  Blocking square, T-pins, Spray Bottle with water, material to block. 

1.    Lay the material to be blocked onto the blocking board face-up.
2.    Start by pinning the piece of material on all corners, stretching it out evenly.  T-pins are my favorite to use for this.
3.    Now pin the centers of each side.
4.    Continue placing pins on all of the sides, interspersing them between the existing pins until the piece appears as desired. (I used 32 pins total.)
5.    Spray the piece lightly with water until semi-damp.
6.    Blot the material with a dry rag to remove some of the water.  Then, wait until dry and remove the pins.  Ta-da!



Before and After

Here are all of the before and after pictures so you can see beneficial the blocking was:

So, the next time you're working on a project and think that it'll be too difficult to block it, just try this method!  It's fast, works well, and doesn't leave your project feeling scratchy or looking gross.

Let me know if you've tried this or you have any other favorite methods for blocking!

46 comments:

  1. thanks for sharing !!!
    your beautiful fabric collections

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  2. great, thanks very much!! I have about 20 large squares waiting to be blocked, but I've been putting it off, because I wasn't sure how to do it! I'm off to buy some foam...

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    1. Yay! So glad to hear it. Good luck with your project!

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    2. Simply lovely!

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  3. Thanks for sharing. This is awesome and it looks so easy. Found you via pinterest

    Christine @ projectsaroundthehouse.blogspot.com

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  4. Er, do you have any idea where to get thin batting? I barely know what it is haha!

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    1. I purchased my thin batting at Hobby Lobby, but you should be able to find some near the fabric section of any craft store that sells some quilting supplies. It's normally used to fluff up quilts and such.

      Here is a link for an example of batting: http://www.onlinefabricstore.net/quilting/quilt-batting/polyester-quilt-batting/buffalo-batt-light-weight-polyester-quilt-batting-.htm

      Hope this helps-- thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Do you have a method for blocking 3-D items? I have always wanted to give my hats and booties a more finished look, but haven't figured out a good way. I'm wondering if there is a way to modify your technique to work.

    www.facebook.com/MEMamaCreations

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    1. I don't often block 3-D items, mostly out of pure excitement to wear them and not completely finish them. I've heard that you can block hats by slipping them an upside-down bowl, or placing it over a water balloon filled to an appropriate size and placed in a bowl for support. Here is a helpful link for blocking hats: http://community.knitpicks.com/notes/Blocking_-_Hats.

      As far as blocking booties--I would probably cut a few templates of the foot and ankle size out of foam, and then stack 3 or 4 together with glue to form a 3-D pattern.

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  6. I had no idea that you could block acrylic using this method. Thank you for sharing!

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  7. You shouldn't feel ashamed about using acrylic yarn. There are a lot of great acrylic yarns out there and they are, as you say, durable and washable. Plus they don't make you itch!

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  8. Forgive my ignorance, but how does it wear with washing? Does it retain its shape?

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    1. Luckily I've been so lazy that I haven't put my blocks together yet, so I went ahead and threw one of each of them into the washer/dryer to check. The blocks retained their shape just fine for me; no more blocking was needed for my purposes. This is just my experience though. Thanks for asking!

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  9. I have a really stupid question. Please go easy on me. Why do you need to block?

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    Replies
    1. Blocking can do a lot of different things for your knitting. Blocking can help shape your piece to a desired figure, it can help even out the natural unevenness that occurs due to variations in tension from your knitting. Blocking can help flatten out a work of knitting that is lumpy or somehow misshapen. It is a form of finishing often done on knitted or crocheted work to improve the overall look of the project.

      Hope this helps!

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  10. jessica,
    i'm so happy to have found your blog. this article contains very useful information that i want to share with the readers of my blog. i've featured your article on my blog in an article that will publish on november 3, 2012.
    jd in st louis
    http://crochet.craftgossip.com

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    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed the article. I sincerely appreciate the feature!

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  11. As I'm new to the whole knitting/crochet world. This is probably the reason that my dish cloths that were once a good size have now shrunk to a very small (not able to fold) size. I need to block the rest, that I haven't used or gifted. Thanks so much for the lesson in blocking. It's truly opened my eyes!!!

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  12. Do you have to re-block each time you wash something?

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    Replies
    1. Not from my experience. Often, throwing your knitting or crocheted pieces in the washer also helps even out stitching and issues from tension.

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  13. Awesome, thanks for sharing! I have an 8-ft scarf I want to block, so I think I'll try this method. :)

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  14. thanks! i'll have to do that. i just started crocheting and have used some acrylic yarn, but i've never blocked any type of yarn before. the pictures help :)

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  15. Do you use warm or cold water

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  16. I saw the link on Craft Gossip. Think, next time I will try this one. Usually I steam the piece with steam iron,but making sure the iron is not touching the crochet. I keep the iron just above the crochet and let the steam work on it. Then pin the damp piece to the ironing board to the shape and let dry. The wet blocking you suggested makes more sense. I think, I saw the batting at Walmart. Another expense to my hobby, but i think, my scarves will look more better with this method.

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  17. I am so glad I found your post! I'm almost done knitting a Log Cabin Blanket, and the squares are a good size, but they do need that finishing look. I use acrylic yarn because it's cheaper haha!, but the tutorial for the blanket calls for natural fibers and steaming for blocking. It sounded like a lot of work so I am very excited to find an easier alternative. Now after all of that, what are the patterns you used on your pieces in this tutorial? I love the green and the blue square!

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  18. Thanks so much for the tip, I like acrylic for the same reasons as you do ;) besides I am not wasting my time knitting/crocheting for my friends who do not know the difference and have them ruin a good wool in the washer...I will def give it a world... thanks again

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  19. That is soooo awesome!!!
    One question - you say above that this is permanent, so if I were to wash the piece the blocking will stay? Or would I have to block it again?
    Thank soo much!!!

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    1. Sorry, I guess I should have read through the other comments - no need to reply to my comment, I see where you have replied to others on this question.
      Thank you!!!

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  20. Quick question...I am blocking acrylic for the first time using this method...and I find that the squares still shrink a little...is this normal?

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  21. OMG thanks to someone on the Knitting Help forum for showing me this page, I now have some help in blocking Acrylic yarn! Thanks!

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  22. This is fantastic! Thank you so much, acrylic yarn is pretty well all I work with. Like you, mostly Red Heart. I also tend to work in stockinette stitch a lot so my pieces are forever curling on the ends, this should fix that! Thanks!!

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  23. This is fantastic! Thank you so much, acrylic yarn is pretty well all I work with. Like you, mostly Red Heart. I also tend to work in stockinette stitch a lot so my pieces are forever curling on the ends, this should fix that! Thanks!!

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  24. Why do you have to use the batting? Can't I just pin it directly into the foam board? This may sound stupid, but I am just wondering!

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  25. Ok so I tried this just using the foam board and it works just fine! Thanks so much for this, I am now really excited about the project I am working on! (I know I am bad I bought more yarn instead of the batting). Can you ever have enough yarn!?!

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  27. Thanks for the tutorial! I wondered about washing and noticed the answer in another comment. I use synthetic yarn for a lot of projects. I hate to give a mile long list of washing instructions with a gift. People can be so snobbish about yarn. Who cares as long as the look and feel is what you want?

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  30. Thank you so, so much for this! I just finished a triangle shawl/scarf in acrylic and it needs to be blocked desperately, and I found the link to this tutorial. Now to go block the shawl...

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  31. Sounds so easy and money saving! Can you make a foam block of any size to form a block without shrinking?

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  32. Sounds so easy and money saving! Can you make a foam block of any size to form a block without shrinking?

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  33. Can you go about the method you've described with a much larger acrylic item? (A poncho to be exact.)

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  34. I am sold on this method! Just used it on a cowl and it is so much improved. My husband said it looks like it came from a store...not sure that's a compliment ;-)

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