Day 20: Let the blocking begin

Blocking a project is one of the final steps in completing a crochet or knitting project.

While a case can be made that it is not really necessary to block acrylic afghans, blocking is one of those finishing touches that enhances just about every project. There are any number of ways to block an item, and the best method will be determined by the size of the item made and the characteristics of the yarn or thread used to make it.

For projects made from acrylic yarn, I find that a method I call “full immersion blocking” produces the best results. Should you want to soften the fiber, you can add a cup or so of vinegar. When all is said and done, even the most unruly acrylic will relax and have improved drape.

However, in the case of my 2010 North Carolina State Fair project, I wanted to preserve the textural features that are present, and so I used plain water.

One advantage to having an outdoor office like mine is that it is easy to do a “full immersion blocking” without worrying that you will soak the carpet or create a hazardously slippery floor in your house.

And while it’s okay to be thrifty with your materials, there is no reason to be stingy with your finishing processes once you have put your time into a project.

For that reason, I am piecing the afghan together in three strips so that I can block two strips that are 31 x 10 squares and one strip that is 31 x 11 squares, then finish the joining rather than attempting to block the afghan when it is 31 x 31 squares in size.

Here is a photo of the first ten rows before blocking:

crochet blanket made of crochet squares
The first 10 rows before blocking

and here is a detail of the first 10 rows before blocking:

crochet blanket made of crochet squares
Detail of the first 10 rows before blocking

When blocking acrylic, the method I think gets the best results is to fully immerse the piece being blocked in water, let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, and then roll out the excess water with towels.

To that end, I gathered the following supplies:

crochet blanket made of crochet squares
A tub of water, a pile of towels, and a crochet project in need of blocking

and then placed the piece to be blocked in the tub of water:

blocking crochet
Full immersion blocking

After I was sure that every fiber of the piece was soaked, I dumped out what little water had not been absorbed, and squeezed out as much of the water as I could without wringing the fabric, and then I set it out on some towels to better get the water out:

crochet blanket made of crochet squares
My soaking wet crochet project on formerly dry towels

Two more towels later, this is the result I got:

crochet blanket made of crochet squares
The first 10 rows of my 2010 state fair crochet project after blocking

crochet blanket made of crochet squares
A detail of the first 10 rows of my 2010 state fair crochet project after blocking

I don’t know that the difference post blocking is visible in the photos I have posted, but in person, the difference is easy to see and blocking is clearly worth the effort.

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