Blocking large crochet projects can be a royal pain. Even when you know how to block, saving enough floor space and finding enough mats can be a challenge. Luckily I've got a few tips for you to help you put those finishing touches in your larger pieces as well!
What is blocking?
First, a little about blocking: blocking is something you do at the end of a project, after you've woven your ends in. It involves making the fibres wet or damp and then pinning them on a board to let your project dry up in its final shape. This causes the stitches to look much neater, edges to look much more straight, and your work to feel much softer.
I've written an extensive blog post about blocking. If you're interested in the theory behind it and all the general do's and don'ts, give it a read! 👇
Which blocking method do I use?
Generally speaking, there are three types of blocking:
- Wet blocking
- Spray blocking
- Steam blocking
The different methods are all explained in the post I linked above. In short, I recommend method 2, Spray blocking for large projects.
Method 1 Wet blocking (dunking your project in a basin and soaking it before pinning) can be difficult as all the water weight makes a large project very heavy and bulky. That causes your crochet or knitwork to stretch out once you pick it up after soaking and makes it much more difficult to pin it in place neatly.
Method 3 (Steam blocking) is not only an advanced method but is also cumbersome as you only steam small portions of your project each time. It takes ages on a large project, and you need to be very careful! Spray blocking is easier on the arms and yields the same results.
Blocking a large crochet blanket
In theory, the process of blocking is quite easy. Clear some floor space, pin your project to blocking boards or puzzle mats, and mist it with a spray bottle until damp. Let it air dry and unpin - that's it. Unfamiliar with the technique? Read my full tutorial for spray blocking.
With large projects, the issue usually isn't in the technique. Rather, it's having enough floor space, mats and pins to let it dry. Luckily, I've got a few tips to help you when space or materials are an issue!
Tip 1: Block in sections
When you don't have the floor space to lay your project flat, you can block your project in parts. You can, for example, block the first half of your blanket and, when that's finished, the second half.
Pin up the first half, cover the unpinned half of your blanket with another blanket or cloth and spray the pinned section with water. Once it has airdried, repeat for the second section. It's not ideal, but it works wonders in a pinch!
Tip 2: Only use mats for the edges
Who wants to stack up on (expensive) blocking mats? When you can't borrow them from a friendly neighbourhood crafter, there are other ways to reduce the number of blocking mats you need.
My go-to trick is to only place mats under a project's edges. Let's say you block a 150 x 180cm (60 x 70in) blanket. Using the standard 30cm (12in) blocking mats, you'd need around 5 x 8 = 40 blocking mats to cover the complete surface area.
When you use mats for the edges only, you need just 22 mats. Those mats don't have to fit together either, so you can mix and match different sets. The pins and tension in your blanket will keep them in place.
This is a snapshot of my Sampler blanket. I mixed different sets of blocking mats and puzzle mats. You can put a tarp or cloth beneath your project to prevent the dampness from coming onto your floor. I didn't bother with it, as it evaporates pretty quickly anyway.
Tip 3: Pin efficiently
When you need to pin a big blanket, you want a better solution than individual T-pins because you'll need a gazillion. This is where both blocking wires and knit blockers come in handy. These tools are made to block large sections easily.
I've used three sets of knit blockers for the blanket above. It's not cheap, but it's a one-off purchase, and they come in handy with each project!
What not to do when blocking large projects
There are also a few things you want to avoid when blocking larger pieces, when it can be helped:
- Hang it from a clothesline. The waterweight combined with the project weight will result in sagging and stretching in the corners or around the clothesline. There's a reason every handmade item comes with instructions to dry flat!
- Soaking it through and through. A damp spray is enough. Soaking it completely will only take longer to dry and will add no other benefits.
- Pinning it on a mattress. Honestly, it will do if you really can't free up the floor space. But a mattress is quite often not firm enough to pin your project neatly. You also don't want to risk missing any pins, especially if you sleep in the same bed!
I hope these tips give you the confidence to block your next large project. If you have more suggestions or questions, pop them in the comments!