Ask any good craftsperson about finishing, and you will hear the same thing: finishing takes longer than you think it should, but finishing must be done, and must be done well. It doesn’t matter whether you’re sewing a dress, crocheting a sweater, or building a house.
That brings us to blocking, an essential part of finishing your work. Blocking is best practice. All the pros block their work. A reader, writing about crocheted flowers, said “no worries, you can block it into shape!” But no, blocking is not a way to alter the shape of your crochet or to force it into a shape it wasn’t meant to be.
Blocking allows your stitches to assume their intended shape; it relaxes and sets the yarn so the stitches will retain their intended shape.
The stitches of crochet and knitting tend to pull in one direction or another, so they often cause your work to curl. My little Perspective Daisies (from Crochet Garden) are so curly they look like nine-legged spiders. In the process of making Crochet Charm Lace, the flowers will be pinned to a fabric template. Unless I want to place a pin in each petal to hold it flat as I try to arrange the motifs and fit them together (nightmare!), the flowers need to be blocked.
Here’s how to block small pieces, like flowers:
You will need
- A place to lay out your work to dry and maybe to pin
- Water, either from the tap or in a spray mister
- Pins (possibly)
- Steam iron
- Clean press cloth (optional)
- Moisten crocheted piece. You can spray the piece with a mister, or hold a handful of flowers under the tap, then squeeze out excess water.
- Unfurl and stretch out all the bits that are meant to be flat. I did this for each and every daisy petal. That took some time.
- If a piece still curls stubbornly, pin it flat.
- You may stop here and simply let the items dry, especially if your yarn will not take well to steam.
- If you are going to steam your pieces, consider turning them face-down. This protects the public side of your piece in case the unthinkable happens (you know, scorching).
- You may wish to use a press cloth to protect your pieces. Moisten and wring out a clean tea towel or cloth diaper. Lay it over the crocheted piece.
- Bearing the weight of the steam iron in your hand, hold the iron over the pieces and let the steam penetrate the stitches. (The iron will release steam from the press cloth, too.)
- Let the pieces dry, remove pins if necessary.
For a thorough discussion of blocking and its various uses, read Lily Chin’s Couture Crochet Workshop.