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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Blocking small items

Hello!

So, what do you think when I say "blocking"? The first time I had heard it was by my friend Ellie of Craft House Magic. She had made one of her first (of many fabulous) shawls and was saying how she was blocking it and was terrified how it was going to turn out. I just nodded and said yes, "its a worry isn't it" and then thought "what on earth is blocking?!?"......then I did some research.....

Turns out that 'blocking' is one of the most important steps of any knitting or crochet project to make your items look 'nice like in the picture'. So, I have been committing the ultimate woolly crimes.....I still to this day have never checked my gauge, nor done a swatch (to redeem myself I rarely make anything that actually has to fit).......but I had actually been blocking my work, just didn't know the correct terminology, and had been using an unorthodox method.

Joanne of Not So Granny recently wrote a fantastic, very informative, and very comprehensive post about how to block your work with step by step instructions and pictures. It must have been a lot of work so thank you! It will be a constant referral point for me as I start to make products that require blocking. Joanne writes about wet blocking by giving your item a good soaking. Lucy of Attic 24 also posted about 'steam blocking' whereby small items, such as bunting, are blocked by hovering a steam iron over your work which is firstly pinned into position. My method is a mix of the two, and I will go through it now.....

I must say that my method is only suitable for small items, such as bunting or for individual pieces of a toy before sewing together (I always find it is much easier to sew toys together once they are blocked as it is way easier to match stitches up and make the finished item look neater).

This is my method for bunting for example, or anything that could do with being a bit more sturdy. I wouldn't use this for a toy as it would loose some of its cuddliness.

So.....see these triangles of crochet fabulousness here.....sorry....I mean strange shapes all curled up at the corners.....these are my bunting triangle pre-blocking (I will write up the pattern for these soon).

Before:




The kit:





  • Damp t-towel (I put it under the tap and wring it out well)
  • An iron (any old iron- mine doesn't even steam anymore)
  • Pins
  • and the magic ingredient- SPRAY STARCH (only a quid in the laundry aisle of any supermarket)

The process:
  1. Place item front side down onto ironing board
  2. Spray liberally with spray starch
  3. Make sure it is flat and cover with damp t-towel
  4. With iron on a LOW SETTING (very important!) press firmly onto work through the t-towel



It is very important that you don't hold the iron down very long. 5 secs at a time max, otherwise you risk squashing/melting your work, especially if you are using acrylic. Keep on pressing until your work stays flat when you remove the t-towel, but please please please not long enough to burn it.

5. Turn work over so that the right side is facing up
6. Spray the front liberally with starch
7. Pin into place stretching out the corners. I just do this straight into the ironing board foam.
8. Leave to dry overnight
9. VoilĂ ! Lovely flat, slightly stiffened, triangles ready to be strung into bunting!

p.s When I am blocking component parts of a stuffed toy for example I just iron lightly on reverse through a damp t-towel. The pieces are then ok to be used straight away!





After:





See the difference yeah? The advantages of blocking are really obvious.....so no excuses ey!

I hope this is useful for someone. Anyone else have any tips on blocking?

Cheerio for now

SS xx

P.p.s I think I have dragged myself out of the 'procrastination zone'- a yummy dinner is on and I got not one, but two dresses from the charity shops this afternoon.......and I finally completed this blog post  :-)




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