Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do I really have to block my work?

Until about 10 years ago, when I first learned how to knit (shhhh; don't tell anyone), I never blocked anything.  If something didn't turn out quite the way I expected, I just assumed the fault was mine.  Mostly, I made afghans and baby blankets anyway, so I felt that blocking wasn't critical.

Once I learned to needlepoint and to knit, I realized that the benefits of blocking are universal.  Not everything needs to be blocked.  But in general - even if it doesn't seem necessary, I block.  Block first, ask questions later.  Recently, I've been working on designing some unique motifs of my very own.  

I've already posted pictures of my first three, but I confess I wasn't very happy with the way they turned out.  Why, I wondered, do the motifs in books and on other websites look so wonderful, when these look so sloppy?  Am I really just not a very good crocheter after all?  Have I been fooling myself?  Should I send my "Master Crocheter" certificate back to the CGOA?

Then it hit me -- with various family members in and out of the hospital, building a business, out-of-town company and a host of other events, I'd forgotten (or let's be honest - I'd neglected) to block my new motifs.  

So - for the benefit of you still skeptics,  let me just say that blocking your work will make a huge difference in its quality and appeal.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at these before and after pictures.

Crysanthemum Hexagon

After Blocking - Pretty nice, huh?

Blocking creates nice, crisp edges and defines the shape.  I deliberately pulled the corners out a little extra to give a curve to the sides.

Before blocking the motif is blocked, you can see the rounded corners and uneven appearance, and notice how the hexagon is slanting in one direction.  Sloppy! 

The Double Shamrock Hexagon

 After blocking.  It needs a little work, but has pretty even sides, 
and the double shamrock center is clearly visible.

Using blocking wires, rather than pins might have resulted in an even better appearance.

Before blocking - uneven and lumpy.  Not so good.

 And last, but not least:

The Four-Leaf Clover Square

After blocking - nice crisp edges and flat sides.  Looks like a square!

When blocking, I took care to shape the leaves of the center clover.


  1. Yeah, I had the same learning pattern. My projects would turn out lumpy and muddled. Now I block EVERYTHING. It means we have had to make a serious investment in towels, because I tend to use them all for my yarnie stuff. I have the same blocking mats and rust-proof pins, and will be investing in wires soon.

    Blocking equals Magic. Nuff said.

  2. I, too, will soon be purchasing blocking wires, as well as another set of blocking mats. The problem with towels is, you really need to use white ones because you don't want the color bleeding out of the towels and into your work. That would be ghastly!