Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blocking a Crochet Afghan?

I want to preface this post by saying that most of my afghans I do not block.  However, with that being said, I believe there are afghans that benefit from the blocking board.

Today, I want to talk about one of those types of afghans; the aran-style.  Even more specifically, aran-style afghans using wool or a wool-blend yarn.

My top two reasons to block this type of project:

1.  Stitches:  The aran-style blankets use a combination of stitches that vary greatly.  You may have very tight single crochet stitches used to form cables alongside post stitches; treble crochet arrows or diamonds; you could have popcorn stitches that have skipped stitches in between the bobble-like popcorn.  The beauty of these types of afghans are the combination of stitches used.  And, that beauty can be enhanced with blocking.

2.  Tension:  In addition to the stitches used, afghans tend to be large.  If you are like me, you are going to pick up your crochet project and work on it during free times throughout the day.  That includes being interrupted while you're in the middle of a complex cable section.  What does that have to do with anything you may ask?  One word; tension.  Over time, I have found that my tension varies depending on my mood, what is on TV as I crochet, or if I'm enjoying a relaxing cup of tea with my project.  Varied tensions can impact the overall look of your finished object.

Easy steps:

1.  Check your yarn label for washing instructions.  If it says hand wash only, trust me, you don't want to put it in the washing machine.  Wool yarn has a tendency to felt and you don't want a large afghan that you may have spent months working on to be your experiment in machine washing vs. hand washing.  The yarn I've used on my aran-style afghans is safe to put in the machine.  I use Woolite on the gentle cycle.

I'm going to be talking about wet blocking, there are other options out there, but this is the method I use.

2.  Find a good spot to lay out your project.  I use the bed in our spare bedroom.  If you don't have a spare bed, you could lay out clean towels on a carpeted/padded floor.  Use stainless steel rust-proof pins to block your work.  You don't want rust stains on your finished object.

3.  Starting with one side, gently pull and straighten your work, pinning as you go.  I then go to the opposite side of the bed; again, gently pulling and shaping the other side.  I'm using the bed as my form for shaping.

I work my way around the object, always gently pulling/shaping into my rectangular shape, pinning as I go.  You may need to redo some areas to keep your edges and lines straight.

Once you are satisfied with the overall effect, let it dry; completely.  I have a ceiling fan in the spare room, that I turn on high and my afghans are typically dry within 24 hours.  As you can see from this photo, I waited to add the fringe until after the blocking was complete.

Your final results will really show off all the pretty stitches, opening them up like a flower in full bloom.  And as Doris Chan says, "It never hurts and it always gives your work a smooth, even appearance that spells 'hand-made' instead of 'home-made'."

As I stated in the beginning, this post touches on just one specific type of project using a specific type of yarn.  There are many good articles out there on the web.  These are just a few that you may find helpful.

Doris Chan:  Blocking is Your Friend



If you've made it this far, thanks for reading and happy crocheting!