Blocking acrylic crochet blankets

After blocking acrylic crochet blanket featured

In the world of crochet, blocking seems to be quite a misunderstood thing, controversial even. Some crocheters advise blocking everything, others never bother. Some think that only pure wool items can be blocked but that blocking acrylic crochet blankets is a pointless waste of time.

Well, faced with a definitely wonky-looking Attic24 crochet along blanket after I had finished my last stripe, I had to do something. So I investigated how I would go about blocking acrylic crochet blankets.

Before blocking acrylic crochet blankets on hard floor

The aspects of my wonky blanket that concerned me most was the really wobbly edge on the left short side. This is the first part of my blanket, where I started and I had done the foundation chain loosely with a hook that was 2 sizes up from the one I used in the main blanket. I was also worried about the wobbles along the long edge, which look like uneven frills.



After posting this pic on Facebook I got even more worried. Had I made each row even? Did I have more stitches on one side than the other? Eeeeeeek.

Is my Attic24 CAL blanket a rectangle?

Even though I had religiously counted each stripe to make sure I hadn’t gained or lost stitches (I was working to 183 across each stripe), I was still worried and spent ages counting the stitches in my border on each side. The two short sides matched, then so did the long sides. So it couldn’t be anything too drastic.

As the shape on the older part of the blanket is more distorted than the end I’ve just finished, I think it must be just that the earlier part that I did has relaxed more and got stretched about was I’ve worked on it. Towards the end, because its been cold, I was almost wrapped in it as I worked.

Is blocking acrylic crochet blankets even possible?

Going back to the controversies about blocking, this was the first question I had to answer.

I know that Lucy of Attic24 steam blocks her Stylecraft things, so I did a bit more research. Yes, acrylic items can be blocked, but they don’t retain their shape if you just pin them in place, spray them with water and then leave them to dry for 24-48 hours. This is the standard method for blocking knitted and crochet items made from yarn that contains wool.

The reason it works is that wool is a natural fibre and it tends to shrink when it gets wet. Only a little, but the wetting and drying process fixes the wool fibres in their new position.

With acrylic, you need to use steam not because of the water, but because of the heat. The synthetic fibres in the yarn get fixed when they are heated and then cool down again. Lucy’s method is to use a steam iron, moving it over the item that has been pinned in place on an ironing board, with the iron about 3cm above the crocheted fabric. Not closer, because if the iron touches the acrylic yarn, the yarn melts and all your hard work is ruined.

How I decided to block acrylic crochet blankets

My second question was, if I am going to block a blanket, how the heck can I do that? I sat and did a few border squares and gave this some thought. Then I got going again…

My first step was to put the blanket on a carpet and see if I could smooth it out to see exactly how wonky it was. I am sorry for the quality of these pictures – but I was doing this at 10pm last night and the light bulb the room where I was is very yellow…

Before blocking acrylic crochet blankets whole blanket

There are no pins in the blanket at this point but I have smoothed it out and used the pattern on the carpet to line up the edges. (I hate this carpet – it came with the house – so its good to find it was useful for something.)

I then spent about an hour tweaking it and pinning down the edges, not stretching the blanket but just gently teasing it into as perfect a rectangle as I could.

Before blocking acrylic crochet blankets pinned

Despite the terrible light, this is a great improvement. I have no pictures of the blocking process but I can describe how I did it:

  • I had to get an extension lead and run this to the bottom end of the blanket then plug in the steam iron and fill it completely with water.
  • With the iron on the highest steam setting I was on my hands and knees moving the iron around the edges of the blanket, hovering the iron about 3cm (just over an inch) above the blanket and making sure there was plenty of steam and the blanket was heating up just enough. Bum in the air, swearing joyfully. You can see why there are no pictures.
  • After I had done the edges, I kneeled at each side and moved the iron backwards and forwards over the main body of the blanket.

Then I put the iron away, turned the light off, closed the door and went to bed.

After blocking my acrylic crochet blanket

After unpinning the blanket this morning I took it up to the hard floor in my office for a test photograph. It has definitely improved. There are still a few ruffles around the edging but I am putting quite a deep edging on the blanket and I think these will smooth out as I go. I also worked out that the blanket shape looks distorted in photographs because of the way the iphone takes the pics. The blanket is lined up with straight things around it and that bottom right hand corner is perfectly in line, even though it looks like its a bit out of shape.

I am going to work on solving the ruffles as I do the border. A good tip someone on Facebook suggested was doing rows of the border alternately on the right side then the wrong side to help the border and blanket edge to lie flat. I will try that once I have finished the strip of colourful squares that I am putting along the top and bottom of the blanket.

After blocking acrylic crochet blankets on hard floor

After all my faffing with the blocking the blanket does fold up better… the edges line up and it looks much neater.

Although the main part of the blanket is finished, and its looking in better shape now, I still have a lot of work to do with the border. I really would now like to finish the blanket for Christmas though – a real achievement to have done it in the 6 weeks between my birthday in November and Christmas Day!

After blocking acrylic crochet blankets folded

 

27 thoughts on “Blocking acrylic crochet blankets

  1. Bludrakes says:

    My steam iron leaks globs of water more than steam, and I can’t afford a new one right now, and I really need to block this blanket I have. I think my blocking boards are JUST big enough. But I am seriously pondering heating up the blanket with a hair dryer instead. I just told hubby as soon as I get a job I’m buying a big rug lol

  2. Diane says:

    I crocheted an afghan with Red Heart Super Saver acrylic yarn. When I washed it it came out all stretched out and limp. It’s a mess. That has never happened when I’ve washed others. It was the first wash for this one. Fuzz was everywhere too. Do you think I could use your steam method to make it smaller and tighter?

    • Crafternoon Treats says:

      Hi Diane I’m sorry to say but I really doubt it… I think once acrylic is stretched and limp its what is called ‘killed’. It means the fibres have been distorted and they will never return to their previous state. I suspect that the wash was too hot – or maybe it went in the tumble drier on too high a setting? Heat is useful for blocking acrylic but too much and the fibre actually melts and degrades. The fluff that you mention suggests to me that this has happened with your blanket. Its a bummer after all that work but if you can work out what you did when you washed it, make sure you never do it like that again. Cool wash (30C) and gentle cool tumble dry or air dry outside on a sunny day is my preferred method for acrylic blankets. If I then want to get the shape back to perfect, I steam block on a carpet xxx

  3. Edna Biel says:

    Has anyone tried a handheld steamer for clothes? I made a smple Granny square ..One big square. It’s quite crooked when folded. Stitches are correct. Glad I found this info. Hope it fixes mine. Thank you.

  4. Emma says:

    I love your blanket and wouldn’t have noticed the wobbly edges if you hadn’t pointed them out. Thanks for the helpful tips on blocking.

  5. Kathy says:

    This is my blanket! I thought I was a very bad at crocheting. Before I do it, I would like to know how you got that beautiful edge all the way around.
    Thank you

  6. Shirley Earp says:

    I have a crochet board on Pinterest and besides sharing patterns, I also share information for crafters. This method is extremely helpful for anyone that uses acrylic yarn. Would you give me permission to share?

  7. Laraine Longhurst says:

    Thank you so much – very helpful. My question: I assume that once the blanket is in use it will get washed In a washer and dried in a dryer. Does it hold its shape? Thank you again.

    • Crafternoon Treats says:

      Hi Laraine – it depends how roughly you treat it I guess and what its made of. If its 100% acrylic it generally does stay in shape quite well. After taking it out of the washing machine/tumbler, lay it on a bed and shape it while it dries and cools completely. That might help it keep a good shape over time xxx

    • Crafternoon Treats says:

      Hi Leigh that’s great… I’m glad you find the information useful. Have you checked out my new podcast? Look up the Crafternoon Treats channel on YouTube xxxx

  8. Rochelle Marouski says:

    I am going to give your method a try today. Yours looks much better after blocking. Hoping it works on mine. Thank you

  9. Pingback: Cosy stripe blanket on the edge - Crafternoon Treats

  10. Sara says:

    It looks lovely. I find that acrylic blankets also “settle down” after a while once arranged on a bed or something similar. I also the dog likes to re arrange them when I am not looksing so on one notices the edges any way!!

    • Crafternoon Treats says:

      Hi Sara Thanks for that encouraging comment – you are right, once the blanket is finished, it will be well used and that is all that matters really 🙂 x

  11. sandra says:

    I always find the edges the most challenging to get right – I’m only about a third of the way with the Cosy Cal – and loving it – I have all this to come. Thanks for your demo.

    • Crafternoon Treats says:

      Hi Sandra its a really lovely blanket to do – missing doing mine already even though I am still busy with the border. Its not the same as the easy rows!

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