How to block and soften acrylic yarn after your knitting project is ready

When it comes to elevating your knitting or crochet project, the secret lies in the art of blocking. This crucial step not only enhances the overall appearance of your creation but also ensures durability and a professional finish. In this guide, I’ll specifically explore the process of blocking acrylic yarn, demystifying the steps to achieve that polished look for your masterpiece.

Introduction to Blocking Acrylic Yarn

What is blocking yarn?

Blocking is the process of wetting or steaming your final pieces of knitting to set the finished size and even out the stitches. You could use any flat surface to block your garments (I’m partial to the Knitter’s Block), just be sure that your knitted piece lies flat and fully dries so that its shape sets.

block and soften acrylic yarn
block and soften acrylic yarn

Does blocking work on acrylic yarn?

Blocking can help even out your stitches and make your finished project look neater.
Understanding Acrylic Yarn Before delving into the blocking process it’s essential. The unique characteristics of acrylic yarn, unlike natural fibers doesn’t respond to blocking in the same way. However, with the right techniques, you can still achieve impressive results.

Do you have to block knitting after every wash?

Blocking after every wash is not always necessary, but it depends on the type of project, yarn, and your personal preference. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Fiber Type: Different fibers react differently to washing. Natural fibers like wool tend to benefit more from blocking, as it helps reshape and set the stitches. Acrylic, on the other hand, may not require blocking as much, as it doesn’t have the same memory as natural fibers.
  2. Type of Project: Items that benefit from blocking include lace patterns, intricate stitch patterns, and garments. Blocking helps open up lacework, evens out stitches, and gives a polished finish to finished pieces. For simpler items like scarves or blankets, blocking might not be as crucial, especially if you prefer a more relaxed and casual look.
  3. Washing Method: If you hand wash your knitted items and handle them gently, they might not lose their shape as much as items thrown into a washing machine. If you machine wash and tumble dry, blocking can become more necessary to restore the shape.
  4. Personal Preference: Some knitters enjoy the process of blocking and find it therapeutic. Others may find it unnecessary for certain projects or may prefer the relaxed, unblocked look.
  5. Storage: If you store your knitted items folded or in a way that might cause them to lose shape, blocking can help restore their original form.

In summary, while blocking can enhance the appearance and shape of your knitting, it’s not an absolute requirement after every wash. Assess the specific needs of each project, and consider your own preferences and the care instructions for the yarn used.

Do you block knitting in cold water?

Yes, you can block knitting in cold water, especially if the yarn and project allow for it.
However, always follow the yarn manufacturer’s recommendations for blocking temperature. I prefer to always block in cold water and if using hot water prefer temperatures under 35 celsius degrees.

How to wet block your knitting in 7 steps

Preparing the bath for your knitting project

Leave cold water in a sink or bucket and add the wool detergent. Begin by filling a sink or basin with clean water. Ensure the water temperature and soaking time align with the yarn manufacturer’s recommendations. Specifically, for any Brooklyn Tweed yarn knits, opt for cold water and soak for approximately 15 minutes.

Let your knit sit in the water for at least 10 minutes, but the longer the better as the fibres take on more water and relax into their blocked state better. I’d say the benefits of soaking level out at about an hour or so of soaking, but come back to it whenever you remember it.

Give your knitted piece a gentle bath

While soaking, fully submerge the fabric, gently eliminating any air bubbles to allow it to remain under the water without assistance.
For a visual guide on using Shampoo and Conditioner, refer to my instructional video down bellow.

Rinse and Conditioner acrylic yarn for softening

If desired, you can introduce a small amount of delicate dish soap or shampoo to the soaking water. In the case of non-rinseless options, be sure to re-submerge the piece in clean water one or two times to eliminate any soap residue from your fabric. Leave the piece for 10 min in shampoo or soap, remove the excess of soap.
Fill up the sink with water again and add conditioner or fabric softener and leave it for more 20 or 30 min. The conditioner scent goes away after a few days.

Absorb the remaining water

Gently squeeze (avoid wringing) to eliminate excess water, and proceed to roll the item between clean, dry towels with light pressure to further reduce moisture.
Once the soaking process is complete, carefully lift the item out of the water, ensuring even support to prevent the wet knitting from sagging and stretching the garment. Any type of yarn has the capacity to absorb a significant amount of water, making the item quite heavy.

Pin out your knitting straight

Choose a spot for blocking your item where it can dry undisturbed (watch out for curious pets!). Cover a clean area of carpet or a mattress with a bedsheet, or use a blocking board or mats. For smaller items like shawls, cork wall boards are handy, allowing you to pin them vertically. Enlist a second set of hands if needed.

Carefully shape the damp item by hand into a rough approximation of the desired shape—whether it’s a square, rectangle, or triangle.

Making the knitting project edges straight

Achieving straight edges in your knitting project, such as scarf sides, pieced pullover sides, or the tops and sides of a triangular shawl, involves threading blocking wires with care. Run the wires through the space between the selvedge stitch and its neighboring stitch at short and regular intervals along the edge. Handle the wet wool delicately, as it’s most susceptible to damage when damp. Consult the pattern’s schematic and measure from the center if the piece is symmetrical. Maintain proportional scaling when adjusting the size.

Once the blocking wires are in place, use pins along the inside of each wire at consistent intervals while stretching the item to the desired dimensions. Insert the pins at an angle into the blocking surface to enhance stability as the fabric dries. If blocking wires are not available, use extra pins at the straight edges to prevent scalloped edges at each pin.

For curved edges like a sleeve cap or neckline, simply pin at short and regular intervals along the curves.

How to block Sentro knitting machine beanies or hats

When blocking hats, secure the brim flat while allowing the crown to gracefully curve off the surface. Regularly rotate and reposition the hat every few hours to promote an even curve on the crown and prevent creases on the sides. Here’s a nifty trick: block the hat over the underside of a bowl, then balance the upturned bowl over a paper towel roll or another cylindrical object. This technique ensures a beautifully shaped hat with minimal effort.

Let it completely air-dry

Steam blocking acrylic yarn finished projects

To steam block acrylic yarn, start by finding a flat, heat-resistant surface. Set your iron to the steam setting with water in the reservoir. Place your finished acrylic project on the blocking surface, ensuring it’s in the desired shape. To protect the acrylic yarn from direct heat, cover it with a damp cloth or a pressing cloth, like a cotton or linen tea towel. The cloth should be damp but not dripping.
Hold the iron about ½” (1.5 cm) above the cloth and move it around, allowing the steam to penetrate the acrylic fibers. Ensure even exposure to steam across the project.
Reposition the project as needed to ensure all sections receive equal attention. Be careful not to press the iron onto the project.
Allow the acrylic project to dry completely before handling or removing it from the blocking surface. This lets the acrylic fibers cool and set in the desired shape.
Remember, the effects of steam blocking on acrylic yarn may be less pronounced than on natural fibers, so always check the yarn label for care instructions and test a small area before applying steam to the entire project.

Video Tutorial of how to block and soften a knitted blanket

Conclusion

To block and soften acrylic yarn is a transformative process that can take your knitting or crochet project from ordinary to extraordinary.
Experiment with these techniques, find what works best for your specific project, and unlock the full potential of acrylic yarn. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to dive in and refine your blocking skills with each new creation.

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  1. Pingback: FREE Sentro knitting machine blanket pattern

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