Wet and Spray Blocking Acrylic Yarn

You can check out the video tutorial for this topic here.

I’ve showed you how to steam block acrylic yarn, now I will show you the less stressful method of wet and spray blocking. I say less stressful because even though I love steam blocking, it can be very scary to put that steam right next to your newly finished project that could have taken you anywhere from 2 hours to 2 months to complete. We all breathe a sigh of relief when the steam has done its job and we can put the iron away, but if you can’t bring yourself to risk your project to the steam, then these two methods are for you.

But, why do I need to block at all?

Great question! If your yarn was a scratchy acrylic, blocking will soften it. If your stitches are a little uneven, blocking can stretch them to all the same size. If one motif is smaller than the others, blocking can extend its size to match the rest. Blocking can fix tons of mistakes we make while crocheting so we don’t have to frog our project and start over.

I’m combining wet and spray blocking in this tutorial 1) because they are almost the exact same method, just done in a different order, and 2) you can see that the outcome of both are nearly identical.

First, we will begin with our two motifs.

We will wet block one and spray block the other.
I will wet block one and spray block the other.

For both types of blocking you will need a surface to pin your project to, I use blocking boards in the photos, but you can substitute with an ironing board or simple towel. You will also need water, either a spray bottle for spray blocking, or a bowl of water for wet blocking. You will also need some rust proof (very important) pins and a measuring tape if you need the project to be a certain size. Once you gather these items you are ready to begin.

Next, I pin one of my motifs to a blocking board to get it ready for spray blocking and put the other in a bowl of water to sit for about 10 minutes for wet blocking.

I pin the motif in the final shape I want it to be, notice I pinned the corners out to a point.
I pin the motif in the final shape I want it to be, notice I pinned the corners out to a point. I left the tails out on this motif so I would be able to tell the difference between the two at the end.
The longer I let the motif sit in the water the more it will "bloom" which means the stitches take in water and the yarn relaxes more.
I put the other motif in the water. The longer I let the motif sit in the water the more it will “bloom” which means the stitches take in water and the yarn relaxes more.

After my motif is pinned to the board, I get my spray bottle with normal tap water.

Temperature doesn't matter on the water. Cold out of the tap is just fine.
Temperature doesn’t matter on the water. Cold out of the tap is just fine.

Next, start spraying. Don’t stop until the whole piece is saturated.

Don't forget all the edges.
Don’t forget all the edges.

Now that it’s completely wet, you need to wait for it to completely dry.

Spray blocking takes the longest to dry since you don't pat out the excess water before pinning.
Spray blocking takes the longest to dry since you don’t pat out the excess water before pinning.

While we wait for that one to dry, lets get back to our wet blocked motif. Pull it out of the bowl and squeeze out the excess water.

Don't wring the project or it will twist out of shape. I fold and squeeze gently to get out the extra water of this motif.
Don’t wring the project or it will twist out of shape. I fold and squeeze gently to get out the extra water of this motif.

Then get out some more water using a towel.

Lay the motif between the towel and press to absorb the water.
Lay the motif between the towel and press to absorb the water.

Now you can pin the damp motif to your blocking board. Remember both of the motifs are wet so use rust proof pins. Now we wait for them to dry. Stick them out of direct sunlight to keep them from fading.

wet9
The spray blocked motif is on the bottom and the wet blocked motif is on top. Notice how much darker the spray blocked motif looks (because it’s still very wet).

Once dry, you can unpin and marvel in their shape and feel. So much softer than the scratchy acrylic you began with!

All dry and the same color again.
All dry and the same color again.
See how both methods give you the same outcome. Great looking (and feeling) motifs.
See how both methods give you the same outcome. Great looking (and feeling) motifs.

So why would you chose one method over the other?

I usually choose whichever is easier for the size project I am blocking. Sticking a large project in a bowl of water and then removing the water can be difficult. I will usually spray block those. I will toss small projects in a bowl and let them sit. They are easy to get the excess water out and pin while damp. It’s totally up to you though which method you choose.

Do you have a preferred method of blocking? I’d love to hear about it. You can tell me all about it below!

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18 thoughts on “Wet and Spray Blocking Acrylic Yarn

  1. I don’t have a board big enough to block my scarf entirely, so should I block it in different sections? Will it affect my final product?

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    • You can block a little bit at a time. It will take a little while. One thing I do when I don’t have a big enough mat for something is lay out towels on my bed or floor if you have a big enough area that won’t be disturbed and use that to block with. The mat is mostly for holding the pins, so towels on top of something that can be pinned to works great. 🙂

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  2. If I steam block a crochet acrylic blanket will it set the yarn so as to avoid future fuzzing? I sell my blankets and want them to wash and wear well for my customers.
    Thanks!
    Angie

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    • Hi there, usually acrylic won’t fuzz. Since it is synthetic, the long strands won’t pill as much as a natural blend that has much shorter strands. Blocking is more for shaping than fuzz prevention. Sticking with a 100% acrylic brand will wear better than any natural yarn if the customer is machine washing and drying. 🙂

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  3. I am making a blanket that has 3 different types of square ( granny,circle in a square,plain ) from a pattern book .. They turn out a different size for each , the granny being the smallest..will blocking help and should I block all of them.

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    • If they are slightly off in size, blocking can help to get them all the same size. However, if they are really off (like more than an inch) it will be tough to get them to size. You might want to try changing your hook size on the ones that are off to get them to a better size that will work with the others. 🙂

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  4. If I want to wet block a scarf that is curling and is acrylic will that work? I didn’t think you cold wet block acrylic….Or is it just like any other yarn as far as blocking is concerned? Do I need to add hand wash yarn soap in the water?

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    • Thank you. I have read that blocking acrylic is impossible. I will give it a try. It is not the edges curling its the whole thing..Maybe I knit the cables too tight? Any ideas why it curls? It is like my scarf has a permanent twist lol!

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  5. My wife is knitting me a version of the famous 4th Doctor Who’s 12-foot scarf. We’ve settled on Acrylic yarn because it’s more comfortable on my neck. Assuming I have this right, the pattern actually calls for an 8-foot wool yarn scarf that’s blocked to 12 feet. My understanding is that acrylic can’t be blocked to quote this length, but can still be stretch quite a bit (perhaps 9 feet stretched to 12). My question deals with how best to block something so long, we’re not going to buy a blocking board, so are left with what we have around the house. What would you suggest? Can it be blocked in sections with a towel? Etc.

    Thanks 🙂

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    • Hi there, that scarf sounds awesome. True with the acrylic having less stretch than the wool when blocking. Unless you have a 12 ft stretch of real estate on carpet in your house you can definitely do it in parts. Just be sure to use part of the newly blocked past part with the section you are blocking next so they match up. If you do have 12 ft of carpet available, you can put towels down and pin right into the carpet, your carpet pad will hold the pins. Just be sure if you wet block, don’t spray the water on so you don’t soak your carpet underneath. 🙂

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      • And don’t forget, Carl (or Carl’s knitting wife) that garter stitch gets longer with use! I have made many 12th season scarves (using wool) and they grew and grew much to the delight of Tom Baker fans. Acrylic is much easier to care for. You don’t have to block it to the full 12 feet. Gravity is your friend here. I have put acrylic ones in the washer (inside a very large mesh bag) and washed gentle cycle on cold with a bit of fabric softener.

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    • One of the first projects i made when I took up crocheting again was a shawl that was too big for my blocking mat. I steam-blocked it in sections, waiting for the each part to dry completely before taking out the pins and pulling the next part onto the mat for pinning and steaming. It came out just fine.

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  6. silly question, but I have never blocked my projects. after laundering do these all need to be reblocked, and if not, do these items retain the softness?

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    • After washing you usually only need to reblock things that have become misshapen. Lace type shawls and scarves are a great example, they usually lose their stitch definition after washing so you would need to reblock it before it dries. You can reblock anything that doesn’t look its best after washing. Just be sure to block before drying. Also most yarn will get softer when you wash it. The more you wash the softer it will get. Be careful of 100% natural fibers though (ie. wool) they will felt if not washed properly. Always hand wash those.

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