"To label any human being as inferior based on their health, their appearance, their size, their choices in food or physical activity or any other arbitrary measure that is nobody's business but their own is bigotry." ~ Fat Heffalump

3/13/09

You CAN Block Acrylic, You Should Block Acrylic

I am a reader of Anne Hansens blog, Knitspot. She does the most awesome lace shawl patterns in the universe. She has just released her new Maplewing shawl pattern. It's absolutely the most stunningly gorgeous pattern she has come up with yet! Unfortunately, I had problems downloading the pattern after I purchased it. I've run out of downloads (you get 3) trying to download it and still don't have my pattern. After having a right good panic attack for about 45 minutes, and emailing her shouts of help, I need to settle down. Anne has excellent customer service so I'm sure the problem will be resolved. I just need to be patient and wait until she can help.

Take large cleansing breath here.


Okay. I'm feeling a little better now. On to todays topic.

Being a member of Ravelry, I get to read all kinds of wonderful information on the subject of knitting, crochet, spinning, etc. It's a veritable fountain of all things knitterly. However, there is one thing that pops up in the forums every so often that just makes my blood boil. The myth that Acrylic can not be blocked. I've found the hand knitting community seems to believe this to be true. Even the celebrity designers and whatnot.

Wrong-in epic proportions!

Acrylic CAN be blocked. Let me repeat that.

Acrylic CAN be blocked!

In fact, it should be blocked. From my observations, I would say someone along the line made an acrylic sweater, blanket, or whatnot, blocked it in their usual 'wet blocking' manner and it didn't work. Therefore, acrylic doesn't block-warn everybody. No, it can be blocked. You're just doing it wrong.

I'm gonna tell you how to do it right.

First of all, as I said above, acrylic projects need to be blocked. It gives the yarn it's final finish. In other words, the yarn itself will look much better if it's blocked. We all know how sad an unblocked acrylic garment looks. All wrinkly, uneven, and kind of like it has morning bed head. I sometimes think acrylic gets it's bad reputation amongst the wool lovers because of this very situation. (Never mind they didn't block it right to begin with.)

Acrylic is basically a form of plastic. It requires steam blocking. It's the way it's done in the professional garment industry. It's the way we should be doing it.

It's quite easy to do. You pin your pieces out on your blocking board to the measurements required, making sure the straight edges are straight and even, and the curves are curved properly. If your gauge is just a little bit off so the piece is a little too small, you can stretch it out to where it's supposed to be. The change will be permanent once the blocking is complete.

I use blocking wires for this purpose. I love my blocking wires. In fact, I consider blocking wires the best way to pin a garment out for blocking. Takes way less pins, you don't end up with those scalloped wavy edges, and it's much more accurate for blocking to schematic measurements. Make sure, if you get some, to get a set that has the thin flexible wires for doing curves as well as the regular straight ones. Curves need blocking too.

For the most part, I usually pin things wrong side up. However, if the fabric has a deeply textured pattern in it, like cables and twisted stitches I will pin it right side up to prevent the texture from being flattened.

After pinning it out, you steam it, gently. I own a Jiffy Steamer for the purpose because knitting is my obsession. However, a good steam iron works just fine. Make sure you hover over the garment. Do not touch the fabric with the iron or it will melt. Do not over steam it either or you'll kill it. While steaming I will gently pat the fabric with my fingers to smooth it out. That's pat, not slide. Sliding your hand over it will cause it to stretch where it shouldn't. If there are cables, I'll pinch them a bit so they stand out a little bit more.

Killing is another one of those misunderstood issues. Killing acrylic means to overheat it to the point that it loses it's elasticity. Just steaming it a bit won't kill acrylic.

Sometimes a person wants to kill it on purpose, in which case, kill away. Killed acrylic has a wonderful silky drape that is quite pleasant, and unique. I have on occasion killed some acrylic on purpose for just this reason. Makes wonderful pleated skirts this way.

Here are some comparison photos of the baby cardigan I'm currently making. Please click on them to get enlarged versions.

Not blocked

A little wrinkly, the stitches are uneven, the ruffle wants to curl in an unattractive way, the button band curves and the edges inside the button band are puckered.

close up



Blocked


The fabric is smoother, the button band is straight, the inside edges don't pucker, and the ruffle lays as it should.

Close up of same corner as above.


Now, lets see side by side views.


Close up
Which one would you rather be seen in? (Assuming you're the same size as a 6 month old baby of course) I don't want to hear any more "Acrylic can't be blocked". Okay?

By the way, I steam block almost everything. Wool responds beautifully to steam blocking. I prefer it to wet blocking. If the professional garment industry can steam block, so can we.

Have a great day.

~~~~~~~

3/23/2011 Update

I am constantly being asked if steam blocking acrylic is permanent, or will it have to be reblocked after washing? The answer is it's permanent. So feel free to toss that gorgeous acrylic garment in the washer and dryer.

141 comments:

LaurieM said...

Thanks for the tutorial!

SoreLoser said...

Can I just say I love you?

Thanks very much for the tutorial on this. I myself just started knitting and just learned of "blocking". Of course I've been using the cheap acrylic yarn I can find anywhere, and I had no idea how to block it.

And to be honest I really didn't think blocking mattered much, but your photos have now showed me!

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!! I have a scarf that curls inward and i didn't know how to block it. I planned to make a 64" yellow scarf with lavender pockets but, i thought that i would have to put the scarf in the wash and let it air dry flat. I've been knitting for a few months now and I've been crocheting for almost a year, so I still have a lot to learn. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!! BYE BYE!!! :-)

lisa-marli said...

OOO, I love the thought of steam blocking. It is so much gentler. I have a clothes steamer. So Yeah!
Not to mention, have you ever tried to pin down a Doctor Who scarf for blocking? Not having enough space doesn't even begin to cover it. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the information! I really appreciate the pictures showing the before and after. It's just what I needed.

Marielle said...

Thank you so much! I am making an acrylic intarsia purse and was so worried it would have to stay clumpy and uneven forever. Now I can't wait to steam block it!

kloseknit said...

Hey, wonderful info!! I will definetly try it with my current project. Does it stay "straight" after you block it? After washing? Forever?? I want to instruct my customers on this if it will become an issue later. Thanks for your GREAT INFO!!

Anonymous said...

Just started knitting. Info on steam-blocking acrylic VERY helpful...
Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial! I have long loved the blocking effects on my wool projects - and wished to do the same with acrylics. Now I can. :)
Thanks again!

shyamashoots said...

Thank you so much! It was so hard to find proper information on blocking Acrylic pieces. And most sites seem to just shun Acrylic in favour of fancy yarns. I like fancy yarns too but I'm knitting a bunch of things for my cousins baby they need something that can be washed easily.

Thanks again.

Elise said...

I just found this post today, and I am so thankful for it! I am almost finished writing a pattern that I will be submitting to Ravelry, and if it's ok with you, I'd like to link to this post, either in the pattern itself, or on it's Ravelry page. I'm also going to mention it on my next podcast!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for these instructions. I believe a steamer is on my list to save for now. My grandchildren will benefit from acrylic yarn garments that also look beautiful when blocked properly. Joanie

Anonymous said...

Nice brief and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you as your information.

Lisa B. said...

Thanks so much for this! After a thorough, hard, long look at my finances I've concluded that good-looking acrylic yarn will be the yarn for me in the foreseeable future. I've just finished an Interweave jacket out of some really nice acrylic yarn--and after all that work I had no idea how to block it! Now, thanks to you, I feel more confident.

Amybel said...

Thanks for this great post. I found it through Ravelry search because I knew I had to block my acrylic sweater and knew someone could tell me how to do it right. Now...hoping *I* can actually do it!

Debbi-a1 said...

Thank you. I've never blocked acryllic because I thought you couldn't. However it was crocheted (I crochet) was how it turned out. I have a steam iron somewhere... maybe. I use acryllic mostly because it's inexpensive and easily available. Thank you again for this!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this encouraging info! Now - should I block before I knit on armhole bands, attach a hoodie, & seam the sides to my grandson's little vest? I'm using a camo green ombre 100% acrylic and just seamed the shoulders when I searched and found your tutorial. This is my first garment, so I will wait for a reply before proceeding further. Bless you! -Newish Knitter TX

BeadKnitter said...

@ Newish Knitter TX

Yes, you should block it first. The finishing will look much better done on blocked pieces. I always block before seaming and putting on bands.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the advice - I will block tonight and then do the bands as you suggest. :} Newish Knitter

Robin said...

This was just what I needed! Thank you! I'm off to block the acrylic baby sweater I made.

Elizabeth said...

Holy cow, I can't say "thank you" enough! I had just finished making a shawl that is going to be raffled off on Mother's Day in the nursing home I work in. The shawl absolutely needed to be acrylic because it will be washed in industrial washers/dryers and by people who just don't know how to care for a delicate garment. I took my shawl into my LYS and after being told it was acrylic the woman literally shoved my shawl back at me and said flatly, "Acrylic can't be blocked."

I am so glad I found your post! My shawl blocked wonderfully with your instructions and will make a wonderful present for one of our ladies! :)

Justbecauseitmakesmesmile said...

Thank you soooooo much!!
I crocheted my baby a dress but didn't want the puffy acrylic look.
I killed it with a penguin steamer and it worked great!
I put some pictures on my blog and gave you credit (and linked to you too).
Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Thank you!
I was asked by a coworker to make a very special baby blanket for her new great-niece. Thanks to your advise, I picked up a set of blocking wires and a steamer and it turned out beautifully! Now to pull out some earlier projects that turned out "ok" and steam them into perfection!

Jan in CA said...

That's an amazing difference! I thought only killing made it permanent.. so what happens if the garment is washed..it says pretty like that? Baby items often get tossed in the washer and dryer.. will it still be nice after that? Thank you!

Jan

BeadKnitter said...

@Jan in CA. Yes, if the garment is washed it stays pretty like that. One of the joys of using acrylic yarns. ;-)

Beadknitter

Anonymous said...

Really great info, thank you!!

Jan in CA said...

Awesome! Thanks for the reply! ♥ I will definitely get a steamer soon!

Jan

Janet said...

Thank you for taking the time to write this information and for sharing it! It is quite valuable and I will be sure to share it with my knitting friends. We just talked about blocking acrylic and I was told it couldn't be done! Well now I am convinced it can and should be done! Wow! Thank you again!

Jan in CA said...

I have another question... I am making a baby sweater with Plymouth Jeannee which is a 50/50 cotton/acrylic blend. Have you blocked with this type yarn? If yes can you tell me if it reacts the same way or does the cotton completely change how it works? Thanks!
Jan

Vinita said...

I had absolutely no idea! This is so cool. I have an acrylic project on needles and the border curls up just it did on your sweater. I'm going to try this. Thank you thank you thank you!

Lynn said...

Thanks for great directions! I have read other places how to block the acrylic, and have asked about it, but it is great to have the specifics. Thanks!

Carly said...

Thank you for these clear, encouraging directions. I'm almost finished with my *first* garment - sweaters for my two preschool daugthers. The picot bind-off edges curl up a bit and I'm utterly relieved to learn about how to block my acrylic/nylon yarn. Thanks again!

Queen of Couth said...

Thank you so much for this! I"m making myself an obnoxiously long super chunky yarn (ACRYLIC!) sweater. It's going to need some blocking and your answer was awesome and better yet ... doable with what I have at home.

Thanks again!
QoC

wonderinthewoods said...

Thank you for this! I just made a scarf with Caron simply soft and tried a very low iron but it was still too hot and it changed the sheen on a small part of it. I'm glad to know how to do it right and your post made me smile.

Lisa said...

Yay! Good news for me! :-) Thanks so much for putting this up. I'm making a purse that's currently all curly and I was dreading figuring out how to get it flattened out.

ze_grape said...

Hi Linda,

Thank you so much for showing proof with your blog! Not only did blocking cure the silly curls, it also enhanced the colours! I love it that you even added a little tip on pinching cables.

I am knitting a scarf for my bf who is about 6 ft tall. Would you have an idea how much a 70/30 blend of acrylic/wool would stretch after steam blocking so I can gauge the knitted length to stop at.

Snowcatcher said...

Yay!!! I've found a place where acrylic is not a dirty word!!! Wonderful tutorial. Good to see that what Grandma taught has some merit!

Thanks for sharing your comment experience today on Ravelry. I really appreciate it, and I enjoyed peeking at your blog! Beautiful background!!!

knit one, knit two said...

Thank you for sharing this tutorial. I am definitely book marking it so I can refer to it in the future! This will be especially handy when I block baby blankets or squares for blanket projects.

Livewiregnat said...

Thanks for the tutorial! It helped me so much! I made an earwarmer/ headband that was in desperate need of a good blocking! I made it out of Vanna's Choice and it came out gorgeous!

l_wentworth@comcast.net said...

Thanks so much - I have been knitting for years and have ruined a couple of scarves and a vest trying to block acrylic yarn. I can't wait to try this with the current scarf I am knitting. Now I just have to find some blocking wires.... Are there any alternatives?

Gioia said...

Great information! If I steam blocked a garmet and "killed it" is there anyway to get it to go back. My problem is a stockinette sweater with garter stitch striped bands at the sleeve and bottom's edge. Can I save the garter stitch to plump up more or do I need to start over?
Thanks!!

BeadKnitter said...

JaninCA asked "I have another question... I am making a baby sweater with Plymouth Jeannee which is a 50/50 cotton/acrylic blend. Have you blocked with this type yarn? If yes can you tell me if it reacts the same way or does the cotton completely change how it works?"

Block it as if it were 100% acrylic. It will react just the same as if it were. Even as little as 10% acrylic needs to be steam blocked.

ze-grape asked: "I am knitting a scarf for my bf who is about 6 ft tall. Would you have an idea how much a 70/30 blend of acrylic/wool would stretch after steam blocking so I can gauge the knitted length to stop at?"

I really don't know the answer to that question. It will stretch as much as you want to block it to I suppose. Both acrylic and wool have a lot of elasticity. I would recommend knitting a 5 foot scarf. My husband is 6 foot 4 and he likes it about that long. I wouldn't stretch it a lot when you block it unless it's lace.

l_wentworth@comcast.net asked: Now I just have to find some blocking wires.... Are there any alternatives?"

Any wire will work as long as it's rust proof.

Goia asked: "If I steam blocked a garment and "killed it" is there anyway to get it to go back. My problem is a stockinette sweater with garter stitch striped bands at the sleeve and bottom's edge. Can I save the garter stitch to plump up more or do I need to start over?"

If you kill it to the point that it's flat and limp, there is no saving it. Killing actually melts the yarn and destroys it's elasticity. Even if you frog it and reuse the yarn to knit it over, that part of the yarn that is killed will be limp and flat.

You have to really steam a lot to kill acrylic. The weight of an iron put directly on the fabric, even if there's a pressing cloth between, will kill it too. If you just hover for a few seconds, you should be fine.

Lynn said...

I recently finished a scarf for my son. It curls a lot even though I used garter stitch on both sides and the ends! It actually looks more like a tube than a scarf. I want to fix this....permanently....so would just steam blocking do the trick or should it be killed?

Nina said...

I was so glad to find this post a few months ago and I've been steaming away!

Now I'm almost done with my first no acrylic anywhere 100% wool sweater and I'm wondering if steam is sufficient or if it needs to be wet blocked. What's your preference?

Thanks so much for providing such great information.

BeadKnitter said...

@Nina,
I steam block everything. I don't do wet blocking.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Now... how do you block ruffles?! I just made a baby bonnet with a ruffle around the face, & the ruffle looks...well a lot like the first one in the photo. Suggestions on blocking this ruffle (which is going to be harder since I can't lay it flat).

Virginia

joymama said...

Thank you. Groups that I donate to
often require acrylic yarn products.

~*Alyssa*~ said...

I am so glad that I found this. I've been putting of finishing a scarf just for that reason. But most of the things I was reading did not make sense. Maybe people are just arrogant.

I do not have a blocking board. However, I was wondering if doing a waste yarn method on a scarf would work? And could that method be used being tied around a door. Reason for a door? My steamer leaks if I try to flat steam.

BeadKnitter said...

~*Alyssa*~: I do not know. I've never tied anything to a door to block it before. My instinct says no, but I suggest you give it a try. It's the only way you'll know the answer.

Personally, I would either lay a sheet out on the floor and use the carpet as a blocking board (the sheet would protect the carpet and the project), or use my bed. I'd use duct tape to plug the leak on the steamer. But that's just me. I come from a long family line of duct tape lovers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great instructions!
I had no idea that I should have been blocking all my acrylic projects. Just one question though, should the garment be wet or dry when you steam block it? Or do you just spray it lightly so that it's damp?

Lynne

BeadKnitter said...

Hi Lynne,
It should be dry.

Jo from Belgium said...

Thanks for this info! I've just finished a baby blanket that definitely needs blocking. It's my first try of acrylic blocking, so fingers crossed!
Another project I want to start on is a sweater in acrylic, but the pattern is worked in the round. Could you tell me how to go about blocking it then, as I cannot block the separate parts before seaming (as there is no seaming, the reason I love knitting in the round :-)). Thanks - Jo from Belgium

BeadKnitter said...

Dear Jo from Belgium:
Well, obviously it can't be pinned out like pieces knitted flat. I usually just lay the sweater out on my blocking board, making sure there are no wrinkles, and steam it-avoiding the edges so I don't steam in any creases. There is a blocking device called a Sweater Blocker that is similar to sock blockers for blocking sweaters knit in the round. They are usually made of wood.

There is also the Wooly Board, which is also for blocking sweaters. They are adjustable for many sizes.

If you plan to knit a lot of sweaters this way, it might be a good thing to get a sweater blocker of some sort.

Link to Sweater blockers:
http://www.etsy.com/listing/66923106/vintage-wood-form-sweater-block

Link to Wooly Board:
http://www.camillavalleyfarm.com/knit/woolyboard.htm

Susan said...

I knew it!! I just made a hex multi colored tote which had some bumps and curves in the wrong places. I had heard the ole "You can't block acrylic" and didn't know what I was going to do to straighten things out. So I googled it and found your post!! I just pinned it to my ironing board and steamed it and now it is perfect!!!
Thank you, thank you!!

Carey said...

Hi - I remember my Mum ironing suits by laying them out and putting a wet towel on them and then ironing the towel. Presumably this pushes steam into the fabric below. I've always been wary of blocking acrylic in case I melt something but your post has given me confidence. Thanks :o)

renalu said...

Thanks for the great tutorial. I have never blocked anything before. I usually use acrylic because I am allergic to wool. I am knitting my sis-in-law a sweater and the pieces look really good now. I can't wait to get it put together and finished.

crownvic said...

Thanks for the tutorial, but how do I use the blocking wires? Run them through the edges or ???

BeadKnitter said...

crownvic asked:

"... how do I use the blocking wires? Run them through the edges or ???"

Yes, you run them through the edges.It takes a lot less pins to hold the garment at the size and shape you want with blocking wires than it does with just pins. You also don't get that scalloped look on the edges that can sometimes occur with pins.

Sharon M said...

Thanks for the info - I've been blocking acrylic for 25+ years and never, until recently, knew I was not supposed to block it. Your Steamer is going on my Christmas wishlist

Kendra Davis said...

*HUGS* You're my hero! Thank you for posting thist.

Joaniesmom said...

Thanks so much for the blocking instructions and pictures. Instead of using my fingers to pat the fabric flat, I use a small,fuzzy paint roller. I find it works very well without leaving little fingerprints.

Jen The Hippie said...

Thank you much for solving the myth. I just started learning how to block my knits and crochets. I did a very cute owl wall hanging for a friend that had pretty bad curled edges. Steam blocked it, and now it's all nice and pretty!

Much appreciated!

Leng said...

Thank you so much for this post.I never tried blocking before since I was also told that Acrylic cannot be block but since I read your post last night, I have been blocking since this morning and it does makes a difference. I am now a fan of blocking!!

hippiechic03 said...

OMG! Thank you so much for this post. I was worried since I just finished a baby blanket which is made out of a wool/fibre/cashmere blend & it pucckered where I have to sew the pieces together. I really didnt want to go through the wet blocking process again & didnt think that it would help the puckered areas any how. THANK YOU!!!!!!!! I'm going to try this at home! And now I know that accrylic is best to be steamed blocked. I have done wet blocking on my last two blankets which were accrylic & it just didnt seem to do much. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

S. Woudenberg said...

Another message of gratitude! A year ago I finished an entrelac baby blanket made--as a kindness to the new mom--out of washable acrylic. I was thrilled with the result until it came time to actually give it away & I eyed it super-critically, seeing that the tiny details of a wonky pulled square here, a too-puffy square there, a too tight border, all made it look homemade. But I "knew" acrylic couldn't be blocked so it's sat in the Box o' Shame all this time. You've given me hope that the effort & love that went into making the blanket won't have been wasted! Bless you for sharing your wisdom with us!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this info. But I, too, have some questions: how does one block a ruffle? And how far above the item should one hold the steamer? Thanks again.

BeadKnitter said...

Anonymous,
You asked "How does one block a ruffle?"

I steam a little, then shape with my fingers. Repeat. Just be careful you don't burn yourself.

"How far above the item should I hold the steamer?" Just an inch or so.

Jenn said...

Thank you so much for this lesson in blocking! I've been crocheting in acrylic for 20 years, and I tried blocking for the first time this evening after reading your instructions. Wow, it worked so beautifully!
I put a towel down over the carpet and pinned everything right to the floor. It took some time, but it was worth it!

Thanks again,

Jenn

Brenda said...

Wow!! Thank u so much for this great explananation of acrylic blocking!! I especially love the photos of the side-by-side it makes things SOO much clearer!! I was always told that acrylic couldn't be blocked but I feel like my eyes have been "opened"

THANK YOUUU!!! I wil def be visiting a lot more often!

:-)

Anonymous said...

I am knitting an acrylic scarf and it is a bit rough..I was wondering if hand washing it with a mild soap/shampoo is okay, and if hair conditioner really will make it softer/and do you rinse the conditioner out? Should you let acrylic projects air dry or can you put them in the dryer? And FINALLY should you steam block acrylic projects before or after you've washed them?? Thank you SOO much for all this great information..if I hadn't found this I would have wet blocked my project! :) Thanks again!!

---Mandy

sidekick! said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial!!! I love working in acrylic for babies and small children, but have always just accepted the slightly goofy garments I get when done. On a whim, I searched for blocking acrylic, and your excellent site came up. Amazing! I am going to block the sweater I just finished.

BeadKnitter said...

Mandy,
First of all, hair conditioner does nothing for acrylic. Acrylic yarn is not made of animal hair. It's made of a special plastic.

I would not bother washing it by hand. The whole point of using acrylic yarn is that it can be thrown in the washer and dryer. I wash mine on the gentle cycle in warm water and tumble dry on the permanent press cycle. This usually softens up the crustiness of acrylic quite nicely and fluffs it up a bit.

I usually steam block before washing, but if the project is visibly soiled I will wash it first, and then block.

Beadknitter

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! I am a fairly new knitter and your response is extremely helpful. I will steam block it and then wash it. I hope it stays flat! :) Thank you so much!!

-Mandy

Nikki8D said...

Thanks for the wonderful tutorial, I'm going to give it a go with the blanket I just made. One question, do I steam the yarn until it's barely damp, quite damp, or steam it until it's wet? (If that makes any sense with such a subjective term as dampness!)

BeadKnitter said...

Hi Nikki8D,
I am continually amazed at the questions folks can come up with on this subject. Things I never thought about. For instance, I never noticed how wet the fabric is when I steam block. I don't think it's an accurate determination for whether the item is blocked or not. You steam for just a couple seconds or so until the fabric is smoothed out. Give it a try and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Beadknitter

Nikki8D said...

Thanks for the quick response, I think for some first time steamers, we over think it, worried that we'll kill it rather than steam it!

Maratree said...

Thank you so much for your blocking acrylic info. I've learned so much from this, and am continually learning as I read your responses in the comments section.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for this information!

Because an aunt told me I could only wet block acrylic projects, I only did that. But honestly, I never noticed any difference: It looked the same afterwards as it did before.. Ok, but not perfect :-(

Then my mother secretly stole a scarf I made and steam blocked it (sister's rivalry) and it turned out looking awesome. The details now really show, the fabric is much smoother and it has shape without strange bulbs!

So I was looking for some evidence that steam blocking can be done with acrylic. And I found proof! Now I can tell my aunt she was wrong :-p And now I now how I can do it without mother's help :-)

*I am sorry for the spelling mistakes, I am Dutch*

Anonymous said...

This really helps. I killed the blanket which was my intent....it makes soft & silky, perfect for baby. I was just hoping it would stay that way!

Julia said...

I'd just like to add my thanks. I love tunisian crochet fabric, but hate the curl, and can't afford nice wool yarn. Now I can block acrylic I foresee a lovely new coat for winter!

the mad LOLscientist said...

Wowie, thanks! from a frustrated lace knitter who's too poverty-stricken to afford "nice" yarn!

I made a triangular shawl last year out of good old Red Heart Super Saver and have had it stretched out over the back of my couch for months, in hopes that it will "stretch out of shape" enough so I can actually wear it (although I am enjoying looking at it in the mean time, I must say).

Thanks to you, tomorrow I'm taking it outside, spreading it out on the picnic table, and steaming the hell out of it!

Photo to acrylic said...

It's a very useful post.

Samantha said...

Thanks so much for this info. I just finished a baby blanket made with Bernat baby blanket yarn (new version) and was wondering how to make it "square" since it was done on the diagonal. Some people said to just wash & dry as per the label instructions and it will take shape. I don't see how. Now I found your method and I will be trying it soon! Thanks so much for posting this. It's been a tremendous help!!

Jadzaea said...

I know this is an old post, but still wanted to say THANK YOU! :) Being on a tight budget since having my son means I knit in acrylic more often than not now (and when I make stuff for my son, because why would I put a one-year-old in a hand wash garment?) and I had to find a way to block for Christmas gifts this past year.

I made a bulky weight scarf with a lace panel, and steam blocking worked beautifully! I have to ask my friend if it held up in the wash, but it looked great when I was done blocking. Now I'm designing a Harry Potter House Scarf that's knit flat, and it's curling like crazy. I will vanquish the curl with my steamer!

Courtney said...

This post is the first I've found (about blocking acrylic) that actually sounds sure about itself and doesn't make me worry that things won't turn out okay. I recently started knitting a blanket in acrylic that I wanted to block when finished and I had almost given up hope on that possibility until seeing your pictures of it truly working! Thank you!

oddmentandtweak said...

Thanks very much for this posting! It's nice to know that I didn't spend 2 weeks knitting an acrylic scarf only to be stopped by blocking. I have a quick question: do I need to weave in the ends before blocking? My scarf has stripes on the wrong side, and I'm seaming up the edges eventually. If the blocking won't have any effect on the ends sticking out, I suppose I'll just leave them as they will be hidden inside the tube of the scarf anyways. What do you think?

Thanks for your help!!

BeadKnitter said...

oddmentandtweak,
I would weave in the ends for no other reason than to make sure those edge stitches don't loosen up and create holes. But then, I'm anal about my knitting.

Grama Colleen said...

I'm so glad I came upon this info on blocking acrylic!I started a "prototype" of the Semele Shawl on RAV in an acrylic yarn by Pingouin that was given to me. It was only going to be a practice swatch until I realized it is very nice yarn. I've decided to make the entire shawl; but, I was also under the myth that I couldn't block it anyway so, alas...what to do??? Thanks again...I trust my shawl will be lovely and I will block it according to your instructions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I will try it. I wet the baby blanket twice, pinned it and let dry and it keeps curling.

Vi said...

Thank you! I just got done knitting my first dress, and I'm too poor to use anything other than acrylic blends. I was afraid the curled edges were going to stay that way forever. Then I attacked it with a steam iron. It looks even more gorgeous than I could have hoped! Thank you!

Pinky said...

Thankyou thankyou thankyou from all the way over in England. I had ummed and R'ed about whether to block a crochet bag I am currently making and I have a big beaming smile on my face because I know that now, I can steam block and work it to the desired size (the gauge is about 4 clusters off in width to what is needed and therefore the pattern is less visable). With a bit off tlc my bag will look amazing!

Anonymous said...

I am about to purchase a steamer and am considering the Jiffy 2000 - any other recommendations? Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this. I can only knit in acrylic because I'm allergic to animal fibers. This post is going to help me make my Christmas presents look so much better.

I've been knitting for about a year and this will be my first big handing out of gifts. Now they'll look nice and smooth.

Now for the question. I've gotten some of those foam(eva) blocks I've seen recommended elsewhere for blocking. Can I steam using those for a base or will they melt?

BeadKnitter said...

"Now for the question. I've gotten some of those foam(eva) blocks I've seen recommended elsewhere for blocking. Can I steam using those for a base or will they melt?"

Shouldn't hurt them. I know lots of people that use them for that exact purpose and no one has told me they wish they hadn't. ;-)

Baba Rose said...

Hi from Ireland!

Thank you for this! I'm so pleased I found this! I am doing a few projects in acrylic at the moment and needed to know how to block them.

My question is; I have a relatively basic steam iron but I do have a multiuse steamer. The steamer is one of those ones that cleans, deftosts freezers etc, apparently it does have a facility to use it as a clothes steamer, though I've never tried it. Would this or the iron be better?

Di DeRoch said...

Thank you so much for the tutorial. I have however a big question to ask.

I have knitted an afghan that looks like a log cabin quilted pattern, and consists of 6 separate panels that you sew together to make the afghan. I started the project in the spring, and worked for a month and put it away for the summer. I started up again a few weeks ago and finally got the final panel done. Well, when I laid them out to prepare them to be sewn together, I noticed the first two panels I did in the spring are smaller then the panels that I had just recently done. There is about a 3 inch difference on top and on the side from the other 4 panels. I obviously knitted them tighter then the new ones. Can blocking stretch my panels to match my remaining 4 panels? I really don't want to have to redo them, as Christmas is coming and I need to make my Christmas gifts. Thank you so much for the reply.

BeadKnitter said...

@Di DeRoch,
Yes, you can block the smaller panel out. 3 inches difference is fairly small in this case. Pin the panel out to the size you want and steam it gently.

Beadknitter

Di DeRoch said...

Thank you so much for the reply. I was really freaking out, thinking I would have to redo them.... I will try the steam tonight after I get home from work.

Marie said...

How far away from the acrylic yarn would you hold the steam iron? I've got a scarf that has a 2 inch seed stitch edge and 5 inch stockinette stitch in the center. It's curling really bad.

Thank you for your time.

WhovianEvelyn said...

Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge with us.
I have one question though... I've never had that kind of crumples in my works with acrylic wool; I mean I use it all the time, since it's the cheapest and the one that resists the washing machine best ;D
But I've never had any crumples or such. My stuff always turned out quite smooth... How come?

BeadKnitter said...

@Marie: Close enough for the steam to go into the fabric, but don't touch the fabric with the iron.

Beadknitter

BeadKnitter said...

@WhovianEvelyn: Perhaps you don't cram the finished pieces into the bottom of your knitting bag like I do when I'm making a garment?

Beadknitter

Tinie Le said...

Hi, I hope you could help as i just finish the sweater for my dad and i'm stuck at blocking part. Lots of people recommend to keep the blocked piece on the blocking board for 2 days. Some just let's it dry after steaming then take it out. Which is the right way to go?

BeadKnitter said...

Hi Tinie Le,
2 days!!? Why on earth would it need to be that long? After it's dry, of course.

Beadknitter

Tinie Le said...

Thank you :D okayyy way to go!!!

Stacy Jozwiak said...

Hi! I want to comment as well and say that I am so glad you put this out there for us. I actually referred to this in the summertime and made a needle roll for someone that I killed kind of on purpose and it was really nice to roll up for her.
But now I have to steam block a headband I made, so it surely has to keep its elasticity. I'm just afraid of hovering too long over the fabric. I actually don't think I patted the fabric the first time around with the roll. So I should hover a few seconds over an area and then pat it and then move on and then just let it completely dry, right? I'm just afraid I won't do it enough and it will still curl.

BeadKnitter said...

Stacy Jozwiak,
Right. Just a little steam. You'll be able to see when you've done enough.

Beadknitter

Nina said...

Could you do a video tutorial on this?
that would be so kind of you :)

BeadKnitter said...

Nina,
I currently do not own equipment for making videos nor a desire to do so, so no.

crochetambassador said...

Thank you for posting this. I just had a conversation with some yarnistas who insisted that steaming ruins the yarn fibers.

I've always had great results steaming acrylic.

Anonymous said...

How can I steam block a hat?

BeadKnitter said...

Anonymous asked "How can I steam block a hat?"

What kind of hat? Yes, it matters.

Beadknitter

Anonymous said...

Two questions: I was about to ask the same question about a knit hat! Is there any need to block an acrylic baby hat, baby mittens, or baby booties? These are knitted with ribbing, stockinette, and garter stitches. Because the edges are either ribbing or garter, there's no curling. Will blocking serve any purpose?

Also, if you wash an item prior to blocking, do you throw it in the dryer after washing......and then you block it??

Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

And what about a men's hat knitted on double pointed needles (so no seam) from Noro Silk Garden yarn. Block it or not? And if so, what's the best way to block a piece that can't be laid flat?

BeadKnitter said...

Dear Anonymous,
Sometimes I feel like you guys are trying to make this harder than it is. You asked:
"Is there any need to block an acrylic baby hat, baby mittens, or baby booties?"

You don't have to block anything you don't want to. If you feel baby stuff is too small to need it or whatever, then don't block it.

The purpose of blocking has little to do with curling. It is to finish the fabric. It evens the stitches out and makes the garment look more professional.

Do you sew? When sewers are making a garment they press every piece as they go along, pressing seams, seam allowances, curves, points, etc, to give it a professional look. Blocking is the same thing for knitting.

That being said, I steam block EVERYTHING. That doesn't mean everyone has to do that. That is just my personal choice.

If I've got something 3-dimensional, I will make a form to block it on. I've been known to stuff baby booties with tissue to shape them and then block with steam.

I have a styrofoam head I use for blocking seamless hats. Before I had the head I used bowls, or blocked the hats flat being careful not to steam in a crease.

I block tams on a dinner plate of appropriate size.

I block before seaming just like a seamstress presses pieces before sewing a garment or quilt together.

I rarely wash before blocking. I can think of only 2 times I've washed first and that was because something got spilled on the fabric and I was afraid the steam might make the stain permanent.

If you're looking for that professional finish, then you need to block. If you don't care, then don't do it. It's up to you.

Beadknitter

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Your response was very helpful!!

Katie B. said...

Thank god for this! I was commissioned to make a sweater for someone, but they wanted the cheapest yarn possible. So acrylic it was. When I had to frog and restart when she asked for the next size up in the pattern, I discovered the next size up was hardly the next size up. So blocking will definitly be critical. I thought I would have to steam it, but it reliefs me significantly to hear from another knitter that it is indeed how to do it. Thank you so much for posting this!

Disaelfr said...

Thank you very much for posting this process. I found it very useful.

Natarsha Siebert said...

Hi

i just wanted to thank you so much for posting this valuable stuff and i found it through google. I'm from all the way in Helensville, Auckland, New Zealand :)

Unknown said...

I am trying to block an acrylic stockinette scarf with an intarsia pattern on the ends. I tried this method, but it didn't do anything. Steamed it using an iron on steam setting, about an inch above the fabric, for 20 minutes straight. The scarf still curls as soon as I take it off the blocking board. What am I doing wrong? Your tutorial doesn't say how I would know when I am done.

BeadKnitter said...

Dear Unknown,
I'm sorry, but blocking will not fix your problem. Stockinette stitch curls because of the way the fabric is made. It's a law of physics.

You can crochet or knit an edging on the scarf, or sew a lining to it to stop it. That's about it.

Anonymous said...

Great post, thanks so much! Do you have a link or reference for the pattern of the baby cardigan pictured? It's exactly what I've been looking for.

Anonymous said...

can i give you a virtual hug?! i'm sitting here with my first ever sweater almost finished and panicking as i look at this acrylic wrinkly curly mess and despairing. thank you SO MUCH for this.i now have hope! :-)

Jo said...

Hello! I am grateful that I have found your answer on that topic. I will be using the steam setting on an iron
(duct tape to cover eventual leaks!) but I am puzzled when it comes to the blocking board... I have none!
I have the blocking wires and pins.
Will a thick carpet do the work? And because I am using an iron, maybe an extra protective layer would be good. I read that you recommend to put a sheet under the acrylic piece, could a towel be a good choice too? what about plastic bag for leaking iron?

Beadknitter said...

Hi Jo,
My daughter and I use the rug in the living room covered with a sheet when we want to block something really big. A towel would work for smaller things. I've used my bed on occasion. For a very inexpensive blocking board, a lot of knitters are using the interlocking foam mats. You can get them just about anywhere-Target, Kmart, Walmart, Shopco, even some home improvement stores have them. For a pic of what I'm talking about, go here: http://www.amazon.com/Sell-Mats-Anti-Fatige-Interlocking-Flooring-Set/dp/B0014H9Y6O/ref=sr_sp-atf_title_1_3?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1366296740&sr=1-3&keywords=foam+mats+interlocking

As for the leaking iron, I wouldn't worry about it. Water won't hurt the rug. Duct tape, though is always a good idea-no matter what it's used for. ;-)

Beadknitter

tzellner said...

Hi,

I am very new to blocking anything at all, so I have two questions...

one is how do I know if I killed it while it is pinned to the board? and two how do I know if it has been steamed enough? I am making a baby blanket for a friend and am mostly blocking it to even it out and stretch it a little. I tried a method that had me spray with water and then let dry but as soon as I started pulling pins it shrunk in again! now I saw your blog and thought I would try this, I have a steam iron.

I just want it to stay strong and soft for the baby so please help!
thanks

Beadknitter said...

tzellner,
Just read the article and the comments and both your questions will be answered.

Beadknitter

KyleAnn said...

I am a long-time knitter and "dabbling" designer. I have always blocked "natural" fibers but haven't dont much with acrylic. Having said that, I am designing a summer "tee" top out of a lovely acrlic, with lots of cables. I did an internet search for blocking acrylic and your blog was the first on the list. Can't wait, now, to get it finished and on my blocking board! Thank you for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

Your tutorial is encouraging, clearly written and the accompanying photos are perfect illustrations! I will use your method on the lacy baby blanket I'm finishing up--as so many people commented, babies' things are great in these plastic-based, machine wash, fast-drying yarns. And thanks for helping to give acrylic real street credit in the knitting community!

Lee Shin said...

spot on with this write-up, i like the way you discuss the things. i'm impressed, i must say. i'll probably be back again to read more. thanks for sharing this with us.

Lee Shin
www.trendone.net

mskitty89128@yahoo.com said...

I have just started knitting again, and trying to learn all over again. I never blocked anything, but now only am working in aycrilic. My question is I'm doing a baby afgan, should I block that after I'm done, and are there any special washing instructions I need to send with it when I give it to my grandaughter, also baby hat's and booties? thanks so much!

Beadknitter said...

Dear mskitty89128@yahoo.com,
I, personally, would block the blanket, but as I've said before, I block pretty much everything. I would block baby hats and booties too.

I would make a little tag with washing instructions on it and attach it to the gift. I do this with every gift I knit. Use the instructions on the yarn label.

Beadknitter

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! I've been knitting since I was 5 (19 now) and was never taught about blocking, now I am making a scarf for a very special person and was distraught that it was curling so badly! What is your Ravelry name? I would love to follow you there as well!
-MercyGraduate (ravelry name)

jennabenda said...

Thank you so much for writing this! I had seen so much advice about not blocking acrylic yarn that I almost left my project alone, but the result of steam blocking this baby blanket is BEAUTIFUL. I never would have done it without finding your post. You have helped me create the perfect gift. Thank you.

Brianna Herber said...

I'm so glad I found your post! I usually only knit with acrylic yarn, and I've only tried blocking it once with a blanket I did. I was in a SUPER rush and may as well have just not done it because of the poor job I did. I'm doing another blanket, and I'm going to do it right this time!

I have a bit of a tedious question. I'm doing a log cabin blanket, but instead of doing a different stripe with each rotation, I'm doing a full border of color three times. A kind of square target if you will. Anyway, because of the process of knitting this blanket, there are a lot of bound off edges, making different parts of the blanket stiffer than others. With a finished square, should I block by pinning the outer border, OR start in the center square, block, move the pins to the next color's perimeter, block, and so on.

I'm sorry if that's confusing. I only ask because I wonder if blocking with pins JUST along the outer border will only stretch and straighten the outer color because the square has those other stiff borders throughout.

Are you thoroughly confused?? If you can lend some advice I'd be eternally grateful! Thank you!

water_moon said...

I wish THIS showed up first in results for "blocking scraves" since I was about to dispare that the arylic scarf I'd knitted for my daughter (first time since I was 6 to knit something, I mostly crochet) was ruined! since the edges are so curled that the 5 inch wide piece was thinner looking than a wrapping paper tube. Now there's hope :)

Rainy said...

I knew it! I just tried wet blocking an acrylic scarf and when I pulled it off the towel it just curled back into itself. I was pissed! I've run out of time and will have to give the scarf away as it is, but now I know how to do acrylic... Thank you!

Aissa said...

Nice post.Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very informative! So happy to be given a privilege to post a comment here.

aissa
www.joeydavila.net

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post! I'm knitting a Knit, Swirl! Sweater with wool ease, which is mostly acrylic and a bit of wool. It essentially has ridges, created by stripes of stockinette and reverse stockinette, if I steam the garment leaving the ridges a bit puffed, will it stay like that? Thank you!

Christina said...

I am knitting my first sweater, and because it's such uncharted territory, I decided to go with the (much!) more affordable acrylic option because if it turned out horribly, I didn't want to be out the $$ PLUS the time. Anyway, thank you SO much for the time and thought you put into this article. It was very helpful and informative, and I'm looking forward to blocking my finished sweater properly!

rainy_days said...

Thank you for another wonderful write-up. Look forward for your next helpful work.

www.n8fan.net