What is Blocking in Crochet, and how can it be done?Blocking is a term for when you wish to neaten, shape or 'finish' a piece of crocheted work to a certain size. It doesn't have to be done, but many people like to do it to square off things like granny squares, and it is also used on shawls and blankets. Up until now I have used various other methods of Blocking. Firstly I used a little chopping board with brass pins for my granny squares (below), however this was tricky as I needed to rearrange the pins regularly according to the size of square I was working on. This was cumbersome since I was using a pair of pliers and a hammer!
Another more traditional method is to pin out the work and hover a steam iron over it and leave to dry. I have done this on my ironing board and for larger pieces on a clean carpet or rug. Other people use foam mats which can be specially made for crocheters or the toy foam mats work just as well. Although this is the way forward for large works, this is not conducive to a relaxing afternoon session of crocheting Granny squares and so a Blocking board was the answer.
Should I invest in a Blocking board for Crochet?
What I love about the Millward Blocking Board is the quality of the board and it's flexibility. It's 30cm square and made of what appears to be a beech ply. Drilled with nearly 200 holes it comes with 12 dowels which enables you to block different sizes of Granny square. Squares can be blocked during their different stages of development, and there's room for several Granny projects to be pinned to the board at any one time. I know a lot of fellow crocheters like to make their squares in batches, maybe making all the centres first and then all then adding subsequent rows again in batches. So the blocking board allows you to stack the squares together in a pile, all being blocked to the same form before the next stage of your make.
This is particularly useful with an open pattern like the one above on the bottom right. This open design benefits from blocking after working to get it into the optimum shape before the next rows are added. I did find the dowels to have some rough edges, but these have improved the more I've used it, and I guess you could sandpaper the ends before use if you preferred. I also would have liked more dowels and have used upended crochet hooks on occasion for blocking larger work.
(above a stack of Grannies on the Blocking Board)
The board is a very attractive way thing, which I'm happy to have lying around mid project, and it kind of frames the work enabling you to consider the patterns and colour choices as you work.
Are there any downsides to Blocking Boards?
There are a few factors I had not considered, which have come to light now I've got a blocking board:
1. I actually use the join-as-you-go method when making my Crochet Blankets and Crochet Hot Water Bottle covers. This means that I would not actually not be able to block a very small square prior to it being joined, and with larger squares they need to be blocked before the final joining row.
2. The board is only just big enough to block the front of a hot water bottle cover and I ran out of dowels and so needed to use upended crochet hooks - you could easily make more dowels I would imagine.
3.If your Granny square has 'closed' corners the dowel won't fit through without quite a bit of poking (and you may not wish to open up the stitches in this way)
4. Larger pieces still need to be blocked on a foam mat or clean carpet as described above
I got my Millward Blocking Board online from Woolwarehouse. Click here if you would like to take a look at my crochet for sale at yay retro!
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