One of my favorite 100% acrylic yarns to use is Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice, a great aran/heavy worsted weight yarn. With its bright colors and easy care wash-ability, it is often my yarn of choice for baby blankets, throws and hat and scarf sets. Even my kitty loves Vanna’s Choice! Not everything you make with this yarn will need blocking. However, when you do make an acrylic item that would benefit from blocking, don’t fear.
Blocking acrylic can be done and is easy. To block acrylic, you must subject the fiber to heat in the form of steam. Some call it KILLING ACRYLIC, and in many ways, this is accurate in that you do permanently alter the fabric. The heat “melts” the fibers together to create the blocked shape. If this is done properly and accurately, you will not notice anything more than a beautifully finished item. So how do you do this?
First, what do you need?
Pin the item to the blocking boards. This is the time to stretch it to shape, open up lace and even out the edges. For this scarf, I just want to remove the curl. I’m not interested in stretching or opening up the stitches. I like the ribbing and want to keep it as is.
Attack with steam. Keep the iron or the garment steamer head about 1/4 to 1/2 inch away from the fabric. Work the steam over the entire item and use your fingers to make adjustments if necessary (do not place your fingers in direct steam, it will burn you). I found it is NOT necessary to soak the garment. Just damp is fine. For this scarf, I steamed the entire scarf but spent additional time on the edges as that is my area of concern.
Allow to dry, mostly, then repeat on the other side. I had a couple of sections that did get soaked. I didn’t worry about them drying. When the damp parts were mostly dry, about 20 minutes or so, I flipped it over and repeated. As you can see by the photos, the scarf is laying pretty flat and there was no need to pin. Giving it a second attack of steam on the other side will finalize the blocking. Now allow it to fully dry and you are done!
Your finished product will now look like a polished and beautiful handmade work of art!
Remember, blocking or killing acrylic is permanent. There will be items you don’t want to block as you wont want them to lose their stretch-ability. You won’t want to do this on something that is crocheted with negative ease. The sample scarf has a ribbing stitch pattern. It is purely decorative and not necessary for stretching. The coordinating hat also uses a similar ribbing stitch pattern however it is necessary for the hat to have give and stretch for proper fit. I would not want to block the hat as I would not want to remove this necessary design feature of the hat.
Blocking shouldn’t be something to fear but you do need to be aware that it does permanently change the crocheted item. Therefore, go slow. You can always block some more but if you do too much, you could end up with something you hadn’t planned for.
Have you ever had a pattern tell you to hdc-whb or whb-hdc? Huh? Half double crochet worked in the horizontal bar (also called ‘back bar’) is a pretty easy stitch and creates beautiful ribbing. After watching the video, take some time to work a few rows of hdc-whb and you’ll feel like an expert crocheter!
I start almost all of the hats I make with a magic circle. It’s a fantastic way to start anything that is worked in the round if you want to be able to control the amount of “holey space” in the middle. With the magic ring, you can pull the hole as tight as you physically can leaving no gaping hole in the middle of your hat. If a pattern suggests you chain 2 then work a round in the second chain, replace it with the magic ring and you’ll be real pleased with the results.
I’ve seen this method called the magic ring, adjustable circle, magic loop and many other similar combinations. Whatever you want to call it, it is a great way to start a hat or any other item that is worked in the round.
1)Create ring and position with working yarn on top.
2) Insert hook into ring and pull up a loop.
3) Secure with a chain stitch.
5) Continue with pattern.
Tip-When I complete the earflap, I leave a long tail and rather than work the ends in, I work it into the braid. Two less ends to work in!
RS=Right Side WS = Wrong Side
1) For 10” braids, cut 11, 22” pieces of yarn. Fold in half.Insert hook from WS to RS of earflap and pull the yarn through. (I find it easiest to use a large hook, size J or larger)
2) Pull the ends of yarn through the loop and tighten. Make sure you even out and tidy up any loose strands.
3) Braid, tie off and trim ends. Repeat on opposite side making sure braids are the same length.