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?
- Steam I choose to use a garment steamer. Some use an iron with a steam setting. If you use an iron, it is important that the iron NEVER touches the fabric. If it does, it will burn and you will end up with a shiny, flattened item with loss of stitch definition. There are times when this may be the desired effect, but usually it isn’t.
- Blocking boards
- Blocking pins-no rust
- Your item. I’m using the scarf from the pattern Glacier. The stitch pattern creates a knit look ribbing on one side and a beautiful texture on the other. It also causes the scarf to curl. Blocking is necessary to remove the curl.
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!
Glacier scarf before blocking
Glacier scarf after blocking
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.