I don’t know why, but every time I see any of these vintage ads with a male model in them, it makes me smile.
It could be the fact that most times, the sweater they are modeling would probably look better on a woman?
Or it could be the serious expression of yarn lust they are clearly wearing?
But, I think the real reason is that they are just so purely 70s from the shag hair to the orange color hazed photo filter.
I always wonder if the orange color is from age, or was everything just that color?
Interesting Fact:DuPont (see their little logo in the bottom right hand corner of the picture) created the first acrylic fibers in 1941 and trademarked them under the name Orlon (Dupont website). They have since moved on to producing Kevlar fabric and sold it’s fiber business to Koch Industries (Dupont).
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.
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.
After my motif is pinned to the board, I get my spray bottle with normal tap water.
Next, start spraying. Don’t stop until the whole piece is saturated.
Now that it’s completely wet, you need to wait for it to completely dry.
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.
Then get out some more water using a towel.
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.
Once dry, you can unpin and marvel in their shape and feel. So much softer than the scratchy acrylic you began with!
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!
My favorite way to block any project is with steam. It’s a fast, easy and clean way to get your project to the correct size, make it lay flat, or just make it softer. The tutorial below will show you the basic steps for blocking acrylic yarn with steam. I also have a full video tutorial available here.
I’m going to show two different uses for steam blocking in this tutorial:
1) how steam can make your project magically lay flat
2) how steam can help you achieve the correct size for your project.
First I will show you how steam can flatten out a curling project. Sometimes when crocheting, for whatever reason your project will curl on itself. Sometimes it’s because of the stitch you are using, or it can result from a tight gauge, or many other reasons. Whatever may be causing the curl, steam can be used to help relax the stitches.
In order to steam block you will need a few things.
1) a steam iron or garment steamer
2) a steam/water proof surface – you can use a blocking board, an ironing board, or a simple towel
3) rust proof pins
Important Note: The pictures below show me using my hands with the steam iron to make the swatch lay flat. This is done to show how the steam makes the piece lay flat (see the video for how this works out). You should pin down the pieces before putting steam on them so you do not burn yourself.
First, place your project on your steam/water proof surface and pin in place.
Next, get your steam iron or garment steamer and start steaming your project. Hold the iron about 1/2 and inch to an inch away from your project and make sure you don’t touch the iron directly on your project or you will “kill” it (which I will explain further below).
Keep steaming the project until it is laying flat. You will notice it will feel warm and slightly damp to the touch. It will also soften up considerably. So if you have a scratchy acrylic, steam blocking can make it much softer.
If you happen to touch the iron to the swatch, this is what will result. A flat, slightly melted shiny fabric. It is what is commonly called “killed acrylic” and sometimes it is desired because of the look it produces. If you want to kill your acrylic be careful not to hold the iron on the fabric too long so it doesn’t completely melt into goo. Remember, acrylic is essentially a form of plastic, so it will melt like it with too much heat.
The other use for steam blocking is getting your project to the correct size. This can be used in conjunction with getting your project to lay flat.
For example, you are making a garment and need it to measure a certain size to fit, or you are making an afghan and need all the blocks to measure exactly 12 inches on each side. Using steam and pins you can make these things happen.
You will need the same tools as before and also a measuring tape. To show you how much you can stretch a project with steam, I’m starting with a 5 inch block.
Once your project seems warm and damp all over (which means the steam got into all your stitches) allow the project to cool and dry completely before unpinning. You need it to cool and dry for it to hold it’s shape, so don’t get antsy and unpin right away.
If you notice your project isn’t holding it’s shape as you unpin, you might not have used enough steam. Don’t be afraid to re-pin and steam some more. It might take a couple of times steaming before you find how much steam you need to use to get your projects to hold. Once you get it though, it’s like riding a bike.
As you can see above, I got a whole 3/4 inch extra width on my swatch. Plus the steam made it very soft.
I’ll be added more ways to block in the coming weeks so check back to see if I’m covering a new way you’ve been wanting to learn about.
If you have any extra pointers about steam blocking I’d love to hear from you, or if you have a method you like better let me know below. I’d love to hear your feedback!