How to Wet Block Crochet Afghan Squares (and Knit too!)

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links.

The Moogly Afghan Crochet-a-long has everyone working in squares! And whether you’re following along or not, if you’ve made an afghan square, you may have been left wondering why your project doesn’t look picture perfect. The answer is blocking! And here’s one way to do it!

How to Wet Block Afghan Squares - it makes SO much difference in the finished projects! Learn how with this tutorial - it's way easier than you think!

Before I tell you how to wet block a square, let me tell you why! Blocking relaxes and resets the stitches, setting them just where you want them. It gives the blocked item a more finished, professional look. And it gets the item to just the right size, stretching and relaxing the pieces to be right where you want them – important when you’re making an afghan and want all the stitches the same size!

There are a couple different methods for blocking, and everyone has their favorites. You can do wet blocking, which I’ll show you below, or steam blocking – there’s a fantastic tutorial for that at Crochet Kitten! If you have a steamer, you can try one block with steam and one block with wet blocking, and decide which one you like best. You could even try killing the squares – but that will reduce the springiness and loft of the fabric, and it’s totally permanent – I wouldn’t recommend it for afghan squares.

If you don’t have a steamer, or want to preserve maximum loft in your yarn, you’ll want to try wet blocking!

How to Wet Block Afghan Squares

  1. Set up your Supplies and Work Area: You’ll need rust-proof pins, a ruler or tape measure, and something to pin to. This could be a bath towel, a clean bit of carpet (in a low traffic area!), or you can use interlocking foam squares that are made for the purpose.I purchased this Knitter’s Block kit from my local yarn store, Knit & Knot! If you don’t have a LYS, you can find blocking mats on Amazon, where you can also pick up these Clover Fork Blocking Pins. I cannot say enough good things about these pins – they make blocking SO much easier!How to Wet Block Afghan Squares - it makes SO much difference in the finished projects! Learn how with this tutorial - it's way easier than you think!You’ll need to set up an area that’s at least 14″ x 14″ so you have room to set up your 12″ block with extra left over.How to Wet Block Afghan Squares - it makes SO much difference in the finished projects! Learn how with this tutorial - it's way easier than you think!
  2. Prep the Square: This is my Anticipation Mystery Square (Block #1 from the CAL), before I did anything to it – I didn’t even try to smooth it out for this photo, just let it do it’s thing. Not terrible, but it could use some work!How to Wet Block Afghan Squares - it makes SO much difference in the finished projects! Learn how with this tutorial - it's way easier than you think!So for step 2, take the square to the sink and get it really soaked with cold water. Then squeeze out as much of the water as you can, gently – no wringing or stretching! You might not be able to tell, but this this is super wet now! To speed up drying time, you can press it in a bath towel – though that can squish the details a bit, so don’t overdo it.How to Wet Block Afghan Squares - it makes SO much difference in the finished projects! Learn how with this tutorial - it's way easier than you think!
  3. Block the First Edge: Set the ruler along one side, and use your pins to pin it in a straight line, exactly 12″ wide (or however big you want your square to be).How to Wet Block Afghan Squares - it makes SO much difference in the finished projects! Learn how with this tutorial - it's way easier than you think!
  4. Block the Second Edge: For something like a thread snowflake or doily, where you want sharp, tight edges and points, you’d move to the opposite side. For an afghan square, move to the left or right, keeping the corner at a 90 degree angle.How to Wet Block Afghan Squares - it makes SO much difference in the finished projects! Learn how with this tutorial - it's way easier than you think!
  5. Block the Rest of the Square: Keep going around the square, using the ruler and pins to create as perfect a square as you can.How to Wet Block Afghan Squares - it makes SO much difference in the finished projects! Learn how with this tutorial - it's way easier than you think!
  6. Finger Block the Details: Not every square will have surface details, but for those that do, you can often move them into place with just your fingers, as I did below. If they are being stubborn, a few more pins to hold them in place will work. If you look closely at the photos above and below, you’ll see the difference!
    How to Wet Block Afghan Squares - it makes SO much difference in the finished projects! Learn how with this tutorial - it's way easier than you think!
  7. Let It Dry: Walk away for about 24 hours – more or less depending on humidity. Just let it air dry!
  8. Unpin and Done! That’s all there is to it!How to Wet Block Afghan Squares - it makes SO much difference in the finished projects! Learn how with this tutorial - it's way easier than you think!

 

And here’s another idea sent in by Moogly reader Jody Wentzel – and it’s a good one! Thanks Jody!

I was trying to figure out how to block, and what would work best for me.  I watched a couple of videos, but didn’t want to have to go to the trouble of measuring, etc. to make everything straight.

One day right after I had wrapped a bunch of presents, it came to me.  The grid that is on the back of a lot of wrapping paper would work great so people wouldn’t have to measure.

Ok, but the paper would get wet.  How to solve that problem?  My solution:  The cheapest clear shower curtain from Walmart, about $2.

So here is what I do.  I use a cheap puzzle mat (seen on youtube video, not my idea), cover it first with the wrapping paper grid, then with the shower curtain, pin those down, and then pin my project in the middle and spray them with water, blot, and then let it dry.

It’s so easy to get straight lines that way!  No, you can’t use steam or “kill” the acrylic, but it’s an easy method nonetheless.

Have you tried wet blocking afghan squares before? What about other items you’ve made? I use the same technique for baby sweaters and other items – often without the pins, just wetting and shaping them by hand. I find it makes a world of difference in how the finished item looks, and it’s way easier than you might think! If I hadn’t been stopping to take photos, I would’ve been done in under 5 minutes. I hope you can use this technique to make your own crochet and knit squares picture perfect too.

Thanks for reading! Get Moogly on your favorite social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest and Tumblr, and sign up for the Newsletter so you don’t miss a thing!
Print Friendly

Comments

  1. 1

    Susie says

    I know this is about squares but I have another blocking question. I recently made a pair of adorable crochet cowboy boots. When I was done, they’re cute, but for someone who paid for them and the just didn’t look professional enough to me because some of the stitches seemed to have minds of their own. Can you “block” something like booties?

    • 2

      Tamara Kelly says

      Absolutely Susie! Get the booties wet, squeeze out what you can by hand (gently!) and stuff them with plastic grocery bags, shaping as you go. Let them dry, et voila! :D

      • 3

        Vanessa says

        I wet paper towel and stuff the boots/slippers and shape them. Then let them dry until the paper towel is completely dry, about 24 hours. Works wonderfully.

  2. 4

    RB says

    What kind of yarn did you use here? I know that people tend to have Very Strong Opinions about whether or not you can block acrylic yarn, In your opinion, would this method work for acrylic too?

    Thank you!

    • 5

      Debra bell says

      The only kind of yarn I find this doesn’t work well on is wool or heavy wool blends. I have always blocked this way.

      • 7

        says

        Wasn’t sure you could wet block acrylic. Thought you’d need steam, i.e., heat, for the fiber to relax. I just knitted the Lichen Shawl (it’s on Ravelry) with Red Heart Super Saver, put it in the washer and dried it with a fabric softener sheet. This softened and loosened the fabric very nicely, but the ends are still curly. I’d rather wet block them because I don’t want to accidentally kill the fiber with a steam iron.

        • 8

          Tamara Kelly says

          Steam might be a good choice for curly ends, but you do want to be careful. The link to Crochet Kitten really is excellent for steam blocking! :)

  3. 9

    Tricia says

    I use a similar method but I eyeball the measurements and rely on my seaming to get things together. Instead of running the project under water I pin it and then spray it with water from a spray bottle. It’s worked really well for me. Thanks for the tips, I definitely want some blocking squares and those pins are awesome!

  4. 11

    Lori thompson says

    Thanks so much for this help information, Tamara! I’m going to go look for one of those blocking kits rightnow! Just a quick question. When you wash the afghan, after it’s all been completed, will the blocks lose their shape again, or would you have to maybe block the entire afghan?

    • 12

      Tamara Kelly says

      The square-ishness should be held in place with the other blocks and border. The little details you might want to use a misting spray and reset once it’s back on the bed. :)

  5. 13

    karen says

    I blocked the trim on this square and it forms perfect little hearts. I can’t figure out how to post a picture to show you though.

    • 14

      Tamara Kelly says

      I got the hearts too, though I suspect they’d have been more bouncy if I didn’t chain as tightly. :) It was a fun surprise though that I didn’t see until I blocked it!

  6. 15

    phyllis says

    my wonderful hubby bought me this one year for Christmas and I love ithttp://www.yarn.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/product.detail/_/Blocking-Board/productID/ebf1267e-57c1-4c95-8e58-c335c570ce2c/categoryID/5f761cd5-2dae-4672-acec-d2b56a5d2d70/

    It is big and a pain to store but on the other hand it has all the measurements right on it and you can block a lot at one time.

  7. 16

    Juanita says

    I originally created my blocking board for snowflakes but it is big enough for afghans squares also. I had some of those huge storage bags like the Zip Lock brand kitchen baggies. These had the zipper lock and a cutout handle above the “zipper”. I cut a piece of left over foam insulation to fit tightly inside the bag. I then took freezer paper and traced the blocking designs for different sizes of snowflakes on the paper. After wrapping the piece of insulation with the freezer paper, I squeezed it into the storage bag and zipped it shut. It is easily carried and stored ( I slip it behind a never-closed door). Both sides of it can be used, I guess, by putting an item on each side and hanging it by the handle so both sides can get air. Hadn’t thought of doing that but it would probably work as long as the items were pinned well enough to hold their shape in a vertical position.

  8. 19

    Pat says

    I’ve never blocked squares before joining. If you block them and then later wash the item, say an afghan, will it return to the blocked shape or revert back to the pre-blocked shape of the squares? I guess I’m asking if the blocking is permanent? I can’t imagine blocking an entire afghan after every washing would be possible!

  9. 21

    Deb says

    I printed a 1 inch grid from excel and slid it and some foam core into a very large zip lock. It’s great and very small to store.

  10. 22

    Kaysiebee says

    Thanks for the info on blocking. I use a large sheet of insulation foam cut in half. However, I have to mark it myself. As to wetting, I spray each block before and after I pin it. It does make a difference. Love your newsletter and soon hope to catch up with the CAL blocks.

  11. 23

    Donna Etheridge says

    I find a yard of gingham is perfect for blocking. You can buy gingham with a one inch block pattern which eliminates all measuring and makes it easy to get sharp corners. Because it is cotton, you have the option to steam block or wet block.

  12. 24

    Stacy Acevedo says

    Hello. Stupid question here: can you turn on the ceiling fan to speed up the drying process? What about using an oscillating or box fan? Or the cold setting on the blow dryer? Goodness, I sound impatient, huh? :). Thanks! ~Stacy

    • 25

      Tamara Kelly says

      I think that would work! Even hot on a consumer grade hair dryer should be fine – a lot cooler than an iron, but might help relax it just a bit. :)

  13. 26

    Laurel Vee says

    I have an old cardboard cutting board that I used for pinning patterns to fabric before cutting the pieces. This works great for blocking because it is ruled and all the measurements are there.

  14. 28

    kait davies says

    I’m just learning to block, and have been looking at so many ways to do it. I understand the jist of it. But I was planning on making your chevron scarf into a maxie dress and it says to block it at the end. My question is how would you block it? Pin down where the points are, to make it the zigzag shape? and if possible would you be able to put up a ‘second part’ to blocking for chevron/zigzag patterns.

    • 29

      Tamara Kelly says

      Blocking chevrons, or anything with a specific shape (stars, squares, circles, etc) means pinning them into the shape desired. So for chevrons, you’d pin the points up and down as the pattern goes, so that it dries with nice sharp points. Does that help?

  15. 30

    Ellis says

    I use those floor mats for kids’ playrooms that also join together but are 24 inches square and bought ruler tape to stick on them for measuring. Works pretty well and the mats were less than $20 for a set of four.

  16. 35

    Jessica D says

    This is a wonderful tutorial! I’m making a granny square blanket as a Christmas gift and this will most definitely be handy!

  17. 42

    Tabitha Rex says

    I recently wet blocked my first item & loveddddd it! So much better then pinning and steaming, etc, etc…….

  18. 45

    Cori says

    I love love love your blog. I have learned more in the last monthish of following you than in the 15 or so years I’ve been crocheting. Thank you technology, right?

    So…I had never heard of blocking until this post. Should you (/can you) block anything you make: scarves, cowls, afghans, etc? And this might be a dumb question, but can you block circular items like cowls? I’ve recently been considering opening an Etsy shop and so obviously I want my stuff to look super professional and well made.

    • 46

      Tamara Kelly says

      Hi Cori! Wow, thank you so much! :D You can block just about everything… but it’s not always needed! If you’ve made a gauge swatch, you can block that and see if it’s made a difference. To block circular things, you can put them over a balloon (like a hat), plate (beret style), or lay them flat being careful not to create creases. The only time you really “have” to block is with lace, where blocking is needed to open up the stitch pattern and get it to it’s right size. :) Most hats and cowls don’t really need it though.

  19. 47

    says

    I just finished a bunch of solid grannys for my dream bag and have never blocked before. I swear I was just thinking about it and clicked on here and there it was. Just when I needed it. Great site, this has happened before. You have really helped my technique. I am just learning so I try to get all the help I can. You really do that here. Thanks!
    ~Crystal

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>