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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!
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
- 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!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.
- 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!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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Let It Dry: Walk away for about 24 hours - more or less depending on humidity. Just let it air dry!
- Unpin and Done! That's all there is to it!
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.