Blocking Acrylic Yarn with Steam
I quick tutorial on how easy it is to create beautifully blocked fabric for your knitting and crochet projects with Acrylic yarns.
You may have noticed that soaking and blocking in the sun doesn’t have quite the same effect with your acrylic yarns…
This is due to science
The structure and internal make up of the yarns differ. Acrylic is basically a plastic yarn so it cannot be treated the same way you would treat a natural fibre. A semi block can be achieved with acrylic yarns if you soak but it will never be as stunningly effective as that method is for natural fibre based yarns such as cotton or wool.
To achieve a good solid blocking process you need heat and water which equals…. STEAM!
Yup a simple steaming of your pinned blocks will give a great finish.
DO NOT TOUCH YOUR YARN WITH THE IRON
Before we start I cannot stress this highly enough – if you ‘press’ your work like your regular ironing you run a great risk of melting, yes I said melting, your finished piece. Don’t do this!
We start out with a curly, uneven mess of a block. This is natural and everyone starts here. Nothing comes off the needles or hooks perfectly shaped, even if Instagram seems to tell you this happen – IT DOESN’T!
Pin your pieces out on your blocking board, or ironing board, to the measurements required, making sure the straight edges are straight and even, and the curves are curved properly. If your gauge is just a little bit off so the piece is a little too small, you can stretch it out to where it’s supposed to be.
The change will be permanent once the blocking is complete.
Generally I will pin out my projects for stem the wrong way up. This protects my work in case my iron decides to throw a hissy fit and spit out nasty white or even worse grey/black lumps. This has happened in the past and I was devastated!
I will pin pieces out the right way up if there is a texture I don’t want to squish flat, like cables or twisted stitches as you will see in the photos for this tutorial. I’m blocking a herringbone pattern and don’t want to loose the definition of the stitch.
After pinning it out, you steam it, gently. I use my trusty steam iron and it works just fine. Make sure you hover over the garment.
I repeat….Do not touch the fabric with the iron or it will melt.
Do not over steam it either or you’ll kill it. While steaming I will gently tap the fabric with my fingers to smooth it out. That’s tap, not slide or smoosh. Sliding/smooshing your hand over it will cause the fabric to stretch where it shouldn’t.
If there are cables, give them a gentle pinch so they stand out a little bit more.
I mentioned don’t kill the acrylic, unless you mean to. ‘Killed’ acrylic means that the fabric has lost its’ elasticity as it has been overheated. Just steaming it a bit won’t kill acrylic.
Sometimes you may want to kill the fabric on purpose. Killed acrylic has a wonderful silky drape that is quite pleasant, and unique. I have on occasion killed some acrylic on purpose for just this reason. You can make wonderful pleated skirts this way and shawls are stunning with this technique.
The video below demonstrates how to ‘hover’, pin and measure you blocking using an ironing board and a basic household iron.