Tutorials & How-To's

Can you block acrylic yarn?

Yarn Snobs and nay-sayers will try and tell you that you cannot block acrylic yarn but I am here to tell you, from experience that this is rubbish. You can block acrylic yarn (and yarns with a high acrylic content) and make your garments look much better by doing so. With any knitted garment, blocking evens out your stitches and gives a much more professional finish to your work. Why shouldn’t your garments knitted in acrylic deserve the same treatment?

Follow either of these 2 methods to block your acrylic garment:

Method 1

  • Pin out your garment to the measurement you want using stainless steel (non-rust) pins.
  • (Optional) – squirt a bit of water over it to dampen (but not soak) it.
  • Set your steam iron to maximum (2 – 3 dot) setting blocking acrylic yarnwith steam setting ON.
  • Hold your iron as close to your garment as you dare without touching the garment with the iron – this is of paramount importance, you will melt the acrylic yarn if you touch it with the iron plate and this will wreck your garment and leave a horrible smelly sticky mess on your iron. Condsider yourself warned!
  • Hold the iron in that position for 3-5 seconds giving a good few bursts of steam.
  • Once you have gone over the entire garment steaming in this way, leave it to dry completely before removing the pins.

Method 2

  • Pin out your garment to the measurement you want using stainless steel (non-rust) pins.
  • Cover it with a wet towel (not dripping wet, give it a wring out before placing it over your garment – you want the water to soak into the yarn Image result for steam blockinga little but not completely soak it)
  • Turn your iron on to the highest setting (2 – 3 dots)
  • Place the iron down onto the towel and hold there for 3-5 seconds, lift it off and replace it down on another part of the garment and repeat.
  • Never slide the iron around the garment – keep lifting and holding down, lifting and holding down.
  • Once you have gone over the entire garment steaming in this way, leave it to dry completely before removing the pins.

It is impotant to note that ribbing should not be blocked as it may lose some of its elasticity from these methods of blocking.

If you are blocking a garment with garter stitch or cables, lie the garment face down on a towel with a thick-pile before blocking so that you do not flatten the stitches.

I highly recommend that you block a swatch before attempting to block a garment that you have spent hours knitting!

You can also permanently block acrylic yarn

Essentially, due to the synthetic make-up of acrylic yarn it is possible to permanently block the garment – also referred to as “killing” the yarn. This technique is used in the fashion industry (ever wondered why the acrylic cardigans you buy in the stores keep their exact shape after washing?) However, many people are reluctant to take this drastic step on their hand knits as it can give the acrylic yarn a naff sheen. I’d recommend, as always, testing on a swatch to see the effects on your yarn before delving in and killing your finished garment.

To permanently block your garment, follow the steps above but twice over. Or for twice as long – holding your iron over the garment for 10 seconds rather than 5, whichever of the 2 methods you used.

It is important to note that this will block the garment permanently and cannot be reversed. The garment will be permanently fixed in this position, and will remain so even through repeated washing in a washing machine, so if you mess up – you mess up permanently. You have been warned.

However, for many, not ever having to block a garment again is a real benefit and I think it is especially handy for permanently blocking kids wear for the ease of after-care. It’s also good for blocking shawls or scarves which you are giving as gifts to non-yarnies who look at you blankly when you try to tell them how to care for the 100% merino shawl which you’ve spent weeks knitting for them, which you have the inkling will one day find itself thrown into a 40o wash cycle along with the rest of their laundry and never look the same again.

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