Thursday, May 17, 2012

Meeting Highlights: Blocking and Finishing

With our May meeting we concluded a series of three meetings dedicated to garments.  Hilary lead us through the basics of blocking and seaming.  Here’s an example of her expertise.  This is the inside of a wool sweater with set-in sleeves that she crocheted.  If the seams are this difficult to detect inside the sweater, you can imagine how well they blend into the fabric on the outside.

Why block?  Blocking serves to set the stitches and shape your piece.  If your gauge is a little off, blocking can even out the differences.  Some yarns are not finished until they are blocked, the fibers needing moisture to bloom and attain final shape.

When most people think of blocking, they think of doilies pinned and stretched within an inch of their lives.  However, some crocheters don’t pin and stretch doilies, preferring a more natural look.  With a garment, you will always want to block as blocking can improve your edges and make seaming easier.

There are a variety of methods to use for blocking.  Wet blocking involves immersing your project in water and letting it soak before gently removing the water and laying it out.  Steam blocking involves holding a good quality steam iron a few inches above your project and letting the steam set the stitches.  [Caution:  not all irons are good steam producers].  There are a variety of Internet sources of information on blocking.  This site covers the different blockingproperties of different types of fibers.   You can go to and search for “blocking crochet” or “blocking knit” for some quick and to-the-point summaries on blocking techniques.

There are a varieties of stitch methods for seaming.  Here’s some points to remember:
  • When seaming top or bottom rows together, you can bring your thread through all four loops or just through the two inner-most loops.  The examples shown here include both methods; a contrasting color yarn was used to make the stitches stand out. 
  • It is important not to tug the thread too tightly; you want the seaming threads to have the same tension on them as the crocheted fabric has. 
  • Place the item you are seaming on a flat surface after every few inches of seaming to check that the seam will lay flat. 
  • Hilary prefers to use Clover’s Chibi bent tip needles (available at craft and yarn stores everywhere); the bent tip provides just a bit more control.
  • Blocking wires can make it easier to achieve straight edges when blocking. 
Hilary prefers to use the whip stitch, which is like a cork-screw going over-down-under-up as you work your way up the seam. 
Whip stitch back side
Whip stitch front side
When making baby sweaters, the pieces can be crocheted together using a slip stitch or a single crochet to the outside of the garment.  This type of seam can also be decorative.
Single crochet front side
Single crochet back side

The mattress stitch (no picture available) essentially is a butt join where you first catch a small section of the piece on the left and then a small section of the piece on the right; the thread snakes from side to side as it works up the seam

Hilary brought a lacy shawl to the meeting.  She has promised to send us pictures of the blocking process she will use to finish the project.  Those pictures will be added to this post at a later time.

Our next meeting will be June 9, 2012.  Julie will take us through the intricacies of filet crochet.