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What a great sense of accomplishment there is when a crochet project is finally completed! Though a relatively simple technique, blocking is what gives many projects a polished appearance. The process shapes and sets the design and smoothes the stitches into place. Here are some handy tips we've learned over the years about blocking:

First: You should always check the yarn label for any special care instructions. Lots of natural fibers, such as cotton, linen, and wool respond well to steam blocking. However, you shouldn't use steam or heat on mohair or angora. There are also many acrylics and some blends that shouldn't be blocked at all, especially with steam, because they might melt! If you're still unsure about how to block your project, try blocking a gauge swatch first to see what the result will be.

Second: You'll need rust-proof pins, fluffy towels, and a blocking board, which is a padded board made specifically for this technique. If you prefer, you can substitute a table, a bed, a carpeted floor, or any flat surface that you have padded adequately. Be sure to protect these surfaces from moisture with a layer of plastic bags or towels.

Now you're ready to choose your blocking method. There are three ways of blocking: cold blocking, wet blocking, and blocking with steam.

Cold Blocking is best for those fragile acrylics mentioned earlier. Shape your item on the board, holding it down with rust-proof pins, which are a must for any type of blocking. Cover your item with dampened bath towels, and when the towels are dry the project is blocked.

Wet Blocking works best on projects made with thread, such as doilies, coasters, or place mats. If the item is hand washable, use a mild soap or detergent and rinse it without wringing or twisting. Rolling the project in a succession of dry towels helps to absorb the excess moisture. After laying your project on a flat surface, gently smooth it into shape and pin it down. When it's dry, it's blocked.

Steam Blocking is great for lots of crochet projects, especially wool or wool blends, but be cautious not to steam items that can be damaged by heat. Start by turning the item inside out and then use rust-proof pins to shape it on a flat surface. Holding a steam iron or steamer just above your project, steam the piece thoroughly. Take care not to touch the iron to your crochet because this can flatten the stitches or scorch the yarn. Finally, leave the item in place until it's dry.

With these blocking techniques in mind, you're ready to give your crocheted projects a big finish!

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