Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Blocking for The Edge

"Kitty Blanket" pinned to shape
on a blocking board.
Crocheted by Jodiebodie 2010.
Pattern: "Purr-fection" by Candi Jensen

Blocking is a useful technique for giving a neat, professional finish to crocheted items.

Don't just leave it until the end of your crocheted project!  It is also handy during the making of a project.

This is especially true of anything that is made in sections; for example, individual motifs or garment pieces such as sleeves, backs and fronts.

As I block my crocheted squares, here are my tips for giving a blanket that
'finished edge'!

Block pieces for uniform shapes and dimensions before stitching them together.  This is especially important for shapes that have different stitch and row counts along their joining edges.  Blocking before joining will give neater, more even seams in the long term.

In the case of a garment, pin pieces to match the dimensions of the pattern diagram(s) precisely.  Tesselated shapes like squares, diamonds and triangles that are meant to fit snugly together will stitch together more regularly if they are blocked to size first. 

That is exactly what I am doing with my third "Teddy Blankie" after the completion of the basic intarsia squares.

Nine squares on the blocking board.
Yarn scraps mark the locations of corners.

The white squares are separated by blue strips
worked in rows.

The "Bear Necessity" pattern (by Candi Jensen) inserts rows of blue between the sides of the squares to create three horizontal rows of three squares. Next, two blue strips are worked to go in between and join the three rows.  The blanket is finished with a blue border worked in rounds around the edge.

Each square of my blanket has its own blue border
worked in rounds.

Instead of joining the squares with blue strips, I want to create individual borders around each square and then join them together in the same way as a granny square blanket might be joined.

Whichever method I choose for this blanket, it will benefit from having the squares blocked and finished to uniform dimensions. Here are my tips:

  1. Measure with a ruler or tension gauge to check for consistent tension at the beginning, middle and end of each square during the crocheting process.
  2. Mark the corner stitches or the start and end stitches of each side.
  3. Check that the top and bottom rows, and sides have matching stitch counts.  (I had 28 half treble (htr) stitches across each row (of 24 rows) and 24 htr along each side.)
  4. Pin each square to size carefully. Position and pin the centre stitch(es) of a row edge to match the halfway point. Be generous with the pins‒add as many as necessary for an even result. Make sure all the squares are pinned to exactly the same size. (My squares were pinned to a size of approximately 24 x 24 cm / 9½ x 9½ inches)
Yarn scraps are used to mark the first and last stitch of each side.
Corner stitches will be worked between those markers.
I used yarn scraps in case I wanted to wet block the squares.
Yarn scraps are less likely to dislodge during washing.

Why not wait until the blue border is stitched onto each square
and then block?

The border rows will only be as even as their foundation rows.
Just like a building, if the foundation is not level or even, problems will begin to show in the work built upon it.

The edges of the white squares serve as the foundation rows for the border rounds. If the white edges/foundations are at the right tension, it will be easier to keep the blue border stitches at a correct and even tension.

For these squares, I used a damp blocking technique.  After pinning the squares to my blocking board, I sprayed them with water until they were damp and left them to dry at room temperature. For more ideas and instructions for blocking, please have a look at the blog entry "Poppies Shaping Up".

The blue border is worked in rounds with markers in each corner stitch.
The yarn scraps which marked the white edges are still attached.
I am keeping the yarn scrap markers in the squares until the end
to serve as reference points or
'navigational tools'
in case the blue border needs to be undone for any reason.

The border is made of 1 htr stitch into each edge stitch except for the corners. Three stitches are worked into each corner, with a marker in the centre stitch: 1 htr, 1 tr, 1 htr The centre stitch is slightly taller to give a squarer shape to the corner. Each border is two rounds deep.

I was not happy with the contrast between the yellow square and the blue border, so I used the leftover white yarn to 'freshen up' the transition between square and border.

The border of the yellow square is the same size as the other squares except the first round is white and the second round is blue. I expect this will focus attention on the centre square by making it 'look bigger' as well as 'freshen up' the colours.

I really like the white between the yellow and blue. It would be good to be able to use it for the outside border in the same way but there is not enough white to go around!  There is just enough blue to join the squares together, leaving the yellow available for trimming the border. I hope that a yellow trim will 'frame' the blanket and provide some rotational symmetry between the centre and edge.

The blue strips on the original pattern were 4 rows deep so I will make my borders around the squares 2 rounds deep to maintain a similar scale between the squares and the blue sections.

These are just some of the things I think about when crocheting!

Thank you everyone who shared their design ideas last week
I appreciated them very much whether they took me in a new direction or reinforced my own opinion.

It was interesting to see how many people commented on the mathematics involved in crocheting after my post about playing Yarn Chicken.  Maths is everywhere and I love the way crochet provides practical examples of maths in action.

I am not a super brainy mathematician-type.  I struggle to understand many mathematical concepts but that doesn't stop me from being fascinated by it all.

What fascinates you most about crochet?
What do you think about when you are crafting?

Related Posts on Lupey Loops

"Stashbusting to a Deadline", 21 February 2017: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2017/02/stashbusting-to-deadline.html
Includes details of the "Bear Necessity" pattern.

"Yarn Chicken", 24 February 2017: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2017/02/yarn-chicken.html
Includes a quick description of intarsia technique and a detailed tutorial about the mathematics of calculating yarn amounts.

"The Inevitable Time to Unwind", 2 March 2017: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2017/03/the-inevitable-time-to-unwind.html
Discussion of design choices.

"Poppies Shaping Up", 4 June 2015: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/poppies-shaping-up.html
More technical information about blocking in general and steam blocking in particular. 


  1. You amaze me with your knowledge my friend. I love teh white inside the blue border. Hope you have a great day.

    1. Thank you, Meredith. The aim is to pass on my knowledge to help everyone to achieve the best results possible with their crochet.

      In this way, we can showcase the craft to its best advantage and perhaps change (some people's) perceptions that crochet is somehow a lesser cousin to knitting, only useful for tablecloth edgings and doilies.

      You and I both know that is definitely not the case and each craft has its unique attributes, benefits, limitations, challenges and joys.

      I hope you are enjoying International Women's Day today. The morning breakfast radio program that I listen to has an all-female team this morning and it is so refreshing.

      Years ago, it used to frustrate me that the airwaves were dominated by male voices and the flagship current affairs programs sheduled during the peak ratings periods were always presented by men, while the women's voices were relegated to mid-afternoon 'light entertainment' topics. Thankfully these days, the gender balance is much improved but there is still work to be done so I appreciate the gestures being made in the media this morning.

      Are you wearing your Pussyhat today? I did not get around to making one because my efforts have been focussed on this blanket because baby is due to arrive any day now!

      If baby is born today, on International Women's Day, I might make him a couple of mini Pussyhats - one in pink and one in another colour to mark the significance of his birthday. What do you think?

      Enjoy your day, Meredith, and thank you for your friendship. xx