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What are the different types of blocking in crochet?

Blocking is an important finishing technique in crochet that helps give your finished pieces a polished, professional look. By blocking, you can even out any inconsistencies in gauge, shape the fabric through stretching or compressing, and open up the stitches to create a smoother overall appearance. There are several different methods of blocking that work for different types of crochet projects. Here is an overview of the main blocking techniques used in crochet.

Wet Blocking

Wet blocking is one of the most common blocking methods used for crochet. It involves thoroughly wetting or soaking the crocheted fabric, then shaping and drying it. The moisture relaxes the yarn fibers, allowing them to be manipulated into the desired shape as they dry. There are a few approaches to wet blocking:

  • Soak blocking – Fully submerging the crocheted piece in water for up to 30 minutes, then gently squeezing out excess water.
  • Spray blocking – Spritzing the project lightly with water until dampened throughout.
  • Steam blocking – Holding a steam iron or garment steamer just above the fabric to mist it with steam.

No matter which wet blocking technique you use, the key is to avoid agitating the stitches while wet. Smooth the crocheted fabric into the desired shape, then allow it to air dry fully while pinned or weighted into place. Wet blocking works well for pieces made from plant fibers like cotton, linen, hemp, and bamboo that can handle a thorough soaking. It helps soften up stitches and achieve the planned measurements of a crocheted piece.

Starch Blocking

Starch blocking involves applying a starch solution to thoroughly stiffen the crocheted fabric so it holds its shape. The starch is usually dissolved in water and applied by either spraying or submerging the project in the solution. The crocheted piece is then shaped as desired and left until completely dry. The starch locks the fibers in place to create crisp, structured fabric. Starch blocking results in a harder, less flexible fabric than other blocking methods. It is ideal for projects where stiff shaping is needed, like structured bags, baskets, Irish lace motifs, and decorative elements. Starch blocking is also frequently used for thread crochet done with thin yarns like crochet cotton to better define the intricate stitchwork.

Steam Blocking

As the name implies, steam blocking involves applying steam to heat-set the fibers of the crocheted fabric. This can be done in a few ways:

  • Iron steam blocking – Hold a steam iron just above the project, letting the steam penetrate the stitches.
  • Garment steamer – Use a handheld garment steamer to mist the entire piece with steam.
  • Shower steam blocking – Hang or hold the crocheted item in a steamy shower to expose it to moist heat.

The steam relaxes the fibers so the piece can be stretched or shaped as needed. The heat also helps set the fibers into the new dimensions. Steam blocking is ideal for acrylic yarn projects and works well for delicate fabrics that cannot be soaked. It shapes the stitches nicely without over-handling the yarn. This method also helps even out inconsistencies in gauge.


Pressing with an iron is another heat-based blocking technique for crochet. The iron is pressed directly against the right side of the fabric while held in the desired shape. Pressing smooths the surface of the stitches, either enhancing or reducing texture based on the temperature, steam, and pressure applied. It also permanently sets the fibers in position. Pressing works best for fiber blends that can withstand high heat, like yarns with acrylic, nylon, or polyester. Be sure to test the iron temperature on yarn scraps first. Too much heat can damage or melt some fibers.

Air Blocking

Air blocking is a more gentle approach that does not use any moisture. The crocheted piece is shaped and allowed to rest until the fibers relax into position. Weights or pins can be used to help stretch the fabric as needed. This method takes longer than wet or steam blocking since it relies solely on gravity to reshape the stitches over time. Air blocking minimizes handling and prevents potential felting or shrinkage that can come from getting projects too wet. It is ideal for delicate fabrics made from washable wool, alpaca, silk, or bamboo.

Blocking Based on Fiber Content

The best blocking method for a crochet project often depends on the fiber content of the yarn used. Here is an overview of appropriate blocking techniques for different crochet yarn fibers:

Fiber Recommended Blocking Method
Acrylic Steam blocking or pressing
Alpaca Wet blocking or air blocking
Bamboo Wet blocking or air blocking
Cotton Wet blocking
Linen Wet blocking
Nylon Steam blocking or pressing
Polyester Steam blocking or pressing
Silk Steam blocking or air blocking
Wool Steam blocking or air blocking

Always check the care instructions for a yarn label to identify if there are any special blocking recommendations or restrictions based on fiber content. Natural fibers like cotton and linen can typically be fully wet blocked, while more delicate animal fibers and synthetics require gentler steam or air blocking methods.

When to Block Crochet Projects

Blocking is usually one of the final steps when completing a crochet project. But there are some instances where blocking earlier in the process can be beneficial:

  • When joining motif pieces – Blocking motifs or granny square pieces before assembling a project helps get them all to the same size for seamless joining.
  • After finishing a large section – Blocking portions as you go helps prevent inconsistencies in shaping, curling edges, and gauge.
  • For stitches that grow after washing – Lace, cables, bobbles, and other 3D stitches may benefit from pre-emptive blocking to account for growth after the first washing.

Blocking too early can make it hard to work additional rows, so reserve full blocking until the very end unless preventing curling, distortion, or growth necessitates it for certain sections.

Tips for Effective Blocking

Follow these tips for the best results when blocking your crochet projects:

  • Always swatch before starting a project to determine how much growth your yarn and stitches will have. This allows planning finished measurements accurately.
  • Block swatches using your planned method to observe effects beforehand.
  • Check care instructions for fiber limitations to prevent damaging yarn.
  • Use rustproof pins, smooth wires, or blocking mats to anchor pieces into shape.
  • Block pieces flat whenever possible to achieve the most even shaping.
  • Avoid overly stretching delicate fibers like alpaca or silk that may break or distort.
  • Let items dry fully before removing pins or moving.
  • Consider steam from behind for shaped pieces to avoid impressions from pins.
  • Store blocked pieces flat until ready to assemble or use to avoid re-curling.

With some planning and patience, you can use blocking to take your crochet projects to the next level. While it adds one more step to the process, the impact of even, professional finishing is well worth the extra time and care you put into this important technique.


Blocking is a valuable skill that can greatly enhance the look and quality of your crochet work. Whether you need to soften stiff stitches, shape the fabric into precise dimensions, or set the drape just right, there is a blocking method suited for any project. With some practice on gauge swatches, you will discover which techniques work best for different fibers, stitches, and shapes. Take the time to block your finished pieces, and you’ll love how the finishing touch makes them look clean, polished and professionally crafted.