Friday 20 March 2015

Guest Post ~ What is Blocking? by Sally Strawberry....

I have another guest for you to celebrate National Craft Month and this time it is Sally Strawberry! (Strawberry is her blog surname but it would be really cool if it was her real one!).

I follow Sally's blog which is full of crochet scrumptiousness (is that a real word? If not it should be) and has given me helpful tips whilst I learnt to crochet.  Sally's patterns have also been included in "Inside Crochet" magazine which is pretty cool! 

So I am really pleased that she is sharing her expertise on my blog, over to Sally....

Hi, I'm Sally and I have just a little obsession with crochet. I love the flexibility of crochet, the way that with just a few stitches you can create something beautiful.

I began with knitting but my real passion is crochet. I believe that crochet should no longer be seen as an activity purely for the older generations but should be used as an expression of creativity and to show off the multitude of fabulous yarns we are privileged to have available to us (the brighter the colours the better!). 

I'm a scientist by trade and work full-time but snatch as much time as possible to crochet, blog and immerse myself in the fabulous world of craft. 

What is blocking? 

Blocking is one of the most important steps in any knitting or crochet project to take your work to the next level, to make them look as brilliant as they do in the magazines.
Blocking comes in many guises, but essentially has the same effect. 

Joanne of Not So Granny writes about wet blocking by giving your item a good soaking. This is the most suitable method for those beautiful garments you have lovingly crocheted in sumptuous wool yarns.  

Lucy of Attic 24 has posted about 'steam blocking' whereby small items, such as bunting, are blocked by hovering a steam iron over your work which is firstly pinned into position. My method is a mix of the two, and I will go through it now.....

In this tutorial I will only be talking about blocking small items such as bunting, as although I do now blog about my larger crochet and knitted pieces, I'm by no means an expert (I’ll leave that to Joanne).  

Now although I’d never claim to be an expert in anything, I have made a lot of bunting over the years. A lot! Bunting really benefits from blocking, as it looks miles better hanging and is less likely to curl up at the corners. Bunting also benefits from being a bit sturdy, so hereby I introduce the secret ingredient- spray starch!

Right, here goes…..

See these triangles of crochet fabulousness here.....sorry....I mean strange shapes all curled up at the corners.....these are my bunting triangle pre-blocking....

The kit....

  • Damp tea towel (I put it under the tap and wring it out well)
  • An iron (any old iron- mine doesn't even steam anymore)
  • Pins
  • and the magic ingredient- SPRAY STARCH (only a quid in the laundry aisle of any supermarket)
The process....

1. Place item front side down onto ironing board
2. Spray liberally with spray starch
3. Make sure it is flat and cover with damp tea towel
4. With iron on a LOW SETTING (very important!) press firmly onto work through the tea towel

It is very important that you don't hold the iron down very long, 5 seconds at a time max, otherwise you risk squashing/melting your work, especially if you are using acrylic. 

Keep on pressing until your work stays flat when you remove the tea towel, but please please please not long enough to burn it.

5. Turn work over so that the right side is facing up
6. Spray the front liberally with starch
7. Pin into place stretching out the corners. I just do this straight into the ironing board foam.

8. Leave to dry overnight
9. VoilĂ ! Lovely flat, slightly stiffened, triangles ready to be strung into bunting!

See the difference yes? 

The advantages of blocking are really no excuses eh!

P.S. When I am blocking component parts of a stuffed toy for example I just iron lightly on reverse through a damp tea towel.  Starch wouldn't be appropriate in this case. The pieces are then OK to be used straight away!

Thank you Sally for taking the time to share this tutorial with us, this is really useful. I haven't really known what I was doing with blocking so I am grateful for the tips!

Check out Sally's blog for more crochet tips, patterns and tutorials here
Sally is also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

I hope you have enjoyed my guest bloggers for National Craft Month. I don't just have guests in March, I'm always happy to work with other crafters and bloggers so if you have an idea or craft tutorial you would like to share, please get in touch.

fizzi~jayne x

Have you missed the other guest posts this month? Click on the links below....

Rachel Saka - Decoupage Techniques
Spiral Earrings Techniques

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