Blocking Granny Squares 101
There is nothing more satisfying than working up a few colourful crochet granny squares, am I right? But when you’ve finished your required number of squares/run out of yarn/need to finish up this project so that you can start on the next, and you’re going to want to join them up in to one colossal blanket/throw/afgan/snuggler.
You’ve laid out all the squares, got them just how you want them and suddenly you feel a bit cheated. Seems that no one told you that the task of getting the squares to all neatly line up, the corners to meet and the sides to sit flush to each other, is a fiddly one. Holding the squares together with a heap of pins always seems leave you prickled, yet doesn’t seem to hold the section together neatly enough for stitching.
We’ve all been there. That the moment when you want to throw them behind the couch and damn them all to hell. But, guess what? it needn’t be like that.
So, how do you get the squares to all fit together exactly? The answer, my friends is blocking.
What is this blocking I speak of? Sounds rather dull, right? Wrong it’s basically the principle of using water – or steam – to help you to shape the fibres of the yarn for your finished piece.
Before you sulking off, muttering that there isn’t enough hours in the day to be bothered with blocking each individual square, there are a whole heap of advantages to blocking, take a look…
Stitches can be evened out, so any mildly wonky tension can be corrected
Helps to open out the work and reveal the stitch patterns
Allows the piece to be made into the correct shape of size <<< This is why you’re going to love it for your granny squares!
There are three ways to block your crochet (or knitted pieces)
- Spray blocking (this is my go-to method) – applying a healthy dose of warm water with a spray bottle before pinning out to the desired size and shape.
- Steam blocking – using a pressing cloth and iron and allowing the heat and moisture from the steam to penetrate the fibres.
- Wash blocking – soaking the item in warm water fully before (carefully) squeezing out the excess water and pinning into position.
All three methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and some are better for some tasks and fibres over others. You’re always going to need to be careful when using steam on woolens so that the fibres aren’t damaged by the heat and remember that soggy soaked through items will be heavy and should be handled with care to prevent them from stretching out of shape and getting damaged.
I prefer to spray block – working with mosly natural fibres, this usually works a treat and seems to make less of a soggy mess of the house at the same time. The pieces dry out into shape quickly, and any troublesome areas – the bits that just wont sit where you what them – can be resprayed into submission!
OK, so that’s the theory, how about putting it into practice.
Let’s get blocking…
Spray blocking requires a few supplies…
Crochet squares (obviously!)
Pins – no rusty only ones, pick out the clean rustproof kind so as not to mark any light coloured yarns
Spray bottle filled with warm water
Blocking board – these are special boards that are used as a base for pinning out the projects, they feature a handy grid to ensure every piece is pinned out to the correct dimensions. Of course, you can simply use a flat surface – you bed with a few thick fluffy towels to work on (remember this ca take a few hours to dry, so maybe don’t go blocking on your bed last thing at night or you’ll be sleeping on the couch!). I use interlocking foam playmats – the kind that Littles use – these are easy enough to pin into, but need to be used with a tape measure to get the sizing just right.
Place the granny square onto the blocking mat, with right side uppermost. With the spray bottle, spritz a generous amount of warm water on to the surface. You want the fibers to be damp enough to be manipulated into the correct dimensions.
Pin the corners onto the blocking board, using the tape measure (or marking on the board if you’re a fancy pants) adjust until each pin is the same distance apart and parallel so that the corners are positioned to the correct dimensions.
Place the tape measure along each side in turn, and add in the pins easing the material of the granny square out to the right size and shape. Spritz on more warm water as you work, to help ease out any stubborn sections.
Once all the sides are pinned out, use the tape measure to check that each side is the same length and that it is pinned perfectly square – this is what will help all the squares to come together neatly – move and adjust any pins until it is just right.
Leave somewhere safe to dry – away from pesky puppies – if its a sunny day, moving the boards out to a shady spot in the garden works a treat! Once fully dry, remove the pins and…Tah Dah…you’ll have perfectly square squares!