Do you guys block acrylic and if so how? A new great niece/nephew arriving in January and I want to make some things. Or maybe you can direct me to washable wool products. I guess I could use sock yarn.
You can lightly steam block acrylic...but be careful...it,s esy to "kill" it...and it flattens.
Personally, I wouldn't waste your money or your time knitting with acrylic yarns. And from a safety standpoint, acrylic items and babies, infants and small children should be avoided. Acrylic blankets and garments when exposed to flames melt and have caused serious thermal injuries. Wool on the other hand does not support combustion. I like to use superwash (machine washable wool) or a combination of superwash wool, cotton and nylon for children clothes, blankets, or accessories. Baby Ull by Dale of Norway is 100% superwash merino wool that retails for around $6.90/180 yard skein and is available in many baby appropriate colors. The Baby Ull is also supported by wonderful patterns. My other suggestion is to search on line, KnitPicks.com. I have used KnitPicks wools many times. Search the sight for "machine washable yarns" and look for "Swish". Swish is machine washable 100% Merino wool that is available in many colors and in worsted and DK weights. Another, KnitPicks alternative is "Stroll". "Stroll" is machine washable Sports weight yarn, but is 75% Merino and 25% Nylon. Might think twice about since the Nylon is another potential for thermal burns if it should catch fire. Prices for KnitPicks products are very competitive and the service and support is excellent. If you have a favorite LYS, their sales personal should be able to show you several machine washable, wool yarns suitable for kid stuff.
Steam blocking is the way to go for acrylic pieces, but how you block it depends on what it is you are making. Most things you can machine wash and dry and the heat of the dryer will allow the acrylic to soften in texture and drape and remember it's knitted shape. For a lot of people "killing" the yarn is what steam blocking actually does, and that's not a bad thing. It is a matter of controling the heat to melt the fibers on a microscopic level into it's new knitted/crocheted shape, creating a soft, drapey, finished fabric that will NEVER lose the block, unless it is frogged and remade into something else. What you need to be careful of is completely melting the yarn altogether, which is an unrecoverable horrid mess.
If it is a sweater, shawl or blanket that needs to be stretched to a certain size or shape, what I do is to wash and squeeze the moisture out by rolling up in a towel and walking on it a few times, just like I would with a wool project. However, once I have it laid/pinned out on the blocking surface, I take the damp towel that I used before and lay it on top of the FO. Then I put my iron on it's highest setting and iron the towel, allowing the steam to press the fabric underneath until the towel is dry. If it is a large piece you may have to move the towel around and spray it down with more water if the steam runs out. I find this is a much more efficient and safe way to get the steam to penetrate without risking the iron touching the yarn itself.
A couple of notes, I do not like to steam block on rubber blocking mats, just because I'm paranoid about the rubber melting to my yarn. I don't know if it will, but I'll never find out first hand. I use my bed instead.
Also, if there are cables in the piece, block with the right side DOWN and make sure there is something underneath to cushion the fabric (bed is fine as is, but if you are using and ironing board, table, or uncarpeted flor, put a thick towel or something else a least a little bit soft underneath). This will help prevent the cables from being ironed out too flat from any extra pressure of the iron.
Finally, if you think you will work in acrylics a lot, or if you ever get into recycling yarn, or a number of other reasons, keep your eye out for sales on garment steamers. They are wonderful it loads of ways.
cobwebmsnd is spot on. There are a lot of decent yarns that are acrylic/acrylic blend, so steam away!
While I like working with wool, I live in a very warm climate, so wool is not always the first thing I go to for others in my area, even if it superwash. That being said, I second the Knitpicks recommendation. I just finished a baby blanket using their Comfy yarn, which is 75% Pima Cotton and 25% nylon and was lovely to work with. Plant fibers are also good for steam blocking, BTW.
When I make things for newborns, I like to use the really soft yarns that are washable. I don't worry about yarns that need blocking or special care, as the last thing a new parent wants is fussy clothing for their newborn. Fussy clothing usually gets stored and never worn. I made a blanket for friend of mine and their new baby and he told me that they wrapped the baby up with it and she promptly threw up all over it. Into the wash it went and was back on baby for naptime.
I really like the superwash Merino by KnitPicks. It is very supple to work with.
Another yarn that I have recently fallen in love with is Caron Simply Soft acrylic.
It has a really nice soft feel to it and you get 315 yards for about $6 at JoAnn Fabrics. I used two skeins to make my mother a bolero-type sleeveless.
One more acrylic that I like is Lustrous Lamb by Sensations, which is a soft wool blend (80% acrylic, 20% wool). It behaves like the Caron yarn and also available at JoAnn's.
Hope all that helps. Enjoy making things for the new arrival.
If you don't use acrylic you won't have to block it.
Thank you. I think I will take your advice, Scott. I am certainly not a yarn snob but I do not like the feel of acrylic and especially as it goes through my fingers. I will wait until I get to Canada and look for something suitable.
Thanks for all your help guys and gals. It is certainly appreciated.
Here is an excellent tutorial on blocking that is packed FULL of very valuable information. I've been doing this for many years with my weaving, in water, and still do the same with my knitting. Note especially the workout Annie Modesitt gives her knits at "the spa".
I will agree with Bill. I always block Acrylic and blends are by washing. Anything with an iron can be a disaster to the material, you will lose texturing. Even when I swatch an acrylic item, I block it by wash and dry, definitely follow the instructions suggested on the label. There are many uses for acrylics from blankets, to protective covers, there are plenty of blends to choose from with degrees of softness.
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