How to Steam Block a Knitted or Crocheted Scarf (or Shawl)

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How to Steam Block a Knitted or Crocheted Scarf (or Shawl)

I am a. HUGE. fan of blocking your finished items.

They can go from crumpled up blobs of weirdness to amazing, professional, eye-popping wowness, just by blocking.

I’ve done some posts before on how to block hats and how to wet block shawls, but today is about steam blocking!

It’s so simple. You’re gonna love it.

You can use this technique any time, but it’s especially great for those times when you’ve finished something and want to wear it immediately! That’s usually how it goes with me. HA!

I really love it for wool… it will work for most natural (animal or plant) fibers, but not synthetics, like acrylic. For info on fibers that will block, just read the post linked above on how to wet block shawls.

So. How to steam block if you don’t really need your item to be a specific shape; rather, you just wanna give it a wee bit of structure/shape and open up the stitching a bit:

1. Lay out your beautiful new item.

2. Plug in and turn on your iron (you’ll need one that steams)

3. Being super careful, stretch your item over your ironing board (I don’t have one… shows you how much I iron = never) or on your carpet like me, into the position you’d generally like it to be… then being sure not to blast your fingers (OUCH!), pump the steam button onto your item.

how to steam block a knitted scarf

4. Magically, you’ll see the fibers soften and loosen and begin to open up and stretch out.

5. Continue to shift, tug, pull gently here and there to loosen up the stitches and keep working your way down the scarf until you’re all done.

6. If you have points, or sections where you’d like a little more definition and you can’t hold them with your fingers or you’d burn yourself and end up in the emergency room, hurting and cold because you don’t have your finished scarf with you… then use a long pointy object, like, I dunno, a KNITTING NEEDLE or a CROCHET HOOK (HA ha!) and use that to poke around bits of your scarf. It works really great for the ends.

And done. TA DA! Model your gorgeous scarf.

peaks island hood knitted scarf pattern

Things to keep in mind when steam blocking. 

•You can pin your item out in any manner you choose and then steam block it. For pinning, though, I really prefer the wet method, so you can get a gooood streeetch.

•Don’t actually touch the item with your iron! Just hover the iron above your item, and blast with steam.

•You can use a steamer instead if you have one. Lucky you!

•It’ll feel a little bit like magic… it’s okay to be amazed.

 

So what is this scarf, what yarn is it and how do you make it?

Pattern: Peaks Island Hood by Ysolda Teague (one of my fav knitting designers)

Yarn: COFFEE AND CREAM Spectrum Wool (it takes 3 skeins but this colorway is now sold out for good.)  3 skeins of any of my current worsted weight yarns will do the trick instead.

Needle Size: Whatever the pattern recommended.

Difficulty: It was super easy… I’d say an established beginner could do it without issue. It had LOTS of seed stitch, which I love… but I have to say I got a wee bit bored making it. I literally had to force and bribe myself to get it finished and if it weren’t for you guys wanting to see it, it would probably still be stuffed somewhere, unfinished…and lay forgotten for the next 3 years. You saved it from a fate worse than death! Thank you!

Finishing: It needs buttons still. I don’t feel like sewing them on. So I’ll do it later. He he…  (that means it probably won’t get done).

finished object peaks island hood

peaks island hood scarf finished

peaks island hood finished object knitting

 

I wasn’t too sure I was in love with it until we took these photos and I felt like a 50’s gal. So yes, now, I love it. 😀

Anyhoo… if you have any other suggestions on steam blocking, just let us all know below! Thank you and have a fabbbbbulous day, dahling.

Yours in yarny bliss…

~Chandi

21 Comments

  1. Patricia June 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your post… this is pretty much how I’ve been blocking. And I wanted to share that I found a set of “rubber finger tips” (can’t remember what the package said) at JoAnn Fabrics to use when steaming/ironing things like this. It’s a set of 3 (thumb, index, middle finger) to put on the hand manipulating the object… a huge plus!

  2. lisa ingram June 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    Beautiful! no crochet equal for this, is there? LOL!

  3. Caryn June 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Holy Schmoly Chandi…I cant decide which is more beautiful….Your hood or YOU! You are extremely photogenic and you give off such positive Vibes, Thanks for sharing all your fantastic ideas and works. Im a fan forever!

  4. Joni Black June 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    it looks absolutely gorgeous on you.. going to have to start mine with the coffee and cream I bought from you. Can’t wait and I have a steamer so it will be great to try it on that piece! thanks ..

  5. Nina Smith June 5, 2013 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    Chandi thank you so much answering my request. I think a lot of people can learn from this. I only know one way of blocking and that’s wetting and pinning (I cheat and use wires as much as I can). I am going to trying this on my next project.

    Thanks again!

    Nina

  6. Marie June 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    I just wanted to say that I love the way you write. It is like you are having a conversation with your best friend.

  7. Linda Knisley June 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Chandi,

    This is a beautiful piece! Thank you for showing the finished product.

    I agree with the poster above – you’re very photogenic and the vibes you give off are so positive. Thank you!

    Have a great day

  8. Marion Tysnes June 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    Excellent text, excellent photos, beautiful scarf. Funnily enough I actually bought this yarn recently, and am now REALLY looking forward to receiving it!

    Thanks for all the helpful blogs 🙂

  9. Diane Comito June 5, 2013 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Came out beautiful! I finished mine a while back but have not blocked it yet. Will definitely use the steam method. Thank you so much for sharing this pattern and of course for making your beautiful yarns that work up so fabulous!

  10. TerryLee Diemert June 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Dear Chandi

    Love this photo, you look so beautiful in it. The scarf is beautiful as well, just thought i would mention this to you.
    TerryLee Diemert

  11. Pamela Zipp June 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm - Reply

    Where can I get the pattern for the scarf? I know where to get the yarn 🙂

  12. Shanan June 9, 2013 at 12:26 am - Reply

    I steam block acrylics. Just have to be ultra careful to not over do it. Since acrylic is a plastic it will melt if not super careful. The result is a fabric that drapes better. I did try it on one beanie but wasn’t happy because it looses elasticity so one must be selective as to what they block when it’s acrylic. There are several posts online about blocking acrylic with steam.

  13. Janie Waters June 9, 2013 at 12:47 am - Reply

    I steam block all the scarves and cowls I knit….. and if I’m doing a sweater in pieces that will have to be stitched together, I steam block those too. I live at the beach where it’s really damp all the time, and wet blocking just doesn’t work here – oh, to say nothing of having such small space. that’ll be the next challenge; my next project is a shawl that will have to be blocked… guess it’s time to move furniture around. Gotta love living in tiny space 😀

  14. Cyn Bliss June 18, 2013 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Chandi:

    Was rereading this article and the pictures of your “scarf” are making me deeply ponder learning how to knit. At first glance of the 1st photo, I thought it might be crochet (my craft since 3rd grade) but after looking at all the pics, now know it to be the wonderfully mystical craft of knitting which I have not ever tried due to fright of failure.

    Is this something you ever would teach on your blog? I know it would take precious time from your hand dying but with the gift you have of expressing yourself, I would rather learn it from you with photos and written instructions than going to some other website and finding the right person for the task.

    Oh, and is this a pattern you have to share with others? I would love to get a copy to inspire me to knitting greatness!!! I can see it now, looking through patterns and not having to gloss over the knitted ones but actually looking for a project that I could knit!

    Thanks for listening,
    Cyn

    • Chandi June 23, 2013 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      Yes, you can checkout my YouTube channel: http://youtube.com/expressionfiberarts Definitely give it a go! I was a crocheter at first too and have now fallen in love with knitting as well. 😀 Chandi

      P.S. Yes, this is the Peaks Island Hood on Ravelry.com by Ysolda Teague.

  15. Jessica Garofalo April 5, 2014 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    I was wondering if you knew anything about blocking items made from tshirt yarn? I’m making a rug right now that would benefit from some blocking, but I’m not sure if it will work. Thanks!

  16. David April 29, 2014 at 4:44 am - Reply

    Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Cheers

  17. marti February 27, 2015 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    I use straightened out metal hangers, I left the curve to be able to still hang it up when not in use. Works like a charm, I taped one end with scotch tape then fed it through the edge of my knitting, I use my cutting board and place a towel on top, I then use T pins to hold the wire, I then use a large scrap of cotton fabric and place on top then I steam, if the knitting has texture I just hover the iron above then I steam and thats it.

  18. harriet January 6, 2016 at 11:13 am - Reply

    Is is possible to put my acrylic shawl in a veggie steamer then pin it to the shape I’d like, after? Or does one HAVE to use a steam iron and blast the item when it’s flat?

    • Chandi January 8, 2016 at 1:53 pm - Reply

      Definitely give it a try, although I have no idea what will happen! Lol. I’d do a test piece first.

  19. Grace September 23, 2016 at 7:22 am - Reply

    Hi Chandi
    Thank you for this article which I have just shared on FB CROCHET ADDICT. Since you “taught” me steam blocking I have not been using any other methods. It’s fast and works out beautifully.

    Thank you.

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