Wednesday, April 11, 2007

killing acrylic

wooden blocks
Have you ever heard of blocking acrylic? I was under the impression that it was unblockable until I found this post.

Here Donna Druchunas, author of Arctic Lace, discusses killing acrylic. Now I know some of you would never dream of using such a -shall we use the f word - fiber. But for those of us who appreciate the value of being able to wash and dry a project without worry and who don't want to break the bank, here is what she says:

Blocking Acrylic

You need: Blocking wires and/or rust proof pins, a cotton dish towel or a piece of cotton fabric, and an iron.

Here's [Pat Stevens'] technique for "killing" acrylic yarn to give it a gorgeous drape.

Wet your knitting, spin it out in a washer. Lay a sheet on the carpet. Pin the piece exactly the size you want. (I stretch my lace shoulder warmers pretty hard.) Lay a wet cotton dish towel or piece of fabric over it. With a hot iron press down all over the thing. Don't iron just press. I press until the top cloth is very dry. Then I leave it overnight to finish drying. It's that easy. I really press it a lot, it's the steam heat that makes the acrylic look and drape like rayon. You may want to knit a large swatch and test it out.

Edited to add this note in response to a question a reader sent me in email: Acrylic yarn gets "killed" by the application of the heat and it will remain dead after future washings and retain its new shape. You should only have to do this treatment once, as far as I can tell, whereas you normally have to reblock lace knitted in wool or other natural fibers after each washing.

Here's another tip that just arrived in my email from Renee Wells*: This can also be done dry. Sometimes I place the item on a towel with a wet cloth above. Press and then gently stretch the item into the new shape. You can pick up the cloth between wettings and see where more pressing is needed to even it out. The advantage to this method is greater stretch. You must be careful not to let the item hang over the ironing board it you are trying it there. The weight will skew the shape. I often kill acrylic baby blankets, they morph into lovely exotic feeling fibers! No longer just acrylic! And the mums that receive them use them over and over because they do hold their new drape.

*Renee teaches some great classes on Japanese knitting.

So, this weekend I am going to try this method with my Easy Granny Quilt Afghan. I'll keep you posted.

Note: In her post Donna also outlines how to block natural fibers. I haven't done much of this. She assures us that it is easy.

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