We all know that feeling when we purchase a new crochet pattern. Excitement courses through our hooks as we print out the pages. We go straight to the section that has the yarn and hook info. Why even bother with our stash? “Let’s buy new yarn!” we all shout silently in our minds.
Then, your eyes scan the rest of the info and come across that dreaded crochet cuss word, “Gauge.” Something catches your eye that you haven’t seen before in other patterns. This designer listed the gauge measurements and added the word ‘Blocked.’
What does that even mean? How do I block a gauge swatch?
Pin it Now, Read it Later!
A flock member on Instagram recently asked me this question. I could see how this simple word after the gauge measurements could create a problem ‘Blocked.’ For those crocheters who are not familiar with the term blocking, this term could be confusing. Some makers have never even heard of or thought about blocking their gauge swatch.
When listing your gauge swatch measurements, list whether or not you block your swatch. You will write your gauge measurements as follows:
Gauge: X sts by X rows = 4 inches (10 cm) blocked OR unblocked
In my ‘Why Gauge is Important for Designers’ article, I share HOW to make a proper gauge swatch from a designer’s measurements. This would be a great article to read before scrolling on!
Gather All Your Supplies
- Blocking Mats: These mats are by far my favorite! They can interlock, so if you need to block a bigger project, you won’t have any issues!
- Blocking Pins: These pins are great because they are rust-proof, and the ‘T’ makes it easy to pull the pins out of the mat.
- Steamer: or Steam Iron: The steamer I use is by far, the best steamer I’ve used. Many crocheters swear by it!
- Your Gauge Swatch
Thing To Know About The Blocking Mats
What I love about these BLOCKING MATS is that each square on the mat equals one inch. You don’t need to use a ruler to measure your block. You can use the lines on the mat at your guide!
Important Info To Consider About Your Gauge Swatch
When working up a gauge swatch, it’s essential to work your swatch as close to the final measurement as possible. If you stretch your swatch to fit the final measurements, it won’t show the true gauge. If you have to stretch your swatch more than a quarter of an inch while pinning it on your blocking mat, your swatch will return to its original measurements once you remove your pins.
Many designers will you the gauge measurements for a 4 in (10 cm) swatch. However, I recommend making a 5 inch swatch then measuring the inner 4 inches to get a true gauge. Want to learn how to do this? This ARTICLE has all the info you need!
Time to Block
Always use the lines on the blocking mat as a guide when blocking swatches. Remember that each square on the mat is one inch. Lay your swatch on the mat and line it up to the lines on the mat. Pin your swatch in place, placing a pin at each line. This will help to make sure your swatch is square.
Grab Your Steamer!
Now comes the fun part! It’s time to steam-block your swatch! Steam-blocking your crochet fabric works best for most fibers, especially those that lose shape when wet, like cotton.
Turn your steamer on and let it heat up a bit. Hold the steamer about 1 inch from your swatch and let the steam saturate the fibers for 30-45 seconds. Your swatch should feel warm and a little damp. Let your swatch sit for several hours or overnight until fully dry before removing the pins.
Want to see a quick video tutorial on blocking a gauge swatch? Check it out HERE!