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Steam Blocking Acrylic Yarn


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Hello. Currently I'm working on a shawl and I'm using yarn that is 75% acrylic. This shawl needs to be stretched out during blocking to show the lace work and to be a certain size. I know that projects made with acrylic yarn can be blocked to look better overall, but my question is, can you stretch out a lacey project with steam blocking enough that the openwork shows and it grows to a certain size? Thanks.

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I am not a fan of killing acrylic, just saying that up front.  It turns it crunchy (I can't think of a better word), and destroys it's ability to stretch and retract.

A shawl is probably the only wearable that it might make sense to 'kill' the acrylic. You wouldn't want to 'kill' a hat or sweater, for example, that you'd need to stretch to put on but retract to fit after that.

If you can't get it to the right size now by just stretching and pinning it, it's not going to grow more by steam blocking it, if that what you meant by 'getting it to a certain size'.  And you will need rust proof pins and a safe place to block it (that won't be affected by steam).

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8 minutes ago, Granny Square said:

I am not a fan of killing acrylic, just saying that up front.  It turns it crunchy (I can't think of a better word), and destroys it's ability to stretch and retract.

A shawl is probably the only wearable that it might make sense to 'kill' the acrylic. You wouldn't want to 'kill' a hat or sweater, for example, that you'd need to stretch to put on but retract to fit after that.

If you can't get it to the right size now by just stretching and pinning it, it's not going to grow more by steam blocking it, if that what you meant by 'getting it to a certain size'.  And you will need rust proof pins and a safe place to block it (that won't be affected by steam).

Thank you for your answer. I have read online that you can steam block acrylic without totally killing it, so I was planning to do that. I can stretch the shawl out with my hands enough, I just need it to stay that size.

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Mmmm, it doesn't take much.  If you steam it enough so it stays at the stretched-out size, it's dead, remember the 'won't stretch or retract' part.

I suggest making a swatch or 2 and see what you think first.

 

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I made a 12" swatch from acrylic-wool mix some time ago, then steamed it to see what the effects would be. I did not like it at all. It lost it's texture and as Granny Square advised, it gets a "crunchy" feeling.

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I've blocked a lot of acrylic in my time.  Steam blocking seems to mean 2 things.  If you steam block by hovering the iron above the shawl, that will not flatten raised stitches.  If you steam block by using a damp cloth and put the iron on top of the damp cloth, you will flatten raised stitches.  I do not recall a single time that steam blocking turned my item crunchy -- it's just the opposite for me.  It tends to soften acrylic and turn it limp -- hence the term "killing the yarn".

I like to kill my acrylic into shape.  Pin it out -- square it off (or whatever shape) and use a steam cloth.  I did a wall hanging (graph) once where the middle of it was 12 inches different from the top and bottom -- the graph crochet and its color changes caused this.  I was able to stretch this out and permanently alter its shape using steam blocking with a steam cloth.

I've had one failure -- I made a baby blanket from a nylon-acrylic mix.  This would not steam block at all.  It needed it.  Nylon by itself has responded to steam blocking.  Somehow the combination did not. 

 

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The 'crunchy killing' happened when I held the iron a few inches away (5 or 6?) and 'shot' steam at the item briefly.  Didn't use a cloth.

I have a RHSS trivet that my SIL made me a long time ago,  it has gotten smashed and killed putting hot casserole dishes on it over the years.  I would call it limp rather than soft, but it's still 'crunchy'.  The crunchy is hard to describe; I guess I just prefer the yarn's original state.

 

 

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I used a hand held steamer and far enough away to be sure it would not be too hot. The wool part was fine, it was the acrylic that turned on me. 

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3 hours ago, Granny Square said:

The 'crunchy killing' happened when I held the iron a few inches away (5 or 6?) and 'shot' steam at the item briefly.  Didn't use a cloth.

I have a RHSS trivet that my SIL made me a long time ago,  it has gotten smashed and killed putting hot casserole dishes on it over the years.  I would call it limp rather than soft, but it's still 'crunchy'.  The crunchy is hard to describe; I guess I just prefer the yarn's original state.

 

 

What I've seen in the videos I've watched is that if you let the acrylic touch a hot surface directly (even under a wet towel) the stitches flatten and melt together somewhat, and if you hover above it with something that produces heat and steam, the stitches will keep their shape but I have no idea how that feels to the touch since I saw it on a video.

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8 hours ago, MaryPat said:

I've blocked a lot of acrylic in my time.  Steam blocking seems to mean 2 things.  If you steam block by hovering the iron above the shawl, that will not flatten raised stitches.  If you steam block by using a damp cloth and put the iron on top of the damp cloth, you will flatten raised stitches.  I do not recall a single time that steam blocking turned my item crunchy -- it's just the opposite for me.  It tends to soften acrylic and turn it limp -- hence the term "killing the yarn".

I like to kill my acrylic into shape.  Pin it out -- square it off (or whatever shape) and use a steam cloth.  I did a wall hanging (graph) once where the middle of it was 12 inches different from the top and bottom -- the graph crochet and its color changes caused this.  I was able to stretch this out and permanently alter its shape using steam blocking with a steam cloth.

I've had one failure -- I made a baby blanket from a nylon-acrylic mix.  This would not steam block at all.  It needed it.  Nylon by itself has responded to steam blocking.  Somehow the combination did not. 

 

Thanks for your answer. I guess I will try steam blocking a little swatch and see how it turns out.

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