Gram's Blocking Procedure & Recipe

Gram's Blocking Procedure & Recipe

Gram taught me to block a doily.  Blocking is the process that fixes a new or freshly cleaned doily to make it stay in shape.  She insisted "use cornstarch & nothing else" and I find that a wise choice since it works well not only in shape, but the crochetwork stays white longer.  

Supplies for a doily:  2 c water, 2 heaping tbsp cornstarch (as shown), small pot, towel, medium and large bowl

Extra supplies for stiffening ornaments:  pins, mold or flat board to pin to (I've had the same insulation board for almost 30 years), plastic wrap,  lots of paper towels!

On med heat, stir cornstarch & water.  It will start off looking like milk:

Stir until it gets "blubbly"  (Gram's word) at its boiling point.  It spits so be careful!
I find the cornstarch works better when you stir constantly to avoid clumps.  It will look more translucent.

Pour mixture into medium bowl.  Save the pot for the next step.

This is what is used to stiffen ornaments.  Saturate your ornament in the cornstarch mixture, squeeze out excess muck and pin to a board. It's hot!  Use as soon as you can, but as it dries it doesn't do as good a job.  (I always do the doily step while this cools)

For 3D items you can use a mold.  I wrap board or mold with plastic wrap first.  It doesn't stick, but it's a better way to keep the board & molds longer.  If molds are made with clay, make sure you've doubled the plastic wrap. 
 crochet + clay = damage. 

For a doily, take the pot and run water through it to get the residue & water into the larger bowl.  You only need a bit of residue to do the job.  The more cornstarch you leave in the pot, the stiffer your doily will become.  It will soften over time.  The amount is really up to you.  I tend to stir the residue as the water is pouring.  It doesn't matter if you use warm or cold water.  Remember you'll be putting your hands in it so you don't want it freezing!

Lay a smooth towel onto a flat surface.  I use the dining room table usually.  Saturate the doily in the water.  You can throw a bunch in at a time if you are sure they are colorfast.  I've seen the water turn pink using old, red cotton!  As a rule, I'll do all the white work first just in case.  I also start with the larger doilies so I know there will be room on the towel.
Gram used to wet the doily first then put it in the bowl.  I just skip this step as I never saw a difference in how it turned out.  My way, I am sure it's saturated with the cornstarch water.

Then it's just press into the towel.  I start in the middle of a big doily & work my way out to keep it as straight as I can.  I sometimes use my measuring tape to double & triple check.  As I work to the edge I'm pressing until it looks the way I like.  I press extra on the picots and edges that should look uniform.  
Many people pin at this stage, I never do.  If you decide to pin, the whole process can take place on a board because pins in the dining room table would be terrible!

Wait for the doily to dry & you should be good to go! 

*I find it better to do the blocking in the evening.  When I get up in the morning I'll remove the towels & flip the doilies over on the table to finish drying if necessary.  
*When you decide to fold up or mail the doily, all you need to do is package in tissue paper.  You can add a little water to the doily & reshape on a towel before using.  No need to re-block.  
*I would re-block the doily if you do a cleaning.  I suggest oxyclean, not a washing machine.
*I never iron doilies, but many people do.  I think the water/towel trick avoids this.  You can.

*If you use pins, especially with the thicker mixture, removing the pins without disturbing the drying process will ensure they come out easy.  There is nothing sticky about the cornstarch, but they are sometimes hard to pull out when dry.

Any questions?  You know where to find me.  I'll be crocheting something.


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