Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How to block a crochet lace crown: Part 1

I had a friend I wanted to surprise with a crochet lace crown.  The pattern I used was a variation of this free pattern from Red Heart.

I had a couple of issues with the pattern; the first being I didn't have any No. 5 crochet thread.  In fact, I've never even seen No. 5 anywhere other than online.  I've only been able to find No. 3 or No. 10.

My other issue was the disappearance of my 2.25mm hook.  I know I have one.  At least I'm pretty sure I do.  Even though I don't do thread crochet often, I do try to keep all my steel hooks together, but no sign of a 2.25mm anywhere.

So I ended up making the crown out of No. 3 crochet cotton with a 2.75mm hook.

Which means I knew I would have a final crown that was larger than the pattern.  And it already look pretty big on the model's head in the photo.

When I first started making it, because of the size difference, I followed the instructions for size changes and reduced the starting chain by 15.

It wasn't until I got to the 4th round that I realized the error in the pattern.  It's not a 15 stitch repeat.  It's a 30 stitch repeat.

Which meant starting over, but without trying to change the size.  Taking 30 stitches out of the pattern would have made it child sized.

Well, I wasn't making it to be worn.  I was making it for an inside joke.  So I wasn't too worried.

I also decided to add matching beads to the bottom of the crown, 1 bead for every 2 stitches.  In the pattern, there is no turning at the end of the rounds, but for the beaded round, I did turn it, since the beads are all at the back of a single crochet stitch.

Making the crown itself was not difficult.  It's only 13 rounds.  It wasn't until I got to the very last row that I realized why the pattern called for 2 balls of thread.  I was doing the many, many picots at the top when I realized I would run out of thread.

By about 2 feet.  Maybe.

Well, I was not about to go buy another ball for that little, and I wasn't too keen on the picots, anyhow.  So I redid the last round without the picots, and liked it much better.

It also left me enough thread to do a finishing round of single crochet along the bottom of the crown, which tidied it up and made it much nicer.

Now then.  If you've ever worked with crochet lace, you can probably guess what my next step needed to be.

Blocking it.

But how?

So I started to do some searches on how to block a crochet lace crown.

What I found were patterns.  And more patterns.  Free patterns and patterns for sale.  Adults crowns and children's crowns.  Fine lacy ones and chunky, dense ones.  There are so many patterns out there for crochet crowns!  And patterns for sale that had "blocking instructions included."

But no blocking instructions.

I did at least figure out that I wanted to block it so that it would permanently hold its shape and, with liquid starch apparently gone the way of the dodo, chose to go with a white glue based blocking liquid.

I was still left with the problem of how to block it.  I had lots of ideas in mind, but they all had flaws.

So I did what I usually do.

I winged it.

I decided to block it using a small, plastic garbage bin as a form.

Since I wouldn't be able to pin the crown to the bin itself, that meant I had to pre-block the crown some other way.

Which is why this is a two part post.

In this part, I have a step by step on how I pre-blocked the crown before I permanently blocked it on the form.



To begin, here is the finished crown, looking all lumpy and bumpy.










As you can see, it slid down pretty far on the bin.  I was hoping that, in pre-blocking it, I could be able to stretch the lace upwards enough that the base might actually tighten up a bit.

Blocking something that's round is always a challange.  In this case, I also wanted to make sure not to stretch the base in any way.  My solution was to use one of the most useful things in my craft room.

Styrofoam insulation.

That stuff is awesome.  I honestly don't know what I would do without it.  I've got the 2 inch thick type, which is ideal, and it's easy to cut the length and height to whatever I need.

I had some already cut down to block a cowl, so I cut part of it down so that the crown would fit loosely around it.

The great part about doing that is I could block front and back at the same time.

Handy.

Normally, I would wet block something like this, but this time, I chose to dry block it, just to keep the mess down.


The adult size crown has 5 distinct, overlapping sections.  This allowed me to pin out two on one side, one on the other.

Since one of my main focuses was to keep the bottom of the crown straight, without any stretching or distortion, I made sure to pin it down first, and very, very thoroughly.  I put a pin at the top of every double crochet, above the beaded round.


I then pinned the center point of the curved section, followed by the points of the triangular sections, stretching them upwards as far as I felt I could, without distorting the stitches.  After that, I pinned each point of the curved section, trying to match the heights and distances of each opposing pair as much as I could.




Once pinned, I held it over a sink and poured water over each side until the cotton seemed saturated.  This photo is of the now-wet cotton.

Can't really tell that it's wet, I guess.  You'll just have to trust me. LOL

















The next day, I unpinned the sections and turned the crown around so that I could do the remaining two sections.

Here, you can clearly see how much difference blocking makes!

In this photo, you can also see the seam of where each round began and ended.



Just a closer view of one of the remaining sections, after being pinned and soaked.

I left it to dry overnight again.




















Let's take a look at the crown before it was blocked once more...











 ... and compare it to after blocking.


Each "point", instead of having 3 picots, as in the orignal pattern, is simply shells of 2dc, 2ch, 2dc.  By pinning into the 2ch space, it created defined points, rather than the curved shape the shells before blocking.

I much prefer this simpler variation to the triple picots.  I appreciate it even more, not having to try and pin out each picot!  I would have run out of pins. LOL

And here's a closer view of the triangular section with the seam, and the beaded row.

Next up, wet blocking the crown into its permanent shape.

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