I admit that I can be a bit of a yarn snob and really only like to work with wools and other natural fibers.  I just don’t like how acrylic feels under my fingers and I can usually knit a sweater with a basic wool like Knit Picks WOTA for less than the cost of lunch out for me, I don’t even bother with acrylic.

That said, I sometimes have to reach for an acrylic or a blend every now and then for specific projects like this cowl.  I found a really amazing stitch that I thought would make a pretty cool cowl or gaiter and went about figuring out how to knit it in the round.  After about 3 inches into the project, I realized that I’d have to block this sucker and it would be a bit harder than just soaking it and laying it out on a towel in the corner of the living room.

Let’s look at the before.  It’s cute but not at all what I envisioned.

I dampened the cowl slightly and pinned it to my ironing board and got my iron ready.  To merely block the cowl, turn on the steam (or use a garment steamer but mine has somehow grown legs and walked off a couple of weeks ago.  My house is not that big; there are only so many places it can hide but I can’t find it anywhere…)  You want to hover over the piece WITHOUT touching the iron to the piece.  You don’t want to melt your piece to your iron.  I don’t know what would be worse – messing up your iron or messing up the piece you just spent hours making…  Pat your piece into place.  If I have areas of texture like this guy, I like to pinch the areas that need a little more definition.

Blocking Acrylic Yarn
I’m hovering over the piece without touching the iron to it.

Now let it cool and dry overnight.  Look at how that opens up the work, evens everything out and just finishes off the piece!

If you want to KILL your piece, (that term is just so scary but the process is pretty painless), you can place a piece of fabric between your iron and gently touch the iron down on the piece.  I do not put any weight on the piece but tap and lift, tap and lift.  “Killing” the yarn removes the elasticity from it and makes it permanent (by essentially melting the yarn slightly).  You get a much softer and gentle drape to the finished piece by killing it.  Killing your finished piece gives it more of a commercial, “store bought” feel so keep that in the back of your head when you’re knitting for those tweens or older kids who are too cool to be caught dead wearing something homemade (even though the stuff we all make is WAAAAYYYYYYY cooler than anything you can get in a store…)