Monday, March 4, 2019

Illustrator, artist and cartoonist

If you are interested in an artist that will impact Australia's modern art scene; Dana Lawson is someone to familiarise yourself with. (Eryngium Miasma; the Art of Dana Lawson).

I have had the pleasure of reviewing the work of this young artist and highly recommend perusing her opus. (links listed below).

As a published cartoonist her rendering of fantasy characters surpasses the wildest imagination.
Her cast of captivating dramatis personae burst to life with articulation and physiognomy.

Dana's use of colour is vibrant while creating atmosphere. Her pieces are visually stimulating and exciting. She has a rare talent of awaking her troupe, giving the viewer insight into their individual personalities.

This, 'up and coming', artist and cartoonist, is preceded by progenitors with their own expertise and flair.

Jenny Augenia Lawson is a prolific and experienced artisan. Working in many different media, wire, beading and an authority on fiber craft, Jenny is a known mastercraftsman, (Craft Cove).

Dana's father, Peter. J. Lawson, is also a published cartoonist. His skill and talent has been pursued resulting in his own comic, 'Torn', (Pestiferous Picturing: The Art of Peter J. Lawson).

The collective mastery of the Lawson clan, and their dedication to the visual arts and artistry, has produced a rising talent in Dana Lawson.

It has been an ocular indulgence to explore the oeuvre of this competent young creator.

Published in 2018 through Reverie Publications, privileged comic fans were thrilled with Dana's vibrant production and flamboyant personages.

To verbally convey the simplicity, yet complexity, of her musing band of fantasia ménage, is a task in futility.

To truly comprehend and relish this escapade into a cosmos of alien individuals only a first hand encounter will suffice.

I urge a visit to one of her links for those with a contemporary and discerning artistic eye . The visit will reward you with vibrant vertuosity, teeming with unique species and reverie beyond your uninhibited ideas of creation, originality and invention.

I cordially invite you to meet Dana's motley crew.

Delight your senses and step into this exhilarating world that is Eryngium Miasma by Dana Lawson.

Written by:
Jo-Anne Swain
Artist (oil, acrylic, pastels)
Awarding winning relief print artist
Master Spinner and Complex weaver
Fiber artist.

Links for Dana Lawson:

Links for Jenny Augenia Lawson:

Links for Peter. J. Lawson:

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Monday, January 21, 2019

Blocking FAQ

Blocking FAQs

I have been crocheting for a very long time. At the time of writing this it’s been about 45 years. I’ve learnt a lot in that time

Here is my take on blocking crochet

What Is Blocking?

Blocking is a term used to describe the process of pinning the crochet out to the proper shape and size. There are several methods used

See How to Block for step by step instructions

Is Blocking Really Necessary?

People often ask if blocking is necessary

The bottom line is that there are no hard and fast rules. You can do what you want, it's your crochet

BUT if you want your work to look professional and clean, blocking will help

Blocking helps the stitches stand out, gives them each their own clear space. It also sets the work to a particular shape and size. It can also stretch the item slightly, if needed

But do you need to do it to everything you crochet?

Not really. If you're making a doily or snowflakes, it's definitely worth it. But if you are crocheting blocks for a blanket, and they're all going to be joined up, it's probably not worth it, unless the sizes are too different

Is Blocking Permanent?


If you block acrylic with heat, it will be permanent

Cotton and wool will need a little bit of blocking after each wash

Can You Press Rather Than Block?

Again, it's up to you

  • it will flatten the stitches
  • you will not be able to set the work to a particular shape
  • if it's acrylic, it may melt your work, and stick to the iron

What Tools are Required For Blocking?

  • something firm that pins can be pinned into
  • rust-proof pins
  • spray bottle
  • towels or plastic
  • measuring tape
  • optional, steam iron or steamer
  • optional, blocking templates

What can you use as a blocking board

Any firm flat surface that you can put pins in will do

Any type of foam mats, including kids play puzzle mats, floor tiles, or yoga mats

Just a few layers of cardboard wrapped in cling wrap (I like this when I use a template underneath)

A carpeted piece of floor, covered with towels

Even a mattress covered with lots of towels or plastic

Or you can buy proper blocking boards that have grids on them

If you need to block a lot of squares for a blanket, you can put nails onto a wooden square board. Or drill holes that can have small dowels put in

Do you block squares before joining or after?

If the crochet you are doing has many pieces, such as granny square blocks being joined together, or clothing, you will need to block the pieces individually first, before joining

What if it's a big piece?

You can put down lots of towels on the floor, or bed, and pin to that

Is it difficult to do?

No, it’s very easy

How do you know where to block so the piece isn't over stretched?

You push it slightly outwards with your hands. This means it’s only slightly pushed out, and not really stretched

How do you do it without damaging the stitches?

Don’t overstretch the item. Use lots of pins

Temp of water, how long in water or is it sprayed?

For the temperature, it’s a good idea to check the label on the yarn. But if you don’t have it, or are unsure, lukewarm water, or even cold is fine.

Just up to 5 or 10 minutes is long enough to soak

Just a spray is also fine, but my preference is to saturate it all thoroughly

How long to dry?

This can vary on temperature of the room, humidity, and dampness of the piece

A hairdryer (on cool setting) can help, or a fan

Tips for Wool vs acrylic vs cotton etc.

Be careful to not overwork wool, or it may felt.

Some people believe acrylic can’t be blocked, but I completely disagree with that. Blocking works perfectly on acrylic, and is generally permanent. If you overheat it, you might “kill” it, ie, it will go limp. But even when killed, it is still useful, and very soft

Cotton, works well with steam blocking, but any other method is also fine

What pins to use

  • You can use any pins that don’t rust
  • brass or stainless steel are good options
  • nickel plated pins may rust
  • wedding dress pins or t pins are generally rust-proof
  • you can also buy specific blocking pins and wires
  • Another option is to use toothpicks

How to pin?

Pin the center. Then press the item outwards from the centre, using your fingers. Pin again. Press outwards again, pin again. Continue like this until you reach the outer edges

I like to use a template under plastic matching the circles to points on the crochet, so I can keep it even

Do you flip it to dry other side?

No, you pin right side up only

Is there any chance that colours will run during the blocking process? What can I do if I’m concerned about this?

This will depend on your yarn. It would be best to test before starting the crochet.

But if you don’t know, try soaking in a vinegar solution for half an hour, and rinse thoroughly. Salt can also help

How wet does it have to be?

The item doesn’t even have to be wet, you can block when it’s dry. But I don’t find this very effective.

I think damp, but not dripping, then steamed, is most effective

You can press it in a towel to get some extra moisture out

But any stage of dampness will do

Wash?? & with what? Or... just dampen?

It’s a good idea to take this opportunity to wash the item. But this is very much personal choice. Launder with your usual detergent that is suitable for the fibre

It can be dampened, by saturating in water, and squeezing out excess water, and/or squeezing in a towel

Or it can be blocked dry, then steamed (I find this not as effective)

Do you have to do it after each wash

Generally, yes. But if acrylic has been done with heat, it will be permanent, and won’t need to be done after each wash

Other fibres will need a bit of blocking after each wash. But this will mostly just be a case of drying flat and shaping

How do I block items that are not square or round, for example a snowflake made for a Christmas decoration

The same way, but it’s a good idea to use a template to make sure the snowflake is even

What can go wrong?

The only thing I can think of is pulling too hard, and not using enough pins at the very edges of the work, creating scalloped edges and points

You can prevent this by pushing the work to the edges, and using lots of pins before, and/or at the edges

Blocking wires can also help with this

What is a blocking template?

This is basically a piece of paper with the shape of the item on it. It has sequential circles/squares an equal distance apart and a lot of markings to help measure your piece to a set shape and size.

For square or rectangle items you only need a grid, and many forms of foam blocks will already have that

When it comes to circles, doilies or snowflakes. You will need a circle guide with the same number of spokes as the points on your snowflake, doily or circle. If your item doesn’t have points, match the number of starting stitches with number of spokes instead

There are some great templates here by Kate Crochets

How do you use a blocking template?

If you already have a blocking board with grids or markings, you won’t need one

But if you don’t, my preferred way is to print out the template on the usual A4 paper. Then put it into a plastic sleeve protector, and place it onto the board.

If the item is a bit larger, you can print the template with the poster option on the computer, printing it out on 4 or more pages. The pages then get joined together on the blocking board

If the item is very large, it’s not even necessary to have a template. But a measuring tape would be useful to keep the measurements on all sides even

Do you need to use a blocking template?

No, but it will keep your work even and professional looking

See how to do it here:

Have you found this useful?  Please comment below

And feel free to share this blog, but please give me credit for it, and don't share parts of it

Monday, January 14, 2019

Crochet Blocking 101

How to Block

Blocking is a term used to describe the process of pinning the crochet out to the proper shape and size. It separates the stitches and relaxes them into shape.

I have been crocheting for close to 50 years (at the time of writing this), and these are some of the ways I do it

See FAQs for more information (coming soon)

Tools required

  • something firm that pins can be pinned into
  • rust-proof pins
  • spray bottle
  • towels or plastic
  • measuring tape
  • optional, steam iron or steamer
  • optional, blocking templates


The first step is to sew in all loose ends of the crochet item

Then you need to choose your blocking mat. (see FAQs for ideas)

Make sure you have one large enough to lay your item flat

Now is a good opportunity to wash your crochet item if desired, and rinse well

If not, decide whether you want to do a dry steam block or wet block, or spay only

For wet blocking only. Submerge the item fully, and soak for several minutes.
Remove and squeeze well. Do not wring

Roll into a towel, and press to remove more moisture

Blocking square or rectangle items

Line up and pin along one edge, not stretching but pull slightly to spread stitches

Measure the edge, and pull the left side down to match the measurement. 

If you have a grid you can easily line it up. Do the same with the bottom and side of the item

Remove pins, and repin as needed until every edge measures the same

Push the crochet across, rather than stretch with pins

Be sure to use a lot of pins on the outside edge, or pin in a row very close to the edge instead of the last row. 

Don’t pull pins in the last row too much, avoiding a scalloped edge

Be careful not to get the scalloped edge


Blocking circles and snowflakes

Decide on your blocking template, matching number of spokes, if you’re using one. I prefer to use one on round items to get the shape even

I like the ones from here:

Some people just stretch the outer edge, this just stretches the stitches, and may make the work uneven. It's a much better idea to put pins in at regular intervals

Line up the center of the wet or dry item with the center of the template or board. Pin it in the center

Decide on a row of the doily close to the center. Line up with the spokes of the template. Push it towards the outside, pin.

Line up another spoke with the same row of crochet, pin again

Do this all the way around. 

Then decide on another row, and repeat the process

Continue until you reach the edge of the crochet item

Have a close look at the item, to see if everything is even, and if any more pins are needed

Be sure to use a lot of pins on the outside edge, or pin in a row very close to the edge instead of the last row. Don’t pull pins in the last row too much, avoiding a scalloped edge

If you choose to spray block, spray all over, making it slightly damp and then leave it somewhere to dry thoroughly

Steaming All Shapes

Now you can either spray with water till damp and then steam the item, or just steam on the dry item

To steam, use a steamer, or iron on highest setting with steam selected

Hold the iron or steamer about 5 cm away from item, and hold for 10 -15 seconds in each section before going to another. Do not touch the iron to the item

Until the whole item has been steamed

Leave the item in an airy place until cold and fully dry, possibly more than one day

When fully dry remove the pins

And it's done

Have a question?  It might be answered here.

Have you found this useful?  Please comment below

And feel free to share this blog, but please give me credit for it, and don't share parts of it

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