blocking needlework


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Oct 20, 2003
Northeast US
When blocking needle art, what do you dampen it with? I've heard that some folks use water mixed with isopropyl alcohol. What is the advantage of that compared to water alone? I've also heard of a product called "relaxant"? Does anyone know exactly what that might be?

Thanks for any information.
Wow. Coming up on you second year anniversary of being on the Grumble...

When you decided to post a new topic and ask a question... did you notice that just low and to the right of the "New Topic" button was a strange word that looks like "search".

If you had posed your question to the search, and set your peramitors just right, you could have had the answer on 6 different threads.. One that was just this month....

Sorry for FrankenFridaying, carry on.
I block it upside down, then mist it with water in a plant mister, rubbing the droplets in with my hand. Works most every time... Relaxant is alcohol and water.
Baer, I did the search and found 3 threads, read them and had MORE questions. Sorry if they were covered in the other threads that I didn't find.

Thank you Ellen for answering.

Do people who use alcohol on the fabric use it because it dries more quickly? Does it leave any residue?
Maybe we all need lessons on using the search function.
Sometimes I have a tough time finding what I'm looking for too!
A good steam iron with a press cloth usually works. Your own mix of water and alcohol, or as Ellen suggested, is good. Do not use the canned spray relaxants as they contain more than just alcohol and water.
Sorry Framanista, it was just overflow and you didn't deserve it.

As Ellen said. One of those handy dandy pegging boards are well worth the small price.

Alcohol is a relaxant, so don't use it before you start doing something strenuous like blocking. I usually wait untill I'm home... :D

About a Tablespoon in a pint of distilled water makes a huge difference. But if you can get it to block out with just DISTILLED water, it's better not to contaminate the project.
Just make sure that you don't get the canvas out near the edges wet. When it says that it will relax the canvas, it's not kidding! The canvas will fall apart.

What holds the canvas together is the starch. If it gets too wet, the starch will let go. Then you don't have canvas... you have threads. (Expencive threads)

(And no... I am not the one who ruined a needlepoint canvas. One of my customers did.)
(And I've done all of hers ever since.)
The alcohol breaks water's surface tension, allowing it to penetrate better. It increases water's wetting power, and is called a "wetting agent".

Remember that old kitchen science experiment, when you see the water in a tablespoon arch up in a dome? Alcohol or other fluids can't do that. That's because the hydrogens in water - H2O - form inter molecular bonds with the the oxygen atoms in adjacent water molecules.

So water alone tends to just bead up on surfaces, especially wool which is rather water repellent anyway. Alcohol is similar enough to the structure of water to mix with it, but dissimilar enough to break up the hydrogen bonds, allowing the water to pool out and wet better.

Detergents do the same thing, but alcohols evaporate away, and detergents do not.

Clear as mud?