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Crochet basket

Have you ever needed to firm crochet or knitting when making something which requires structured sides or firm shapes? Well, here are five easy ways to make your knitted and crocheted designs stiffen.

1. Change your needle size. The label on your ball of yarn will tell you which needle size is recommended to use for that particular yarn. A knitter with average tension will use the suggested needle size to achieve a fabric with some elasticity and flexibility which will hold its shape.

By choosing a smaller than recommended needle (this also applies for crochet), you can make your fabric far denser. This is a technique often used in patterns for toys.

2. Use two strands of yarn instead of one. Work with the needle you’d intended to use with a single strand with two instead. This will make for a very thick and close fabric, but you’ll need double the amount of yarn.

3. Felt your finished knit. 100% animal fibre yarns such as wool, mohair or alpaca, providing they aren’t labelled ‘superwash’, will shrink and turn into thick felt when washed at a warm temperature.

Pop your finished item into the washing machine (with a couple of tennis balls or with a pair of old jeans, to add friction) on a normal 40 degree wash and don’t use fabric softener. If it doesn’t shrink enough first time round, you can always go a second or third time. This technique is often used in making bags.

4. Stiffen your knit with a liquid. There are lots of different solutions that you can use to chemically firm a fabric; spray-on starch from the supermarket, sugar solution, potato flour and a 50% water 50% PVA glue solution, all work well.

Simply immerse your finished item in the fluid until it has soaked through, squeeze off any excess and reshape and leave to dry. This technique is often used for Christmas decorations and doilies.

5. Knit-in some beading wire. Wire is very harsh on your hands and has sharp ends so you’ll need to be very be careful, but using a mouldable beading wire is a great way to make a fabric which you can bend and shape.

Knit one strand of wire in addition to the strand of yarn that you are using already and you will find that your finished knit is malleable, but easily bent and moulded into your desired shape. This technique is used with our Teardrop Earrings Crochet Pattern.