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I am sure someone can give you a better explanation than I can, but as I understand it, acrylic yarn is basically plastic. When you block it with a hot object like an iron, and you heat it so long/hot that it kind of melts. It may still have the same stitch pattern but it loses its loft. I have done it accidentally and the yarn changes in consistency -- it changed in color, became shiny, and had no elasticity at all. That can be good if you want that look, but in general, I never do.
 

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As acrylic is a manmade fibre, the body of the yarn is set by heat. If you use too much heat or steam on a finished item, you take out the kinks in the fibres and they become smooth and lifeless, thus killing the yarn. Sometimes this is a desirable finish, but mostly, for garments, you want the fibres to retain their bulk for warmth and softness. If an acrylic item does need pressing, a warm (not hot) iron over a dry cloth, without any steam is all that is needed. As Barbara said, you usually only need to wash and dry the item.
 

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I recently made the "Bounce" baby blanket by Tin Can Knits (pattern on Ravelry) out of Lion Brand Homestead acrylic yarn. I purposely "killed" it with a fabric steamer in order to open the lace pattern. The yarn still has elasticity and did not get crunchy or shiney. The blanket has more drape and is still squishy and soft.
 

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I've been blocking sweaters, afghans, etc., that were made from acrylic for years and years and have never had a problem with "killing" the yarn. Maybe people are using too hot of an iron? I just turn my stuff wrongside out and press away. I use steam to lightly steam the garment/blanket/whatever to the point where I think it looks "blocked". So, I guess, if you use a warm, not hot iron, it's fine to block anything acrylic.
 

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I'd never heard of this before. Even with acrylics I block the pieces because the assembly of the pieces is easier. I put a damp tea towel over the pieces and hold the steam iron above them.

I have dried some acrylic sweaters before and they get droopy which I don't particularly like but it's just easier. I usually shampoo my sweaters and dry them flat. The wool ones I have dry cleaned.
 

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the-pearl-hunter said:
Please could someone explain what killing the Acrylic is.

What it does to the yarn?

How does it do it?

Many thanks
Margaret UK
If you block acrylic with one of the correct methods, it will not be 'killed'....lose the definition of the stitches, or worse if you place a hot object directly on top of it. Go to the top of this KP page and click on Search. You will find many different and safe methods to block your acrylic items. I am sure others here already have or will provide you with lots of good advice.
 

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Ellie61knit said:
The thought of killing it, and not being able to resuscitate it, is very scary to me. I can see why it would be a good thing with something like a shawl to improve the drape. I just can't make myself do it. I made a shawl with a lovely light weight acrylic for a wool allergic friend and it didn't block as well as my natural fiber shawls do but I couldn't make myself kill it.
If you pin a shawl down on your blocking board, after it dries it will go back to its original size once you unpin it. If while it is on the board and dry, you can lightly steam it and it will then hold it's shape and you would have killed the yarn.
 
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