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On Blocking Boards

Jul 17, 2007

Spray blocking on a blocking board

After years of blocking my knitting and crocheting on kitchen counters, floors, and dryer tops, I finally broke down this weekend and ordered an Official Blocking Board (from Webs—thanks, Kathy and Steve!). I'd been telling myself for years that I didn't need anything fancier—that is, until I started dealing with a serious lace habit. One day, I tried blocking my Flower Basket Shawl on a makeshift foam board that I thought was waterproof ... but guess what. It wasn't. The board warped as the shawl dried, and the shawl warped along with it. I ended up having to re-block the shawl all over again. (Not fun, especially when I was anxious to wear it and show it off!)

A blocking board definitely makes the task of blocking a lace shawl easier, but you don't need an Official Blocking Board to do the job well. Knitters have been using mattresses, towel-padded floors, and other ingenious solutions throughout history. Since we have a company full of knitters here, I wondered what other Interweave folks might use. I sent out a quick email survey asking other editors about their blocking tips, and I'll be sharing those with you over the next few posts.

Amanda Berka, assistant editor of Interweave Felt and Spin-Off magazines, says "I usually lay my pieces out to dry on top of my dryer or washing machine. Then I don’t have to worry about the dampness damaging the surface or being absorbed. However, I have had to block shawls on the guest bed. I don’t own any 'special' blocking tools although I am currently drooling at the thought of a blocking board—who am I kidding ... I don’t really NEED it."

Kim Werker, editor of Interweave Crochet, says, "I now use a store-bought blocking board; I used to use a mattress. I'll never want to block on a non-grid board again. Those
Blocking The Tomato
inch squares make blocking to size so easy!" Kim has a great tutorial on spray-blocking using a blocking board.

Whatever creative solution you come up with for use as a blocking surface, be sure to keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Use the right surface for the task. A kitchen counter-top or a table padded with towels works fine for pieces that can be simply patted into shape, such as my Tomato. For items that need to be pinned out, such as lace shawls, you can try waterproof foam-core boards, an ironing board (for small pieces), or cork bulletin boards (covered with towels). Someone in the comments suggested those interlocking rubber floor mats used for children's play areas—I thought that was rather clever.
  • Make sure the surface is water-friendly. All blocking methods involve water in some way, so make sure that water will not ruin whatever you are using. Note: This includes surfaces that may have dyes that might bleed through when wet!
  • Make sure that the surface is easily accessible. If you have arthritis in your knees, a set of rubber mats on the floor may not be the best choice for you, especially for anything lacy that takes a long time to pin out.
  • Your blocking surface has to be big enough for the biggest dimension of your knitting. You can't really block half of a scarf at a time, so the top of the dryer won't work well for large or long pieces.
  • The surface has to be something you won't need to use for other things for a day or three whilst your piece is drying. I've known some knitters to use their bed for blocking; this can be problematic if the knitting will take days to dry (unless you like sleeping on the floor).
  • Put your blocking out of the way. Your blocked piece needs to be undisturbed until it is completely dry, so keep
    Version 1, before I re-did neckline and sleeves
    it out of range of cats, kids, dogs, and well-meaning housemates.

Anyone have other clever ideas for blocking surfaces? Of course, I shouldn't ask this, because one of you is bound to come up with an elegantly simple solution now that I've finally broken down and bought myself an actual blocking board!




More Q&A From Your Comments

Paula B. asked about eliminating uncomfortable underarm bunching and noted that my Tomato seemed bunchy there as well.The first version of my Tomato had even more noticeable bunching. For Version II, I (a) picked up fewer stitches at the underarm; (b) worked two rounds of decreases on either side of the underarm; and (c) worked fewer rounds overall for the sleeve. I'm making a second Hot Tomato (yes...this one will be called Hot Chocolate!) and I'll be working on refining this in Version III.

Sally T. asked if I had made the Tomato to go with my bracelet, and Charmaine asked if the neckline had been modified to include a teal accent. The teal you see at my neckline is a favorite camisole of mine. My Tomato is hot enough that it shows a little cleavage(!), and it's a family website, after all! The bracelet is one I made for the June/July 2007 issue of our sister magazine, Beadwork. I like teal, what can I say?

Pat F. says that one really does need to block all garments, including those knit in the round. And Pat is absolutely correct. I was cheating. Just because I could wear the top before it was blocked (because I didn't need to seam it) doesn't mean that the top looked its best when I did wear it. Note that my hands are artfully posed so as to hide some of the wonkier bits. My Tomato is being blocked as I type this. (On my kitchen counter, as the board has not arrived yet....)


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Comments

mrsnoache wrote
on Jan 4, 2011 11:54 AM

My current favorite for blocking is an old foam exercise mat.

EdithH wrote
on Dec 26, 2008 8:13 AM
For blocking I use a heavy white vinyl table cloth liner, I was just going to throw it away and when WOW!. I can fold it to what ever size I need and I place it on my family room floor that is carpeted. Because its vinyl its water proof. I don't have to worry about any color or dye running onto my project. I place heavy books at the four corners if I think it might shift from the pulling of my yarn. I am then able to place pins in my project and everyone in the house knows Not To STep On It. Works great and is cheap and reuseable.
zoomingirl wrote
on Dec 3, 2008 11:05 PM
Now that my youngest is in a twin size bed, I've taken the "platform," as the directions called it, the wooden thing the matress rests on, and covered it with lawn and leaf trash bags. I put one on each end and duct taped them together where they overlap. I cover that with thick velour beach towels. This works great. You easily can move it around if you need to. I even blocked a knitted in the round fairisle sweater on it. It wouldn't be large enough for a triangular shawl, though. I'm going to get the kids interlocking foam pieces, they sound like they're the most versatile for my needs. Thanks for the great ideas, everyone!
CTGirl wrote
on Dec 3, 2008 11:05 AM
I used to block on my ironing board using my steam iron. It took forever to do the afghan panels I generally knit. Then I read on another site a really great hint. I bought at joanne's a dressmaking cutting board. It is marked in 1" grids , is 36" wide and 72" long which is just about the size of my dining room table with one leaf. I covered it with the Press n' seal plastic available in the grocery store. As for blocking wires, went to Michael's and in the floral section, bought 14 gague floral wire (18" lengths - if green, make sure you wipe them down before using - for $2 for 12 of them) which I weave along the edges of my knitting. I use T-pins in intervals to secure my project to the plastic covered board. I then use a sprayer with cool water and thoroughly wet the project. I leave it in this out of the way place until dry. It seems to work beautifully. sue
JessicaL@2 wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 11:00 PM
When an item is too big for my terrific "real" blocking board, I use a queen-sized gingham flat sheet. It could be used over foam, a spare bed, interlocking tiles, or simply on the carpet in the basement, as I do (for the same reasons as Deborah, who commented above, does). The squares make it simple to line up edges neatly and accurately.
DeborahT wrote
on Jul 28, 2007 6:46 PM
Sounds silly, but I block things on my basement floor. I am blessed with a nice dry basement, the floor is carpeted in wall-to-wall berber, the cats are not allowed down there, and it's big enough to handle anything! I use lacemakers' brass pins and blocking wires to hold things in place.
on Jul 28, 2007 7:30 AM
I used wide bias tape and "jewel glue" to hinge insulation boards, making a stack that unfolds like those car insulation boards. Hinge 2 sets, then turn over to make the opposite hinge to fit those together. A few spare "planks" extend the edges as needed. My 4x8 board has one hinge and is held off the floor with tray tables while pinning. Then down to the floor or add another table to support the extension. Just string and t-pins for big pieces.
on Jul 24, 2007 8:10 PM
I'm tired of looking at that "Tomato" sweater! Frankly, it's not very flatering. Please, please, find some fresh examples to illustrate your tips. Thanks!
Bmac wrote
on Jul 23, 2007 6:02 AM
I put a plastic tablecloth on my dining room table and then beach towels. It's a large surface and I don't have to worry about the water. The dining room table doesn't get used every day so things can stay undesturbed until dry.
ShannonD wrote
on Jul 22, 2007 8:41 PM
I live and knit in the Southeast Alaskan rainforest, where evaporation is nonexistent. Blocking is a serious hassle, because an item can take a week or ten days to dry! Do you have any tips on blocking methods that involve less water?
Charmaine wrote
on Jul 22, 2007 1:55 AM
I use a cheap foam yoga mat with a towel on top. It wasn't getting used for yoga very much!
SallyI wrote
on Jul 22, 2007 12:58 AM
My blocking board is made from puzzle like pieces of foam intended to make a soft floor for children to play on or for workers to stand on. They are black on one side and bright red, green, yellow or blue on the other side. There are 8 pieces 2' X 2' each. They fit together to make a variety of sizes for blocking and they come apart for easy storage. The surface is dimpled and textured so lining up the pins is easy. the foam is thick enough to poke the pins into and the pins stay put.

Sally Ingram
RuthC@4 wrote
on Jul 21, 2007 8:31 AM
I block a lot of shawl so need a large surface, I've found using a foam mattress cover puts the job at a good height and accommodates most of the shawls
seldsalt wrote
on Jul 20, 2007 9:21 PM
I'm another one who favors the interlocking foam floor mats. Mine came from Costco, a package of 5 for about $10, each one about 2 1/2' square and marked with a relief pattern that helps align the pinning. By using only as many as I need, I can shuffle around to accommodate either wide or long items. And, as another commenter noted, they stand up so that they aren't as cat-attractive.

For the commenter who asked about blocking superwash, I have found it makes a big difference in how it looks, especially for the assembly if you're seaming in pieces--you can block the sizes out smoothly to the same dimensions so you're not stretching or gathering as you sew. I've even blocked 100% acrylic--it benefits from a bath and the evening out of stitches that blocking provides. It's time and fiddling, but it results in a much more finished-looking item.
RitaW wrote
on Jul 20, 2007 5:37 PM
My response to those who are asking about sock blocking; for superwash fibers it is probably not necesary but for natural fibers, blocking makes the socks look and fit much better. I wash in mesh bag in the machine (or hand wash if really special yarn) and spin out excess water. I use wood or plastic sock blockers (available from most yarn shops or online); just pull each sock onto blocker and hang over hook to dry.
Rita
GJabouri wrote
on Jul 20, 2007 2:22 PM
To Laurel Z: The cork wall tiles are available at OSH, and at Office Depot (Office Depot even has larger cork "sheets", about poster size), but they are relatively thin - about 1/4 inch.
Bsproat wrote
on Jul 20, 2007 12:09 PM
I join with those who've requested a blocking primer. I understand the basic concept, and all the comments about specific tools, etc. are great -- but exactly HOW do you do it?? In particular, how do you use steam? -- Do you hover the steam iron over the pinned garment?? And...are you supposed to block the pieces of a sweater separately before sewing them together, or sew it up first? (I have all the pieces of a sweater finished but not put together, because I have blocking/finishing anxiety and have become paralyzed! ~Bobbie
DianaH@2 wrote
on Jul 20, 2007 9:36 AM
I work in a knit shop so we are blocking things all the time. Our favorite for blocking shawls is a 4x8 piece of exterior house insulation. You lay it on it's side and lean it up against the yarn bins. Works great!!!
MaryAnnR wrote
on Jul 20, 2007 5:20 AM
Have known how to knit for ages, but have just recently become really hooked on sock knitting (or should that be needled on sock knitting?)?. Do you need to block socks? Doesn't the foot shape the sock? Could be that every single bit of knitting needs to be blocked, but I'm just not sure.
thanks
JenniferH wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 10:32 PM
OT: about joint replacement in hands.
I'm going to have the joints replaced where my thumb connects with the wrist [slightly above]. Being unable to knit, now, & soon to be stuck in a cast, I'm counting on everyone for my 'knitting for the absent' fix!
Meanwhile, must spin a decent skein for the county fair, as I don't know if I'll be able to spin, either!
So, send my wonderful knitting vibes..... Jennifer
LaurelZ wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 8:36 PM
I've often thought about making a blocking board from those cork wall tiles that used to be trendy during my 1970s childhood. I don't know if you can even buy them anymore
KaelaC wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 6:42 PM
I block on the carpet (we have the type of carpet seen in cubicle filled offices world wide - ugh) so the pins stick in really well. To help with keeping things dry, I cut up two of those big trash bags and lay them on the carpet before pinning/shaping.
GJabouri wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 3:27 PM
Okay, this has nothing to do with today's post, but check out THIS project: http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_1879263.html
:-)
KrisN wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 3:26 PM
I must thank you for this subject. I never realized the importance of blocking a garment before
Nancy@6 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 2:01 PM
I use something called a Perfect Press that I bought at JoAnn's a few years ago. I think it's really designed for seamstresses to use as an ironing surface, but it works great for me. It's a layer of foam between a gridded top (20" x 60") and a teflon-coated bottom. I use it on a big table in my workroom and the bottom seems to protect the table from moisture, but the pins do tend to go all the way through, so my table is probably getting scratched a little bit. I actually cut it in half and can put the pieces side by side for wider items. But now as I'm reading all these posts, I realize I have the perfect new use for the double bed that my oldest son is about to vacate as he heads off to college in a few weeks - a great big, available blocking surface - yay!
LindaF@2 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 1:31 PM
I love my blocking board & I can't understand why I waited so long to order it. If you knit lace, you really need a proper board. In place of the long metal blocking rods, I use my old long skinny knitting needles to weave in & out along the edge of a nes piece of lace. Linda F.
ElizabethB@2 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 1:22 PM
I have found two items useful for blocking. The first is a crib pad. When I have large items to block, I do it on a bed with the crib pad underneath to keep the bed dry. The second item is something I think is made for quilters. It looks like an ironing board cover, but it's 2' x 5' with a grid and various other lines printed on it. It is waterproof and heat proof. I can pin stuff to it, and roll it up in the closet when not in use. With lighweight items that are well-pinned (e.g. lace), I find it convenient to hang it on the back of a door once the item is pinned down (pinned up?), which makes it easy to steam and keeps it out of the way while it's drying.
JaimeG wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 12:54 PM
Do you have to block sweaters again after every time you wash them? I received a gorgeous handknit lace tank made of hemp yarns for Christmas (from IWP), handwashed it for the first time this month and hung it to dry on my drying rack. It now looks like a tent. The bottom hem line is completely out of proportion. Sandi, I almost brought it to you when I was in Loveland this week. Help!
Jen S. wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 12:29 PM
For items that just need to be patted into shape and dried flat, I use our trampoline on a sunny day. The black mesh surface allows air flow from both sides and soaks up heat to dry knits quickly.
Bronwyn wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 12:17 PM
I use the interlocking foam mats to block on- I have some i got that are meant to go under gym equipment. Before that I used kids alphabet mats to block:
http://flickr.com/photos/cimorenegal/566240064/

They are probably the best thing ever, and definitely cheaper than a 'blocking' board. Pins go in easily, they're waterproof, and if you have the bigger ones like I have now and you're not putting to many of them together you can even prop them against a wall so they stop taking up so much space.
KateS wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 12:13 PM
Waiting With Baited Breath For The Shawl Pattern.......
Debbie@5 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 11:52 AM
As far as blocking tools, I had read about softtiles on one of the knit lists and thought they were a great idea ( haven't ordered them yet). They are interlocking foam blocks that can be arranged to any size. website is http://www.softtiles.com/
AmberM wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 11:51 AM
I use playmats from Early Learning Centre, they snap together, are waterproof, lightweight to store and pins go in to them easily. I loved them so much I purchased 2 packs especially for my shawls as they are too large for one pack. I also use stainless wire as blocking wires. Cheap by the metre.
amber in england
LaDonnaB wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 11:49 AM
I'd like to see a primer on basi blocking. I don't 'do' lace but I'm getting into knitting pieces that should be blocked (read: not scarves or felted items). I bet a lot of people are as insecure in their blocking skills as I am.
SidneyJ wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 11:47 AM
I have a blocking board wires. The wires are great for nice straight edges with few pins.
BarbaraH wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 11:39 AM
I've had a marked blocking sheet and an absorbent pad to lay it out on for some time. What a great set of accessories. I put them out on a bed in a spare bedroom and wet block to the correct size in no time with no hassles. I also have a set of blocking wires that save a lot of time and pins for straight edges. Great stuff and not very expensive
MichelleH@4 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 10:59 AM
I feel very lucky with my blocking board. I bought a piece of Styrofoam insulation from Home Depot and used a hot glue gun to cover it with a gingham fabric so I get my little graphs to help me block my pieces straight.
Renee wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 10:38 AM
Hi! I use a corregated cardboard cutting board that I bought at JoAnns. We've all seen or used these, right? I covered mine with clear sticky backed contact paper so I could still see the grid and Viola! Inexpensive and it folds up to store under the bed or in a closet.
~Ren?e
Costumechick wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 10:24 AM
I use a table covered in "Homosote". It is the brand name of a particular type of board used to make "push pin" boards. You can look at their web site for dealers, as the usual Home Depot and Lowes do not carry it. It is the best non-cork push pin surfice I've ever found, and it comes in 4x8 sheets. Most hardware stores will cut it to size for you. My table is a permanent work table, but if I were to make a "home" version, I'd look for fabric woven w/ 1"x1" squares, and neatly cover the Homosote. Very economical, light, and will never fall apart like foam.
KimB@2 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 9:58 AM
I use a sheet of foam core from Staples, with sheets of plastic wrap over it to prevent water from warping the board. If what I'm blocking is bigger than one board, I tape two together with painter's tape.
JoanN@3 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 9:48 AM
I have been using an old window screen to place my damp knitted objects on for blocking and drying. One side of the screen is deeper and I place that side down to allow air flow. Garments dry much faster!
ChristineW@3 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 9:48 AM
I love your bit on blocking and what others use. I made my blocking board from a 24 inch square thin piece of plywood covered with a very thick layer of quilt batting and then some fabric over top. Using small tacks I then tacked it to the back of the board. It comes in really handy when I starch and block doilies but I can also use it as an ironing board too. The REALLY nice thing about it is it fits between my washer and dryer when not in use.
CherylM@2 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 9:31 AM
I bought a foam core board on sale at Michaels for $1, and covered it with vinyl gingham (1 in. checks) tablecloth fabric. I taped the edges down on the back with clear packing tape. Blocking boards seem ridiculously overpriced to me.
CarolynW wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 9:27 AM
LOVE your articles and writing style! That said, if an item is small enough, I block it on towels in my bathtub. A larger piece gets blocked on my dining room table, covered by its protective pads, then covered in turn by towels. If it's a really large item, then it goes on the carpet over lots of towels. All of my knitted items are washed in shampoo, rinsed, and gently squeezed in clean towels (never wrung or twisted) to remove most of the moisture prior to blocking, so the carpet is in no danger. Oddly enough, my very well-behaved cat deftly steps around the drying piece. In rare circumstances, I use pins, but I've found that if I fuss over the piece -- and I do mean fuss -- pins or string are not needed. Nor has there ever been a mildew issue, so these methods work for me.
MeredithM wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 9:25 AM
I live in a VERY small space with hardwood floors and a twin bed. I frequently block half a shawl at a time because at present it is the only way I have found that I can. I have an old pattern cutting mat that seems to work fine when spread out on my bed. It's not ideal, but my blocking results have been quite acceptable.
LynnH wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 9:19 AM
I built myself a blocking frame, loosely based on the free instructions from KnitPicks.com, but with one major upgrade. I bought some cheap polyester lace curtain material, pieced it together to cover the 5'x5' frame, and stretched and stapled it to the outside edge. The taut surface gives me something to pin into, and because the material has lots of holes for air circulation and dries fast all on its own, whatever I block on it dries fast, too, whether I use it laying down on the floor or standing upright. I love it!
AlisonG@4 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 9:12 AM
I have a blocking board, but it's not quite big enough for some of the large lace shawls I knit. So I've taken to blocking most things on the carpet in my guest room. I just put a clean sheet down, and pins stick into the carpet just fine. One tool I couldn't do without though is a set of blocking wires. Particularly for straight edges, it's a huge improvement over pins alone, eliminating the little points you get with pins. I ordered my wires from Knit Picks.
StephanieR wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 8:52 AM
I use my living room floor. I hand wash the piece, and let it mostly dry free form, then after my son has gone to bed I either pin it our use my blocking wires and pin them through the carpet and mat. (My carpet doesn't transfer any color to the piece and if the piece transfers to my carpet I don't care when my son is older I will get a new one) If the piece has dried to much, I moisten it with a spray bottle of water. I make sure I am up before him in the morning and disassemble.
MariaK wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 8:50 AM
For years I have used a Dirtz cutting board which has grids. Yes, it is cardboard and now has water stains but has not warped as board is put on flat surface. The board folds for storing.
Maria Kiser Raleigh NC
SusanD@5 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 8:18 AM
So far, I haven't had to block anything larger than my ironing board can accomodate :O) But
I have a question - what is the correct way to block an item knit in the round? I imagine you would just plop it down and pin the top, bottom and side "seams", but I haven't done it yet and have no idea. Any suggestions?
JessicaB wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 8:18 AM
I bought a piece of foam from Home Depot. I think it is usually used for insulation, but I drew out a grid on it and it works great! I haven't used my bed yet, but I think I might have to for the MS3 since my board is only about 4 1/2 feet long!
CarrollB wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 8:04 AM
I use a cardboard pattern cutting board (36"x60"-available in the sewing "notions" department), covered with heavy-duty clear vinyl. The board and vinyl can be purchased for about $10 total. Both can be folded and stored. I use a hair dryer to relax the folds in the vinyl before starting to block. The board has grid markings and holds t-pins with no problem.
Toodlepip wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 7:58 AM
Everything must be blocked? I'm confused now! I thought only natural fibers were to be blocked. What about something like a 50-50 cotton/acrylic blend?
BarbaraB@2 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 7:32 AM
I use an old window screen covered with towels. I put it on top of my folding clothes dryer. I knit mostley baby and children sweaters so they fit fine.
PamelaR wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 7:12 AM
I block on my bedroom floor with an old sheet, blocking wires and steam (if the piece is dry). Last fall I bought the set of blocking wires. They are essential to me for blocking lace! I re-blocked a lace scarf after I bought the blocking wires and the pattern in the scarf jumped out. The scarf looked so much better. I am now using the blocking wires for all of my knitting. Everything looks much better. I like blocking with steam. I have a hand steamer and think that some day I will graduate to a large professional steamer. The stitches look really good with steam.
AnnL@2 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 7:04 AM
The square being blocked is so beautiful, I'd like to make one. May I have the pattern directions and names of the yarns used.

Today's post was really inspiring. At this time, I do not know how to block, but I certainly intend to learn how to do it with a board.

I use a board to get everything perfect in quilting, why not transfer the skills to knitting and crochet.

By the way, you may want to publish a list of supplies for doing "ideal" blocking. I do a lot of squares for afghans and adding this skill to my work would make them come out just about perfect. Handmade, not Homemade.

Thanks,

annlemon@aol.com
LynnG wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 6:38 AM
I block on the spare bedroom floor or bed, but lay down a cheap plastic-coated picnic tablecloth (the red-and-white checked kind) which conveniently has 1-inch marks to guide me. Not only is it waterproof, but it cost me only $2.99!
Anonymous wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 6:37 AM
One more comment on darting. The "bunching" underarm is caused by the darts not being deep enough for the fullness of the bust. It works!! Carol Hensley
BonnieH@2 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 6:37 AM
My favorite blocking board is a window screen. I wait until my husband isn't looking, then I rip one out and lay out my knitting. If he's out of town, I can even pin pieces down thru the screen.Dries quickly. Name withheld to protect the knitter....
crazyatom wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 6:11 AM
I can't resist and must tell you that I just LOVE your blog. just LOVE it. it's not like me to gush, but this is an excellent use of the web. thanks!
Eisenhca wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 6:05 AM
I purchased a foam mattress from our local craft store and use that for blocking my things. It is the same size as a single bed mattress and works quite well. I just stand it in a closet when not in use.
Also, I have heard that it is possible to use a hair dryer (blow dryer) to speed up the drying process when blocking. Has anyone at Interweave had any experience with this?
Thanks.
Cathie E
on Jul 19, 2007 5:50 AM
I have a craft table with an old wool blanket and then a padded grid that custom fits the table over it. I can remove it all when I have a bit of rotary cutting or sewing to do.
MariahM wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 5:38 AM
First post here. I've enjoyed reading each post for the past few weeks.

I use a foam science fair exhibit board for blocking. I'm sure it has a more specific name, but I just call it my "science fair thingy." It's not always big enough in all direction, but so far it's worked well for quite a few years. I usually put my garments through the spin cycle of my front loader to get as much water out as possible. I've never had an issue with warping.

Mariah
Cinders wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 5:23 AM
My Blocking board is a table protector covered in Gingham. I use the checkes to line up the peice being blocked and pin it into the board. its a nuisance if we want to eat on the dining room table though! The cats sit on the board if I move it onto the floor!!
AnnS@7 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 4:45 AM
I recently bought a blocking board and it was one of the best investments I ever made. Knitting is my passion and the professional looking blocking that I can now do makes my pieces even more beautiful. I am currently awaiting delivery of blocking pins that I ordered after seeing how they were used on Knitty Gritty.
Tessa@2 wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 2:53 AM
Polystyrene is light, waterproof, and comes in small or large squares or large panels. You can buy it from DIY stores. Buy the rigid kind, at least 1/2 inch thick. It will take pins easily and can be laid on a table, a bed, or the floor for the blocking procedure. If you secure the garment to be blocked with pins all round you can prop the polystyrene (plus blocked fabric) against a wall and wait for it to dry there, without taking up too much space. Tessa Lorant, July 19, 2007
Crow wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 2:13 AM
I am a quilter as well as a knitter and on a wall in sewing room I have a 4' x 4' cork board that I use for making quilt blocks. It also works well for blocking, and it's big enough for just about anything I knit.
SaraJ wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 1:27 AM
I'm going to be starting my Pacific Waves Shawl in Incan Clay within a few days, and so I'll need to be thinking about a blocking board; THANKS for the great post on this! Of course, this puppy is gonna be LONG, it's so long the model on Elann.com has some hanging down a bit from her hands, with her arms spread out. I think it is taller than I am. How big did you say those insulation panels were,the ladies who did?Except, I live in an apartment, so storing the blocking board is an issue; I know manufactured ones fold up, but they don't make 7ft long ones, do they? I guess I could get a couple, when I can.
KristenB wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 12:21 AM
In addition to the wires, I steam block shawls and such. I wet block sweaters. My washer removes a lot of moisture, as it is a front-load with a high speed spin cycle, as well as a hand wash cycle. I always have ceiling fans going too. Never have had any blocking take over 48 hours (for heavy wool sweaters).
KristenB wrote
on Jul 19, 2007 12:10 AM
I usually block on a towel on my dog's crate- it dries faster with the air-flow. It works great for most sweaters and tops. I did a shawl on the living room carpet with blocking wires I got from Knit Picks. It worked great, as my carpet is 9' x 12'. I just put a bed sheet over the carpet, and pinned the securing pins into the carpet itself.
Tamara O wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 10:48 PM
I once considered buying a blocking board, but then I learned that my LYS has a large table and professional steamer in the store for customer use. And, they helped me get started!
KathyC@4 wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 10:28 PM
I use a huge peice of foam core that I bought at an art store which I covered with a piece of gingham fabric for grid lines. It works great laid out on the guest bed with a fan blowing over it to dry whatever I'm blocking.
Nicholas wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 10:22 PM
Have a wonderful, yarn- and bead-filled birthday today, full of inspiration for new designs! Perhaps a nice warm fair isle sweater suitable for Canadian and Colorado winters?
RebeccaM@4 wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 9:38 PM
I'd like to understand what's wrong with blocking a long item a little at a time on an ironing board or shorter surface. I've never had a problem with doing that.

I'll second the idea that blocking wires are an excellent investment - they save a lot of pinning and make the work go faster.
LindaH@4 wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 9:33 PM
If you are going to buy a blocking board, buy a large one otherwise it is a waste of money and time because you will only be able to block one piece at a time. I set up my ironing board in front of my washer/dryer and lay my blocking board overtop of the washer/dryer and ironing board. That places the blocking board at the right height to block things comfortably as my back isn't bent over as it would be if it were on a table or a bed.
Linda H.
NatalieN wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 9:27 PM
I have read that 1/2" homasote board (made from recycled paper for bulletin boards and sound insulating) sold at lumber yards is a good choice, as you can pin into it, but it also helps wick away the moisture. This seems like it might be a plus compared to a plastic or rubber surface. If desired, you can cover it with 1" gingham fabric.
NancyS@2 wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 9:21 PM
Whatever you use as a blocking board, DON'T wait days for an item to dry. Place an ordinary table fan (or floor model if you have one) near the blocked item. The circulating air will dry most items overnight. For small items, I use an old baby gate that has plastic covered wire mesh that allows air to circulat beneath the item.
AdrienneS wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 9:21 PM
I use the floor of a spare bedroom. It has wall to wall carpeting with little "nap", so the pins stick easily without any damage. I have only spray blocked (use spray bottle) so my trying time is usually just 24 hours. Would love to learn more about steam blocking. I bet that steam will help with smoother seams.
NadiaT wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 9:12 PM
I'm a one year old knitter, who (shock-horror) reads the section of the pattern relating to blocking, and whispers 'hmmm, still don't know how to do it, oh well'... and sews the item together. How does blocking/not blocking effect a garment? And how does one go about the process? Nadia.
LisaW@2 wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 9:08 PM
It seems like blasphemy to say this, but I've never blocked anything! I'm a relatively new, self-taught knitter, and unfortunately, have not been privy to the advantages of blocking. Can you recommend a resource that can help me with the hows and whys of blocking? Thanks for your help!
VivetteA wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 8:56 PM
I've mostly blocked small items so towels on the fireplace hearth with a cat for added weight has worked adequately but now that I know about "blocking boards" .....
MayW wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 8:49 PM
I have been making afaghans for wedding gifts and lace shawls for the fun of it. The guest bed was being used often (displacing the cat0. I found myself with a back ache from bending over the bed and questioning the fit of a 6 foot round shawl of lace. I had my husband up some pcv pipe to make a 6 ft. square. I have been sewing the afaghan on the the frame with crochet cotton. It is possible to make different sizes of the frame for different sized items. To elimate some of the sewing, I am going to try metal shower curtain holders for 2 sides and sew the other two.

May
JuliaE wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 8:43 PM
I bought a blocking board a few years back when I started machine knitting. Love it, love it!! I put it up on a crafts table, or my ironing board, and my "fuzzy children" can't sit in the middle of my projects. Blocking wires are another "must have;" and be sure to buy pins with the t-heads; much easier on the fingers.
LoriF wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 8:30 PM
I used to live in a house where we had a (very underused) billiards table, and I would block knits on layered towels. Now I will probably unfold the futon in my wool room and use it...
I really love the newsletter, by the way. I look forward to seeing it in my inbox!
CarlaW@3 wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 8:16 PM
Since my daughter moved to Los Angeles, I use her bedroom floor (the only place I can guarantee that the cats can't get into). I cover the floor with large beach towels and block my lace shawls with the aid of blocking wires, pins and a yard stick. I mainly knit Shetland or Orenberg type lace pieces but have been caught up in the KAL frenzy...must have 4 large shawl projects otn at the moment. Thank you for starting this newsletter. I feel less of a yarn geek now that I know I'm not knitting alone out here!
Carla in Southern New Jersey
LesleyC wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 8:15 PM
my blocking board is a large piece (5'x5') of 2" thick foam from home depot. it's waterproof and when it needs replacing the cost is low. i sewed up a snug fitting pillow case for the board out of canvas with a gingham pattern on it to give me regular rows of squares to block by. i slid the case on and then stitched the top shut by hand. if the foam ever wears out i can re-sew the cover onto a new piece of board. so far so good and i have yet to find a project this is not large enough for :) and it's thin enough that it can live comfortably behind the desk when it is not in use.
LesleyC wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 8:15 PM
my blocking board is a large piece (5'x5') of 2" thick foam from home depot. it's waterproof and when it needs replacing the cost is low. i sewed up a snug fitting pillow case for the board out of canvas with a gingham pattern on it to give me regular rows of squares to block by. i slid the case on and then stitched the top shut by hand. if the foam ever wears out i can re-sew the cover onto a new piece of board. so far so good and i have yet to find a project this is not large enough for :) and it's thin enough that it can live comfortably behind the desk when it is not in use.
KayA wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 8:14 PM
I'm one of those crazies who's slept on the floor while a shawl blocks on the bed--but the other option was to block it on the floor of the den, and although it would have been easier on the back, the kittens like yarn far too much to take the chance. =)
CaitlinH wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 8:10 PM
For things that need to be pinned, I've made a blocking board out of a foam core board (not waterproof), wrapped in a garbage bag (to make it waterproof), wrapped in some cool fabric I got with 1-inch squares on it (if I want to block something to a specific size). For non-lace things, I just block them out on a towel on my floor or my bed.
LoriH wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:59 PM
I have the Sam's club special - interlocking rubber floor mat. I have only used it once so far, but it worked well. I put a towel on top just in case. The tank top that I was blocking had a lace pattern at the bottom so I did have to use a tape measure. The pins go in nicely and after some serious drying time I had a beautifully blocked tank top.
PegMorrow wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:58 PM
Is it really necessary to block socks used the sock blocking boards?
SusanneS wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:58 PM
I use the foam "Puzzle" type pieces found in the toy section of most major stores. They are 2'x 2' so they can be linked together to make a rather large surface for those larger lacy type shawls/stoles that need lots of room!
I like them as I live in an apt and the storage is easy, just unlock the puzzle pieces and put them away!!
Susanne in hot, humid Edmonton, AB Canada!!
on Jul 18, 2007 7:56 PM
I use 2ft x 2ft foam blocks I got at Toys R Us; 4 of them cost about $20US. On one side, I drew parallel lines with a permanent fine-line marker to help with blocking.

These store very easily in a small space, and if you often block big shawls, you can get 2 sets. You can lay these out on your bed if getting down on your knees is difficult.

To make drying go faster, you can place a small fan so it blows across the item being blocked. I've also got a ceiling fan over my bed, so the two fans really help things dry quickly.

One of the best knitters at the About.com Knitting Forum recommends a 4ft x 8ft sheet of building insulation foam. This works really well, especially when laid out on a bed. It's big, but if you cut it into 2 4ft squares and hinge them together with duct tape, you may be able to store them under a bed.

Both the foam blocks and the building insulation foam can be stood up on their sides against a wall or bookcase for overnight if you've put them on your bed, or to keep them from being slept on by pets. Enough pins around the article will keep it from sagging.

Also, I've found the best price for T-pins at my local Staples store, in the paperclips and push-pins area.
AnitaM wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:51 PM
I use the children's interlocking rubber floor mats you mentioned. They work brilliantly. One advantage is that they are easily pulled apart and stacked to store.

But the big advantage is that you can configure them to whatever size or shape you need. Large triangular shapes are no problem!

And all the different colours look so pretty peeking through the lace. :)
DebbieA wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:50 PM
Got a couple of the plastic grids that go in overhead fluorescent lights (at a home improvement store) and covered with fabric. The extra air circulation really helps the drying process and they can be cut to any size.

I had some extra long scarves and it was great to line them up end-to-end across the room
conib wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:46 PM
I agree with rita w, the longest WEBS board is too short!

I personally would like one that is 72" long and 40" wide (the grid being 68" x 38" of it), which would fit the top of my cutting table in the same way my big cutting mat does.

If I could get just a gridded denim cover with those specs I would be more than happy to turn it into a pressing/blocking surface ...
MinnieK wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:45 PM
I always use a ton of steam. After the initial blocking, I try on sweaters and see how the shoulders look. If the seams look bumpy, I use a bunch of steam, then quick put the sweater on and smooth for a "custom fit!"
I also hate the way wet wool smells, so I've been known to spritz on a little perfume at the same time...the scent lasts forever, when you steam it in to block!
RitaW wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:25 PM
I use large terry bath sheets to cover the carpet and block or steam (just using my iron) on the floor. I looked at the blocking boards from WEBS but they seem too small for lace shawls (largest is 60"). Based on Susan's post, will put a floor steamer on my wish list.
Rita
JillA wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:20 PM
I live in a small Manhattan wood-floored apartment, with a cat that jumps on almost anything. So the bed is out, as is the floor. I block on a towel that is spread along the back cushion of my velvet sofa. The nap of the velvet lets a bit of air circulate, and doesn't show the pin marks, which disappear after removing them. Works for me
PhyllisB@2 wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:18 PM
I use "Quilter's Cut'n'Press" blocking boards. They are gridded on both sides, are 12 X 18" and are really cheap ($19.98 at Walmarts). The back side is unpadded and can be used for rotary cutting, etc. Two of them butted up against each other will do for most things. Next payday I am going to buy 2 more so the area is big enough for my Hanne Falkenburg Pagode.
SusanL@2 wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:17 PM
I have a half piece (about 4'x4') of pink foam insulation board leftover from building our house 20 yrs ago, and I've been using that ever since for blocking. It's easy to stick the heavy T-pins into it, and the steam from a floor model steamer doesn't melt it. The board is cheap and easily replaced. The steamer does a wonderful job, with little waiting for items to dry. After hemming and hawing over the cost, I'm so glad I went ahead and bought it using one of JoAnn fabrics 40-percent-off-on-one item coupons from their Sunday ad flier. I used to do a lot of spinning and dyeing, and at one point I noticed that steam-set skeins held their twist and did not kink up in the dyebath, so I think highly of steam for getting wool to behave.
CarmelL wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:13 PM
Re: the comment that all items need to be blocked, does that apply if you are using superwash wool?
CarolS@7 wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:12 PM
I would like to hear how to block sweaters that have been knit in the round.
JoanD@2 wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:11 PM
I use a flanel fabric that is marked in 2" squares that quilters use for watercolor quilts. I sewed an extra section on the side to make it wide enough for very large lace shawls. I usually do it and pin into the carpet but I am thinking about turning the pads on the dining room table over and placing the fabric on top and then pin into the felt side. Why not the holes will be small and hurt nothing.
MartiJohnson wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:11 PM
A few years ago I bought a folding triple wide screen from a store going out of business. Each panel measures roughly 30" across and so it measures out to 90" wide and five feet high. On one side I stapled gridded flannel fabric (pre-shrunk), and I can put quilt pieces for a block on it, or even block a lacy shawl or scarf on it by laying it flat on the floor in the sewing room. Works every time!
MeliseG wrote
on Jul 18, 2007 7:10 PM
I use a handmade blocking board. I went to Home Depot and bought insulation boards. They are 1.5" (I think) flat foam boards that come in like 3 feet x 6 feet or something like that. Then I took some duct tape and taped three together along the long edge, on both the front and the back side. I can then lay my project out on the boards lying flat on my bed...but when I need to go to sleep at night, I can pick the whole thing up and lean it against the wall. I can also fold them up into a small pile of boards that I slide under my bed when I am not using it.