Spray blocking on a blocking board
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
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
- 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....)