No Blocking Board for Knitting? No problem

Spray blocking on a blocking board
After years of block knitting and crocheting on kitchen counters, floors, and dryer tops, I finally broke down one day and bought an Official Blocking Board. All that time, I’d been telling myself that I didn’t need anything fancier—that is, until I started dealing with a serious lace habit. One day, I tried blocking my newest 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 crochet 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.


Whatever creative solution you come up with for use as a blocking knitting 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. 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 once 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 mat out of the way. Your blocked piece needs to be undisturbed until it is completely dry, so keep
 it out of range of cats, kids, dogs, and well-meaning housemates.The comments on a previous post here contain dozens of clever ideas for blocking surfaces from your fellow readers, so check them out! And be sure to leave your own tips in today’s comments, because no doubt some of you have even more great ideas from your own experiences.– Sandi



Sandi’s Pick: Stocking Stuffer Idea

Does your family fill your stocking with toothbrushes and little bars of herbal soap at Christmas? Those are nice and all, but wouldn’t you really rather have something knitterly? There are, after all, plenty of little things that fit in your stocking that aren’t just your average stitch markers…And your family may think (silly them!) that you already have all the stitch markers and wee pairs of scissors you could ever need. (They’re wrong, of course, but that can be a tough sell.) So maybe they need a little hint?

How about The Harmony Guides 101 Stitches to Knit Card Deck? The cards–each with a different stitch pattern–are a nice readable (yet portable) size (5.25″ by 6.5″); they’re quite sturdy, with rounded corners to help prevent damaging the edges. The front of the card has a color photo of the stitch, and the back has the full step-by-step instructions for the stitch. The stitches are favorites from The Harmony Guide series: some are from the Lace & Eyelets book, some are from the Cables & Arans book, and some are from the Knit & Purl book, so you get a little of everything! The set comes with an 8-page insert that tells how to use the cards.

And lest you think we’ve forgotten the crocheters: Check out The Harmony Guides 101 Stitches to Crochet Card Deck, with stitches from both The Harmony Guide: Basic Crochet Stitches and The Harmony Guide: Crochet Stitch Motifs.

Hot tip! Know what my favorite thing is about these stitch card decks? I can go through them to find stitch patterns I like, and then I can lay out my choices side by side to compare the designs before making my final choice. Now THAT’S nifty. (Kind of like playing Knitting Solitaire!)
Look for these great Interweave books at your local yarn shop, or purchase them from our online store.

Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What’s on Sandi’s needles this week? I took my Leaf and Nupp Shawl to Alabama with me–it’s amazing how fast lace knitting goes on a cross-country plane trip when there’s no one to pester you! How far did I get? Check back later this week for photos!


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