Blocking Berets with Dinner Plates—it’s a knitting thing

Block Knitting with a Dinner Plate!

I love the Whitewood Beret and Mitts from fall Interweave Knits; the set got me thinking about my stash of berets … time to pull them out for fall. I have two favorite berets that I wear as slouchy hats: a Fair Isle hat I designed for one of Mary Jane Mucklestone’s books, and a beret with cool, infinite cables from an older issue of Interweave Knits

So I pulled out my favorite hats from the giant rubber bin in my closet and realized they were a little rumpled from months in hiding. I decided to give them a light re-blocking. Normally when I block knitting, I use pins and a blocking board. For berets, though, I use dinner plates. Most slouchy hats and berets are very wide at the midsection of the hat body—anywhere from 23.75″ for the Whitewood Beret above, to over 30″ for more dramatic designs. To determine the circumference of a plate, you multiple the diameter by pi (3.14). My dinner plates are standard 10″ plates, so they measure 10 x 3.14 = 31.4″ in circumference.

For the cabled beret here, that plate makes for a snug fit, but is sure spreads out the knitting nicely as it blocks. My Fair Isle hat is larger—when I first knitted and blocked it, it stretched a lot in the blocking process, but it’s stranded colorwork and I wet-blocked it, so the fabric changed significantly in blocking. Now it just slides over the plate with ease!

You could either wet-block a beret and let it dry on a plate, or slip it onto the plate and spritz it with water and let it dry. I’d recommend wet-blocking for colorwork and lace patterns; maybe just a spritz for cables and textures, depending on how much you want the fabric to relax. Wet-blocking and stretching fabrics makes them relax a lot more, and some textures might lose body from aggressive blocking. For smaller-circ hats, try a salad or dessert plate—a 7″ diameter plate has a ~22″ circumference, which would work nicely for the Whitewood Beret—spreading it out but not severely stretching it.

You want to be careful of the brim/band with blocking a hat on a plate—sometimes the blocking will stretch out a ribbed or other band edging and make it too loose. I recommend running an elastic thread through the band for blocking, and cinching it back into a firm ring, or alternately, using a provisional cast-on or tubular cast-on for the brim and leaving in the waste yarn/rows through blocking. That will give the brim extra support through blocking, and then you can remove it when it’s all dry.

Most wool dries quickly; I find that a day on each side and my hat is dry and ready to wear. Do you have any tips for hat finishing or blocking? Leave it in the comments below!


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