After years of blocking 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.
Guidelines to Keep in Mind for Blocking Board Surfaces
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 knitting 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.
Make sure your blocking surface is large enough for your project. Your blocking knitting 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.
Make sure the blocking area isn’t on a surface you use all the time. 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).
Make sure the 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 pets, kids, and well-meaning housemates.
Do you have and clever ideas for blocking surfaces? Leave your ideas in the comments!
(Originally posted on December 3, 2018; updated on August 28, 2019.)