I finished knitting the first front half of my “Sanderling” lacy summer vest designed by Asami Kawa!
It was time to block this thin, lacy knitted piece and check my workmanship and fit. Time to pin my pieces to the padded top of my annoyingly wobbly, narrow ironing board. Oh. Yay.
I’ve been asked not to set up a makeshift blocking station on the ping pong table again. The last time I did that, the steam permeated the blanket and sheet I had carefully arranged as my blocking surface and marred the table top. I really couldn’t see how my stain was any worse than any of the others left from old beer pong matches or from my husband using it as a work station to paint his Day of the Dead dioramas. But, being the sort to not make waves, I figured maybe it was time to invest in a blocking board.
I started shopping around. There are some really nice blocking boards out there. But to get a good, sturdy one with handy 1” square measurements, I would’ve had to drop around $100. I like to spend my money on yarn and patterns and other cool knitting stuff. In my opinion, a board isn’t cool knitting stuff.
Hmmm. My brain started churning…it couldn’t be that difficult to make my own. Turns out it’s easy-peasy. I found a very helpful blog post by FlowerGirlKnits. I really liked her idea of a LIGHT blocking board made out of inexpensive materials. So, I made a few little adjustments to her instructions. I made one big blocking board instead of two smaller ones and added padding. And voila! For about $27 in supplies and about 15 minutes spent carefully taping some stuff together, I now have a great blocking board!
- Two 20” x 30” foam boards, ½” thick – any color ($10 each at A.C. Moore…less if you have a coupon)
- Two yards checkered fabric, 1” checks (just under $7)
- Wide clear packing tape or duct tape (which I already had in abundance)
- One old beach towel
1.) Collect your supplies. Pick up the foam boards at your local craft store. Make sure they are ½” thick and not the thinner version, so you have lots of good stuff to stick your pins into. Then stop at a fabric shop and get 2 yards of checkered fabric, where the checks are 1” squares. This makes it really, really easy to measure your knitted piece as you’re stretching it to size. Grab some wide tape. I used clear packing tape. Duct tape would work fine, also. And dig out an old beach towel that has seen better days. This will be the under layer to provide a softer surface and to absorb some of the dampness.
2.) Wash and dry the fabric. This removes any formaldehyde or other yucky stuff they sometimes use on new fabrics. It also protects you from possible dye transfer or shrinkage.
3.) Tape the two foam boards together so they measure 40” x 30”. Run the tape the whole way around the seam, back and front. If you get the two pieces of foam board really snug up against one another, the two pieces won’t wobble at all. I originally thought I might need to put them on some sort of larger cardboard base or something, but that wasn’t the case.
4.) Attach the beach towel to the foam board. My towel happened to be exactly 30” wide, so I laid it on the foam board and taped those edges to the foam board edges. The towel was longer than 40”, so I had extra to pull around the back and tape. Make sure all the towel edges are taped down securely.
5.) Attach the fabric to the beach towel-covered foam board. The natural width of the fabric is what…36”? So you have an extra 3” on each side across the 30” width of your foam board. Cut the fabric to fit the 40” length of the foam board with about 4” or so extra at each end. Then, wrap the fabric around one edge of the foam board, being careful to keep your checks in a nice, even line, and tape securely to the back of the board. Do the opposite side, pulling the fabric snug but not so tight that you’re stretching the checks out of shape. Then wrap the material around the remaining ends, neatly folding your corners under and taping securely.
It’s that easy! The foam board is nice and light to pick up and move anywhere for your blocking project. And, when not in use, it easily stashes behind a bureau, under a bed, or other hidey-spot.
Thank you FlowerGirlKnits for your guidance on this project!