Blocking 201 – Hats

So instagram seems to be a place that starts all sorts of fun discussions.  I posted a blocking picture of a cowl the other day, and that turned into a post about blocking cowls.  Now the same thing has happened again with a picture of a hat.  I mentioned how important I thought blocking was, yes even for hats, and some folks asked just how you block a hat, so I thought I’d share.  But first, how about a little reminder of just why it matters.

block your hatsI promise those wouldn’t be *nearly* as pretty without a good blocking!

Now I admit, I am lucky enough to have an assortment of vintage hat forms I use for blocking.  What can I say, my job leads me to collect a whole array of odd things.  But I totally understand that this may be a somewhat unrealistic purchase if you don’t spend an awful lot of time showing off hats.  But I suspect you have something around the house you can use.

First choice is probably a mixing bowl.  The blog archives offer photogenic proof of many mixing bowls used as blocking aids  in my pre-hat form days.  I also know I’ve used an ice bucket (we were in a hotel, my options were limited) and even a vase.  Go raid your kitchen.  You’ve probably got something that will work.

If you want something a bit more adjustable, you can also use a balloon.  This is a good approach because you can blow it up to match the size of the head of the person who will wear the hat (do yourself a favor and measure, it’s surprisingly hard to eyeball that).  If you’re going to go this route, look for the thickest balloons you can find (like the ones they sell as punch balloon toys).  They’ll stand up to the wet hat just fine, and they’ll last for quite a while.

If you don’t mind something you need to store, you can also get styrofoam mannequin heads.  They’re meant to hold wigs, but they make great hat blockers (and they’re shockingly cheap too, like five bucks).  They do tend to run a little small (though I totally have a big head and so could be biased).  So I’d recommend considering the guy version for blocking most hats and the girl version only for blocking kids’ or small adult’s hats.

And of course, if you find you just can’t live without one, you can totally track down vintage hat forms on either etsy or ebay.  I use mine enough it’s totally worth it (and they look cute on the shelf when I’m not using them).

But regardless of how you do it (even if it’s just patting it out flat and letting it dry), please please please block your hats.  All your lovely knitting will be shown off to much better effect if you do!

Oh, and because someone will ask, the top center hat is Pelagic.  The blue ones are Carom.  The others aren’t out yet, but the white ones should be out in November, the gray and pink one in December, and the gray and yellow one some time early next year.  They’ll all be over here when they are (in case you’re coming to this later), and if you want me to let you know when they (and other patterns) come you, you can make that happen over here.