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Jessica Joy

Knitwear designer and writer

How to Make a Blocking Board

To finish off my Teardrop Shawl last week, I decided to have a go at making my own blocking board. Up until now I’ve used a towel spread out on the floor, but I knew this super intricate lace needed a much smoother, flatter surface to pin out the motifs and scalloped edges. Another option would have been foam play mats, such as these, but I fancied getting my hands dirty!

Jessica Joy: DIY Blocking Board

You will need:

  • 2 x A1 pieces of foam board
  • Packing tape
  • Approx 1.3m of Gingham/checked fabric
  • Scissors

Method:

  1. Wash and iron the fabric.
  2. Tape the two pieces of board together with packing tape, all the way around.
  3. Lay the fabric on the floor and place the taped boards on top.
  4. Pull the fabric taught and begin to tape down the edges.

Jessica Joy: DIY Blocking Board

I already had two 50 cm lengths of gingham fabric, so I opted to patch mine together in two halves – this reminded me of battenburg cake, which is no bad thing! It worked just fine, but is probably less fiddly if you can buy one large piece of fabric.

Jessica Joy: DIY Blocking Board

As the fabric is slightly stretchy, the gingham pattern isn’t effective for measuring out dimensions, but is great for lining up straight edges. You’ll still need to use a measuring tape to get the size right.

Jessica Joy: DIY Blocking Board

One downside I noticed was that the foam board curled up at the edges as the shawl was drying, so I’d recommend weighing down the corners if possible. This probably makes it less of a long-term solution but I’ll see how it holds up with future projects and let you know.

Jessica Joy: DIY Blocking Board

What do you use to block your knits? Let me know in the comments!

7 comments
  1. Nova55 23 October 2014, 7:18 pm

    What a wonderful idea! I use bulletin boards left over from my childhood. I draw the layout on paper and cover it with plastic wrap, then pin the item with rustproof ball pins. If I have something large or long I have to do it one segment at a time, though.I guess we just can’t get away from the “fiddling”!

  2. BGVT 24 October 2014, 2:54 am

    For something this big? (It’s a glorious shawl, by the way!) I use safety pins to stretch out a wool blanket over the bed, then pin out the shawl. Helps if there’s an unused bed! I generally measure out the finished size, using straight pins to mark where the edges will be, and eyeball the rest.

  3. Hobbiknits 27 October 2014, 10:25 am

    I use insulating board. Then the gingham or sometimes a striped sheet.

  4. Heather 28 October 2014, 9:06 am

    I use the foam play mats that are sold for children. They interlock like puzzle pieces so I can put together just the size I need. There are no markings or grid lines on them though so I like the idea of the gingham fabric for that.

  5. Katy 23 July 2015, 11:27 am

    For blocking I usually just place a large towel over polystyrene board,but I love your idea of using gingham! At Ruddington Framework Knitters’ Museum we used to block shawls on sheets over grass in the yard!

  6. Maria 14 March 2016, 6:09 am

    I’d love to knit thus shawl. Can you eml me the charts,please.
    Thank you

  7. Rose Helm 5 September 2016, 9:15 am

    In a hurry for a last minute solution, I grabbed the foam seat which we place on our garden bench as my work was a long short piece this was ideal! Beware if using lift colours though as my garden seat foam has a dark green cover on it.

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