Welcome to A Lovely Homemade Life!
In this post, I’m sharing a longer version of my recommendations for blocking your Featheround Hat. Nothing improves the look of your knitting (or shows off all of your hard work) quite like a good blocking!
It’s important to consider what sort of yarn you used for your hat when it comes time to block it. Cotton and cotton blend yarns, superwash wools, and yarns containing bamboo fiber may grow quite a lot when wet blocked. Please check the mill’s recommendations located on the ball band of your yarn before proceeding. For a hat that will not respond well to wet blocking, you can try steam blocking. This tutorial, however, is focused on wet blocking a wool or wool blend hat.
To begin, I like to run some warmish water in my bathroom sink, filling it about 2/3 full for a small item like a hat. I then gently swirl in about 1/2 tsp of a wool wash product such as Soak or Eucalan (if you add it while the water is still running it gets very foamy–you don’t want this!) Once the soak is dissolved, I push the hat into the water, holding it under for several seconds and gently pressing it to get the air out and the water into the fibers. Don’t agitate your hat, handle it gently.
While the tam soaks for 10-15 minutes, go gather your supplies. Ideally, to block the tam, you will need a blocking mat, a small dessert or salad plate (depending on the hat size you’ve made) and a bowl, preferably with straight sides that is slightly smaller in circumference than the recipient’s head. If you don’t have one or more of these items, don’t worry! It’s time to get creative! Use a folded up towel instead of a blocking mat. Cut out a cardboard disk from the recycling pile and put it into a ziploc bag to use in place of a plate. Any circular container can work in place of the bowl–just be sure it will react well to being put inside a damp hat–perhaps a cookie tin? A cooking pot? Use your imagination. 🙂
After your hat has been hanging out in the sink for long enough, let the water out while gently pressing the excess water out–do not wring it! Wrap it up in a towel several times and (then comes my favorite part) step on it! Okay, you don’t have to step on it, but press it firmly to get as much of the water out as you can.
Take your now damp hat to your blocking area and get to work! Gently insert the plate into the hat, carefully centering it inside as you would to block a beret. The plate will help to open up the eyelet stitches and will also help your hat to dry more quickly. The plate should not be so large as to be aggressively stretching the fabric, only holding it open. The salad plate I used to block the Sm Adult tam (shown in darker pink) is 8 1/4″ in diameter. The dessert plate used for the Child size (light pink) is 6 1/2″ in diameter. Once you have your plate centered, insert the bowl right side up so that it’s sitting on the plate, then arrange the feather brim band so as to open up the lace work. The Pyrex storage bowls I used are 22″ and 18″ in diameter, respectively. (The larger bowl is really most appropriate for the Lg Adult size, as it stretched out the brim more than I wanted. It was what I had to work with at the time. Next time I knit a Sm Adult sized tam, I will look for a smaller bowl!)
Once you have everything nicely arranged, flip the whole business over carefully, so that it’s sitting right side up. This will help everything to dry more quickly. Make any last adjustments and leave it overnight at least–it could take longer depending on your yarn content. Once everything is quite dry, remove your kitchenware from inside and enjoy your gorgeous hat!
By the way, if you’ve knit yourself a beanie, you’ll only need a blocking mat (or folded up towel)! Soak it, squish it, lay it flat to dry. No pins needed or anything! Beanies may take slightly longer to dry, and may need a flip the next day to fully dry the opposite side.
I’d love to see pictures of your finished hats! Create a project on Ravelry, linked to Featheround, and share it with my group A Lovely Homemade Life!