part 1: if it can be blocked, it should be blocked
i have developed a theory over my years of knitting… if the fiber is animal, the piece should be blocked. in fact, i’ve been known to “block” plant fiber as well, but i won’t get into that just now.
there are certain items that are considered for blocking above others and i’d say shawls take the cake. often times socks, sweaters, and anything lace yearns for that satisfying dunk and dry, too - but why do we even bother? i think knitting is such a process from choosing the perfect pattern and yarn, the actual practice of knitting slow and steady, to binding off, seaming if needed and weaving in all those little ends - that blocking should be the triumphant finish!
when you dunk that finished piece, the fiber changes. just like human hair relaxes, straightens, and (sometimes only briefly) springs back to it’s natural wave and texture when wet, so does the animal fiber in the yarns we love. all those little hairs relax and take a stretch; they become pliable and ready for molding to their new shape. when the piece drys, the hairs recoil and embrace their new form. the process of the hair relaxing, then tightening back up also evens out stitches (like that one weird loose stitch that appears for no reason), and can often promote beautiful stitch definition.
there are a slew of tools on the market for blocking - blocking wires & pins for those avid shawl knitters, sock blockers in a variety of sizes and materials for those amazing sock people, mats, and even mesh racks for sweaters but WHERE ARE THE HAT BLOCKERS????
like most people, i’ve used the blown up balloon inside a beanie or a plate inside a beret, but there are other, more difficult hat shapes to block - like my evangeline & cutting teeth toques. necessity is the seed of invention. those hats needed a good blocking and they were gonna get it. my bazaar devices brought a lot of questions from the IG community and though i had included a brief hat blocking tutorial with those particular hat patterns, i decided i should put what i had learned on my quest for the perfect hat here for all to see and build upon.
i hope you gain something here and if you have a particularly clever method, please share!!