Thursday, October 3, 2013

Blocking Socks

I started this topic last time, but want to follow up with my final results.  I made 2 large sock blockers from foam board that I already had.  It is cheap, easily available and sturdy enough for the task.  The paper layer seems to be water resistant.  I made blockers for medium and for small socks.  I have used the medium size to block several sets of  my socks and the blockers show no detrimental effects of the damp.  One sheet (18 by 24) will easily make blockers in the three adult sizes with enough left over for a child’s size.  

In making the blockers, a few things to keep in mind:

  • You are not trying to stretch the sock to size, so the blocker should be ever so slightly smaller than the final size.
  • If you extend the top of the pattern out (see previous blog entry for pattern link), the cuff will get wider, which you don’t want it to do – make sure the cuff part of the blocker maintains an even width.
  • Once you cut out the first blocker, use it to trace the second on, so that the 2 are alike.
  •  There’s a lot of leeway in this – so the blockers don’t have to be perfect.
  •  Use a knitting needle to poke a hole through the middle of the top.

I didn’t like the yarn and hook arrangement to hang them and so came up with a single hanger, shown below.  It takes about 10” to 12”of heavy gauge wire (like 18 or 16).  It is bent in the center and then out – that part fits over my clothesline – and then 2 hooks facing inwards to hold the blockers.  I made the arms of my hangers rounded – more of an artifact of the wire having been on a roll – but that’s not necessary. It hangs like a mobile.  The middle loop could be modified to hang over a dowel or hook or shower curtain rod, depending where you need to hand them up. Or you could fashion a separate hook that fits over larger rods and then hang the hanger from it.  The hanger would work well with commercial blockers.  


Hangers with loaded blockers attached.
The blocking process is simple:  soak the socks in tepid water with a few drops of good wool soap.  Squish the water through the socks, but do not agitate.  Then squish out the excess water, rinse, squish them out again.  Lay them on a bath towel and roll this up like a jelly roll.  Place on the floor and stomp on it.  Turn the roll 90 degrees and stomp on it again.  The socks will be just barely damp.  Now pull the socks gently over the blocker and adjust.  Don’t try to stretch the sock out – you are just trying to even up the stitches and give the sock and nice flat shape.

I looked at the foam sheets that were recommended at another site.  Most of it is too flimsy and the stuff that was thicker only came in 9” by 12”sheets, which are too small.  

 I also tried to make a wire frame blocker from plastic coated wire I had.  The 18 gauge was too weak – I had to make cross braces and then tape all the connections and wire ends – while it worked, it was hard to pull the socks on and off without snagging.  However, the socks dried quicker.  I will look for heavier wire and try again.  It does have to be coated, because you don’t want the metal to rust or tarnish and discolor the sock.

Bottom line – the socks come out looking great and adds that extra professional looking touch to them.

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