The subject of blocking came up at our South Austin Knitting Meet-up this weekend and Janet asked if I blocked on my bed or what? No, I can't keep people and animals off my bed long enough to block on it and besides, the bed never gets made unless company is coming. I always wanted one of those great folding blocking boards with handles, but the price has been prohibitive for me. I did some web research a while back and dug up all I could find on making my own. I came up with a version of one from Knitty.com and thought I would share my DIY Blocking Board info with you.
I remember coveting Donna's (Donna's Yarn Barn) blocking board in the back room of her shop years ago before she retired and closed the business. It was a large board that was on a table about counter height, so you didn't need to bend over to use it easily. It was padded and covered with Muslin, I can't remember if it had a grid on it or not. It looked to be the size of my cutting table that I use for sewing (40X72 when opened), so it was a substantial size. I knew I needed something bigger than the small folding boards I had seen at some retailers. Some knitted items can cover a lot of real estate while blocking, especially if you block the pieces BEFORE you stitch them together.
I came across the Knitty.com article online and it has lots of good info. I did follow their instructions to a point, but was confused about a couple of their techniques and figured out my own way around those.
First of all, they call for homosote. Well, unless you are into DIY remodeling of your home, you may not know what that is. Well, it's a product made of cellulose (recycled paper by-product) and it is sold in 4X8 sheets for sound proofing a wall or room which don't fit easily in a vehicle unless you have a truck or van. It is also basically the same thing used in accoustic ceiling tiles. The commercial ones are large - I found some that were 2x4 at Lowes and I can't recall, but I think 2 of them were less than 10 bucks. I took them home along with a roll of Duct Tape - did you know that stuff comes in decorator colors now?
Accoustic ceiling tiles are cheaper than plywood and they don't require padding unless you just want to add it. They are relatively lightweight, but they do have some vulnerabilities. They can break and the edges can crumble. I taped all around all the edges with duct tape to secure the edges I bought a few yards of 1 inch Gingham fabric. You can get this stuff from a number of places, and it can be cotton or a blend and many colors. The gingham creates a 1x1 grid on your board that makes measuring your blocking and lining it up so much easier. Just cut enough to wrap around the board and staple it to the back. You could also use hot glue if you didn't have a staple gun, but you want to make sure you line up the grid straight and fairly taut as you secure the fabric to the back.
That is about it. A box of stainless steel T-pins and you are in business. The tiles are absorbant and wick moisture away from your knitting which speeds the drying process. When I block long scarves I just lay the boards end to end on the floor and block across the entire length. I store my boards in the closet when not in use, but you could slide them under a bed or sofa. If you do, put them face to face (if you make two) so they don't get dusty. I lay them flat on a table to pin and then will lean them against a wall while they dry. They have worked really well for me and if and when they wear out, they will be easy to replace. Just lather rinse, repeat.
As long as we are on the subject of blocking, here are some other posts I ran across on the subject I felt worthy of sharing. I have found that blocking is important with most knit items. I know some people don't bother and it shows. Trust me, a serious knitter can spot an unblocked item from...well, a block away.
Make Your Own Blocking Board - with plywood
Final link and tip: This retailer has EZ boards at a better price AND sells pre-printed cloths if you want to build and pad your own board, but it still isn't as cheap as mine. I can't vouch for them since I have never dealt with them, but this was the first place I found the pre-printed grid cloths.