Right about now, I’d guess quite a few of you are finishing up Mitten #2, and you’re looking forward to that sparkling moment when you present your beautiful work to a (hopefully deserving and endlessly appreciative) special someone. Before you wrap those dear mittens up and hand them over, don’t make the common mistake of skimping on blocking – it’s a simple step that can really elevate even problematic knitting from “homemade” to “exquisite”. If you’re wondering “How the heck do I block mittens?”, step right this way!
Okay, they’re not exactly fancy, but I’ve used the above homemade blockers to give the finishing touch to every mitten of mine that you’ve seen over the last several years and they’ve worked out perfectly. I just cut 2 identical mitten shapes out of corrugated cardboard, sandwich them together with packaging tape (which has the side benefit of being waterproof), wash my mittens, blot any excess water out of them and then let them dry overnight with one of these blockers tucked inside. I usually want about an 8″ circumference mitten, so I draw an outline with a width that’s just slightly narrower than half that amount, i.e., about 3 7/8″. (Remember, the thickness of the 2 layers of cardboard will contribute to the circumference, too.)
The length is not crucial. In fact, if you have a straight, Latvian-style mitten, like Amaryllis, it won’t even matter if your blocker extends out below the cuff. (See blockers on the far right.) If you’re doing something with tapered cuffs, like my new Zinnia Mittens, it’s easy-peasy to just trim the sides a bit near the bottom to get a custom fit. (See blockers on the left.) I haven’t had to worry about blocking the points at the top of my mittens – any fiddling needed there can usually be taken care of simply with a few pokes from a dpn. But you could definitely use pointed tops on your blockers, if you prefer. As you can see, sometimes I think a pointed thumb blocker comes in handy.
Once you’re happy with your cardboard shapes, be certain to cover every bit of cardboard with packing tape, so that your blockers are waterproof and will last for years.