Friday, March 16, 2012

To Block or Not To Block?

That is the question...

I know every sock knitter feels the same way, as I have heard mixed opinions on sock blockers from everyone I've asked. I never had a preference before, because I never had blockers before. But over Christmas break I go to the point where I was washing my socks and just couldn't put them in the dryer. Leaving them set on the counter wasn't the best option either: I've tried that before and it's taken over 2 days to fully dry. So what were my other options?

Commercial sock blockers are something I'd love to someday have, because they are sturdy and smooth and nice. But my budget wasn't in favor of that idea at the time. So I improvised. I started by tracing a store brand sock on a piece of paper for a template, which oddly enough, worked pretty well. Then came time to pick my materials.

My first attempt was with coat hangers, and for as long as it took to make, they sure don't look it. They're sloppy and have bends in random places and overall just not a very successful attempt. Maybe I did something wrong, but I just feel like the way hangers are shaped doesn't make them ideal for forming feet shapes. I still use these, but I don't like them too much.

After that I remembered a huge piece of foam core sitting in my bedroom that I used once for a painting. Me, my box cutter knife and roll of masking tape went to work and 30 minutes later I had 2 sets. It ended up making a mess, but in the end the result was something I was satisfied with and will continue to use to block my socks in the future.
Now comes the time when most sock knitters express their opinions. Should socks even be blocked? Yes it makes them look pretty for presents and photos, but is it really needed? Something I've noticed since I started blocking my socks is that they block a little bit bigger than my foot. Although most of the time they 'shrink' back to fit my foot once they are on, I am still a little frustrated with this fact. Making the blockers smaller would probably do the trick, but what about commercial ones? Everyone's feet are different so sometimes blocking may not be the best idea.

So that raises the question: To block or not to block? What do you think? What do you usually do? Any tricks or tips for sock blocking? I'd love to hear them all!



  1. Lisa, this is so awesome! You are so innovative! They look almost the same as some of the one's you can buy! So awesome!

    I don't know how I feel about blocking socks, mostly I feel as though I don't have enough information to form an opinion.

  2. What amazing sock blockers!! They look great and I love how you made them with materials you had around. :)

    I've personally never blocked a pair of socks, even though sock blockers have been on my must-buy-someday list for years, and I'd love to get a pair and try them out. For now, I just lay mine out on a towel and let them dry, which takes awhile, but gets the job done.

  3. I am looking at exactly the same thing at the moment. I'm trying to convince my husband to make me wood sock blockers....I just wrote an article on my blog about blocking - I wonder if it would be useful for you? Take a peek.
    I am nearly finished some socks myself - I think I'm going to block them!

    1. I'd love to look at your blog, but it won't let me, because it says it's private.
      Wood sock blockers would be so nice to have, no warping or anything!

  4. I always block my socks when they come off the needles, but I only do that for taking photos. Once I start wearing my socks, they just get hung over a drying rack.

  5. WOW! you did a really great job improvising these sock blockers! I don't have dock blockers. I typically use the wash, shape, lay flat to dry approach. But, if I had blockers, I'd probably go that route instead.

  6. I've always been a bit unsure of sock blockers. I tried making the coat hanger ones but gave up as I couldn't get them even close to foot shaped! I have really small feet, so commercial ones won't be ideal for me ;)

    I have no idea if they are necessary or not, but they do make better pictures ;)

  7. The only time I consider blocking really necessary is when I'm making a pair of socks for someone else and want them to look as nice as possible before they go in the mail. I'll also use sock blockers sometimes for taking pictures. Because I've built up a decent collection of knitted socks at this point, and because I don't have the energy or inclination to wash each pair right after it's worn, I usually wash them all at once. I certainly don't have that many pairs of blockers, and you're right that laying socks flat to dry is a slow method. I have a rack in my laundry room that I hang them from.

    I love your handmade blockers. Those wire ones especially cannot have been easy to make, but they all look pretty good to me.

  8. I have sock blockers that I've used for photos, but when I handwash my socks it's usually 8-10 pairs at a time, so I just drape them all over a drying rack that I picked up at a yard sale for a couple of bucks and they're usually dry by the next day. As long as air can circulate around them and you flip them over one or twice, they'll dry faster.


Even if you are just saying Hello, I always love hearing from you :)