I'm sure I can't be the only one to bind off a new hat, tuck in the ends and stick it straight on my head for a trip outside. It's tempting when you have a fresh new hat that you love, but these days I really try to resist! Just like with sweaters and shawls, blocking can make such a huge difference to hats, and just makes me love them even more.
This week I finished up Bronntanas, Ysolda's first pattern from the new Knitworthy collection. Mine is knit in Malabrigo Worsted in the Frank's Ochre colourway. It truly is a honeycomb hat! For slouchy hats like this one I use the easiest blocking method; flat, with no pins or wires. Simply give your hat a little soak in the bath, gently squeeze out the water between towels and then shape flat. This really smooths out the stitches, and makes the honeycomb pattern pop.
And since I had a hat bath set up, I took the chance to wash and re-block one of my other favourites from last winter, Scrollwork by Irina Dmitrieva, from Brooklyn Tweed's collection Wool People Vol.4. This pattern has intricate cables and a beautiful crown pattern which really benefits from blocking, especially when it's a non-slouchy beanie where the crown is really visible. Here's my favourite, but sad-looking hat -
I blocked this a little differently. I used the same soaking technique as for Bronntanas, but instead of laying it out flat I pushed a small plate up inside and stretched the crown out over the flat surface. You can do this as gently or firmly as you like, depending on how open and stretched you like the stitches. If your hat had a lace pattern rather than cables you might like to be a little more firm. Once I was happy with the crown, I balanced the plate on an upside-down glass to let the sides of the hat hang down, and you can straighten and smooth out the sides here too.
I also love the method of blocking your hat on a balloon! If you have any other favourites let us know about them in the comments. Hats seem to be my favourite kind of project to knit at the moment and it won't be long before I have another little pile waiting for their bath.