Knitter Review – Block n Roll by Bagsmith
I have been road testing a new toy this weekend. Kath from “Littlehoundales Knits” sent me a message to say she had taken delivery of “Block and Roll” blocking mats and wondered if I wanted to borrow one for my newly completed “Rain forest Canopy” shawl in return for a review of the product. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I jumped at the chance!
I should point out that I am in no way a blocking expert and am only a beginner lace knitter. In fact I have yet to actually use lace-weight yarn and have only dabbled with “fingering” (or 4 ply) weight yarn. I am also not a ‘completer finisher’ in real life and my finishing techniques leave a lot to be desired full stop. I recently gave a dear friend a lovely jumper knitted in “Milla Mia” for her new-born son only to discover that one of the sleeves came off the second he wore it! So I can only assume that if it can make me a better finisher then it will do wonders for anyone.
For those not familiar with the term “blocking” is the act of wetting the fibres to coax the stitches into a finished fabric. It is particularly important when knitting lace, as the blocking process is what separates the stitches and makes the garments “grow”. Kath explained it much more eloquently in her blog.
We have wood floors on the whole ground floor of our house and I find this more of a challenge than blocking on carpet. I currently use 2 camping mats. This offers a challenge when it comes to storage as they are not small, as you can see.
A major advantage of the Block n Roll is that it rolls up easily for storage. As you can see it is substantially smaller and less of a challenge than 2 sleeping mats! The mat rolls up and is secured with 2 ties to keep it tidy.
The Block n Roll is foam backed mat which measure 38” x 50”. It has a heat proof Teflon surface comprises of 20 x 20 mm grid lines to help line up straight edges. For wet blocking items can be pinned directly on to the surface and left there to dry. The mat is also ideal for steam blocking and pressing. I found this really useful as I never know where to pin items when I am steam blocking them. Using this mat means that the item can stay on the mat until it has cooled without taking up the iron board.
Blocking inevitably takes up space; whether it is the dining table or a large section of floor. The Block n Roll offers the option of the item being relatively portable while the wet blocking is drying. This means you can feed the family at the dining table, clear the floor when the dogs come home or even use the bed for actually sleeping in!
I found this was only just large enough for my shawl and wouldn’t be large enough for a wider items, however if I was knitting large shawls regularly I would buy 2 to use together. Wendy Johnson (Wendy Knits) has done this to solve her problem with large shawls.
Also as long as you don’t need to use don’t need to use the squares for guidance you can gain some length by laying the item diagonally.
My current mats (the camping rolls) are also awkward as they want to curl up into their “stored state” all the time, so offer little resistance when I need to block something hard. By this I mean stretching out a garment which is knitted in a yarn with stretch, such as a sock yarn. I felt that it was easier to stretch out fabric with stretch using the Block n Roll, even though it did curl slightly, the results were very good and I didn’t feel that I was putting the fabric under too much pressure. The fabric was able to settle without feeling like it would rip at any minute.
I have to say that I like this mat. It is a useful addition to your knitting toolkit. Although the Block n Roll is a brilliant tool for blocking knitting and crocheting, it would be equally useful for those who quilt, sew, cross stitch, tapestry and scrapbook. At £49.99 it is not cheap but it is an investment and I think the convenience it offers makes it well worth it. I should point out that this is a very competitive price for this item. There are few stockists in the UK and most of those are charging a higher price for this item.
Full Disclosure. I used my Inspinity Blocking wires to block the green Forest Canopy shawl. These have been purchased at full price by me and will be discussed at a later date.