Sock blockers are one of those items in a knitter’s arsenal that are totally unnecessary, yet still for many of us, quite desirable. For me, it was not the item itself that had held an attraction, but their function. I was not particularly bothered about owning some sock-shaped pieces of wood, no matter how beautifully wrought – like many people I am trying to put my money towards more essential things at the moment, but I did wish to be able to present my knitted socks both in photographs and to their eventual recipients in an attractive and uniform manner. In the end I decided hone my DIY skills to make my own.
These are made from nothing more than a cardboard box and some sellotape. You need a sturdy brown cardboard box or two (the one I used happened to have a fancy design printed on the inside, but it is just a brown box). You’ll need enough cardboard to make four of the sock-blocker shapes.
Stage one involves grabbing a piece of paper and a pen/pencil, and drawing around your foot. It is probably easier to get someone to draw carefully around your foot for you if you have a willing helper nearby. Try and keep the pen as close to your foot as possible in this process.
Now, take two measurements from your foot-trace; across the width of the foot (a) and the length of the foot (b) and make a note of these two measurements. Now you need to convert these two figures to the measurements that you are going to use to create your sock blockers. Take one tenth off of the figure you have for measurement (a) (if you are using a calculator to do this, multiply (a) by .90. Make a note of this number and call it measurement (c). Now, do the same calculation with the figure you got for (b) (the length of the foot) and make a note of the resulting figure as measurement (d).
Figures (c) and (d) are less than those of the actual measurements of the foot so as to allow the sock to remain snug and close-fitting after blocking, providing some ‘negative ease’. Now is the time to grab yourself a pen and get scribbling. Use a large sheet of scrap paper (or several taped together) and, using a ruler, draw a line the length of (d) on your paper. Using the diagram on the right, use your ruler to draw another line the length of (c). Using these two measurements as a guide, draw the shape of your sock-blocker onto the scrap paper, making a note of the angle at which the foot and leg meet – it is not a 90° angle (which is what I drew on my first attempt).
Once you are happy with your template, cut it out. Now, find your cardboard box, flatten it out, and place the template over an area where there are no ’seams’ or folds. Take notice of which way the corrugation or faint lines of the cardboard box are running (from top to bottom or side to side – this is very important) You need to cut out four identical sock-blocking templates – two with the corrugation running vertically, two with it running horizontally.
Once you have cut out all four of these templates take one of those with the vertical corrugation, and one with the horizontal corrugation and place them together, lining them up. Use a little bit of tape to hold them together. Do the same with the other pair. Now, use strips of tape to completely cover both sock-blockers, entirely covering the cardboard. The two differing directions of the corrugation in the cardboard will make them very strong and should stop them from collapsing when you fit your socks over them. The sellotape should keep them relatively waterproof. Mine have been called into action 20 or so times now (as I have been blocking my socks when I was them so as to help them dry faster), and they are still as good as the day I cobbled them together.
There is one extra modification you can make. If you look at the picture at the top of this blog entry you can see how I made these sock blockers to work with the measurements of two different sets of foot measurements. The size 5 UK measurements are those of my own feet, whilst the size 7 UK measurements are those of my sister, who I am knitting some socks for. The foot of one person becomes the leg portion of the other which is great if you are short on either cardboard or space.
These measurements should work with whatever medium you choose to make your ‘do it yourself’ sock blockers out of. Some people have used plastic table-setting mats to make theirs, which is a great idea. I searched high and low in the stores for some and couldn’t find any unfortunately, though I don’t mind as the cardboard ones work just as well and are all but free to make.