Balloon Blocking for Hats

posted in: Tutorials, Uncategorized | 1

So…I’ve been knitting a large batch of hats. Five to be precise, for Deann and her family, from my new autumn patterns which I hope to release soon. And I need to block them!

I decided to block them using balloons, because I don’t have a large selection of prosthetic heads in various sizes, and these hats are in three sizes. Using a balloon to shape them when wet means I can adjust the size to match the target head sizes.

So to start! We need something to soak hats in (bucket here!), the hats themselves, balloons, a measuring tape, spare yarn and scissors (to cut said spare yarn).



Before getting water anywhere near the hats, I did a little preparation, to avoid having to do something tricky later on. Namely trying to simultaneously blow up a balloon and keep it inflated whilst measuring the circumference! My hats are to fit heads with circumferences of 20, 22 and 24 inches.

First, I measured out spare yarn in each of the sizes, plus a couple of inches extra so I could tie a knot.

I found the best way to get this right was to cut a length roughly the right size, then fold the tape measure at half of the size. Then fold the yarn, and then I could get a pretty precise location for the knot.

Also, as I was using only one colour of waste yarn, I tied 4 knots in the 24 inch, 2 knots in the 22, and left the 20 inch with one knot. So I could tell my “nooses” apart! But you could also colour code if you’re working with a lot of hats at once like me.

measuring for balloon


The next step is to dunk the hats in water and give them a little soak. Just drop your piece in the water and gently swish around. I took great care not to over-agitate my knitting as this particular yarn is a silk and wool blend which is quite delicate (according to the label!). The water is cold, and totally clean. I didn’t put any kind of washing product in this one.

When it had absorbed a bit of water, I took it out and gave it the most gentle of squeezes (exceedingly gentle) with my hands and then placed it on a folded towel here. It’s sopping wet, so the next stage is to get some of the excess water out.


To blot out excess water, I use the “jelly roll” method. Wrap the piece in the towel so it’s protected, then start rolling the towel up at one end, and continue until the piece is totally wrapped up in a roll, as you can see below. Press down on the rolled towel to soak up the water from the knitting.

jelly rolling

Next, unwrap your hat from the towel, and get ready to inflate!

I blew up one of the balloons just a small amount, enough to be able to insert it easily into the hat. Then inflated it a little more once it was in the hat. At this point I put the waste yarn “noose” over the hat, and let it sit around the middle of the hat. Then inflated the ballon until it reached the circumference of the noose. You don’t want the noose to be too loose or too tight, so just comfortably sitting and held in place by the balloon, and loose enough that you can slip it off at the end.

So once that is done, tie the balloon up and remove the noose. Now you can adjust the hat around the balloon “head” until you’re happy with it.


The only thing left is to set them out to dry.

I rested my balloon heads on small ramekin dishes from the kitchen, and they sit neatly on there without falling over. The yarns I am using have really high wool contents so are quite heavy when wet and that keeps them in place ok on their little ramekin dish stands. If you’re working with a lighter yarn you might need to weigh the balloon down with something at the bottom.

Then….sit back, relax and eat chocolates (or snack of choice) while the assorted wet heads take their time to dry completely.