Beanie hats make for wonderfully quick and easy knitting projects. But as many knitters discover, they are not so straightforward to block.
This is because you cannot block a beanie hat flat. If you do, the 'ridges' made by the crown shaping will become accentuated and take on the appearance of hard-edged creases, rather than siting flush with the crown of your head. I should have blocked a hat flat and photographed myself wearing it just to illustrate this. But I think you know what I mean?
At any rate, to ensure that a beanie hat has a nice 'head shaped' crown, it needs to be blocked over a spherical object.
Many knitters prefer to use a balloon for this purpose - although, personally, the thought terrifies me! What if it bursts while I am pulling the wet hat over it? Or, in the night, while the hat is drying? No balloons for me, thanks very much.
The obvious alternative that surprisingly few knitters seem to go for, is the mannequin head - the kind used for wigs and hat displays. They are available in different sizes and in a variety of materials, from styrofoam, to plastic, to wood. The prices are reasonable, with plastic ones going for around €10, wooden ones for around €40, and styrofoam ones for as little as €2. For those prices, one could afford to get several in different sizes, and this is the option I would personally recommend over the balloon method.
But in case you are stuck without a mannequin head, or balloon, or ball, or spherical object of any kind, here is an alternative: You can block the hat over an upside-down bowl.
The bowl need not be the size of the wearer's head. It just needs to have a rounded underside as shown in the picture above, to smooth out the crown shaping creases.
Once you find a bowl, stretch the wet hat over it. Then mount the bowl onto a stable pole-like object - such as a paper towel roll (or in my case, an empty can of ironing starch). Let the lower part of the hat dangle loose and leave the mushroom-like contraption to stand in a warm place until the hat dries.
The beanie will block in the correct shape.
Enjoy! And if you are wondering about the hat in the photos - it is the Harvest Season Hat. Pattern is available here and on ravelry (both 50% off through the end of this weekend; discount applied at checkout).