I got a square blocked, and I am very, very pleased with the results. It is much more supple, slightly softer, and significantly uncurled. The "bubbles" are not completely flattened, and I kind of like that effect. All in all, it is a worthy transformation. I am newly converted to the cult of blocking.
Which brings me to my recent foray into the world of the home improvement warehouse. I found a reference on Ravelry to a home-made blocking board, which interested me due to the 80-90$ prices I have seen on store bought ones. So, I found the instructions on Knitty.com and proceeded to gather the supplies. It called for 2-2' squares of homasote, one inch thick plus cover fabric and the stuff to stick it all together. (According to Wikipedia: Homasote is a type of wallboard made from recycled paper that is compressed under high temperature and pressure and held together with a glue. It is the stuff that ceiling tiles are made of, and they conveniently come in 2x2 squares, pre-cut.) I got the gingham fabric and staple gun at Hancock Fabrics and when that came to 30$ I began to wonder if I wouldn't be better off in the long run to buy a blocking board. But I persevered, and off to Lowe's I trotted.
In Lowe's, I asked the first red-vested person I came across and she gestured vaguely towards the complete other end of the store and said that ceiling tiles were in Building Materials. Duh. So, there I stood all tiny and lost staring at a sea of section signs, none of which actually said Building Materials. Gamely, my mother and I marched in that direction and the length of a football field later, we asked another woman where to find ceiling tiles. She, more specifically, offered that they were on isle 17. We traversed the entire length of isle 17, and alas, no ceiling tiles. We wandered vaguely around in the wall board section for a time, and managed to flag down a passing employee. He said that isle 18 is what we were looking for... Notice that at this point, not a single CUSTOMER SERVICE person in this place has offered to take us to the product we were looking to purchase? So, isle 18 it was and we FINALLY found the ceiling tiles. The bad news was that none of them were 1 inch thick (1/2 or 5/8 only.) and all of them were labeled for sale as whole boxes even though each selection had an open box on top. And there we stood in isle 18, alone and unhelped.
My mom left me standing in front of the ceiling tiles in case anyone came close enough or cared enough to see why I was standing alone staring at the ceiling tiles for so long and went the length of a football field back to customer service to ask someone to come help us. She made it there and back without me seeing anyone who worked there, and someone finally sent a sweaty 13-year-old boy who supposedly worked there to ask what we needed. I explained that I needed the homasote for a blocking board, and it therefore needed to be moisture wicking and hold up to pinning, etc, and he told me that he doesn't know what homasote and could I use plastic coated insulation board? I told him that homasote is the stuff that ceiling tiles are made of, and that is the reason we were standing in front of the ceiling tiles asking about ceiling tiles, and that plastic coated insulation board would be waterproof, not moisture wicking. He said that ceiling tiles were only available by the box and he doesn't think they sell any of that homasote, because he has never heard of it. After more head scratching and sweating, he went to find someone else to ask.
He brought back three other guys (where were they when we were searching the warehouse for help???) and they all said that they don't know what homasote is to get some of it cut for me. No matter what I said about what homasote is, apparently. I got the insulation board suggestion again, was told I could buy a whole box of tiles, and even after I explained that I would be pinning wet wool to dry on it and it needed to be portable, one guy suggested sheet rock. Soggy, dissolving plaster... very portable! That is when I gave up on Lowe's.
At this point, I was wondering if fabric could be returned or someone would want 3 yards of lavender gingham, but we decided to give Home Depot the old college try. I went in alone, asked the first person that I found, and he (much to my surprise) walked me right to the ceiling tiles, helped me decide that since the thickest they had was 5/8" that I could duct tape two together for each board, called three different people to find out the sku for a single piece (since the box sku was the only thing on the shelf), wrote it down on a piece of paper so that I would have it when I checked out, walked me to the duct tape (will wonders never cease), and helped me decide which size I needed for my purpose! The whole thing didn't come to 11$, and now Home Depot is my favorite new store!!
And by the way, homasote is available in sheets at Lowe's stores. I just checked the website.
Now I am exhausted. It was such a trial to get the stupid stuff that I haven't wanted to come home in the evenings and mess with it to actually assemble my blocking boards. I am happy to report, though, that today is Friday and I will get this puppy all fixed up tonight! Then maybe this weekend, in between cleaning like a maniac, I will get some more squares blocked.... I love this project!