I posted a photo today on Instagram of some Hats gently blocking before a photoshoot, and it hadn't occurred to me that this might be something that others might want to know or not already know about! (I know)
They're small beach balls. Sturdy and reusable.
I don't always use these for wet blocking - they don't come in a huge range of sizes, and you can't control the final diameter - balloons offer a much better range, so it would depend on the size of the sample.
These were originally purchased for taking to shows, so that previously blocked Hats that'd been stored in boxes and normally a vacuum bag prior to travel, would have a way of being refreshed and de-decreased and bought back to their beautiful selves ready for the show. And as this is something I do a lot, I didn't want to waste that many balloons (though as you'd imagine, I do have a few black helium balloons just in case)
I ordered two different sizes - and this is where you have to be careful, as the measurements for the beach balls are of the beach balls as if laid flat, which is equivalent to half the circumference, so do take care when ordering. I picked up 10 each of the 9in and 6in balls.... I couldn't find a 10in or 11in in black, but that's kinda OK, as these are better off being the finished size of the Hat, rather than the fit to size, as I don't want to be stretching the Hat each and every time - I just want the creases nudged away. The 6in size is great for small kids Hats, like the samples in Playful Woolly Toppers (which I knit two of each, so the baby sizes could be seen!) and the 9in is pretty good for adult Hats, which often have a finished size in the region of 18in diameter.
And where did I get them from?
beachballs.com of course!
I went with black as I wanted them to match the rest of my exhibit kit, as all my folding wig stands are black, and 'cos I'm like that. If you're less fussy about colour, you can probably find an even better range that you can use for wet blocking (if I can get over my rather strong dislike of beach ball colours, I plan to do just this. IF)
They're sturdy and reusable and far less wasteful than balloons. I guess it depends how much blocking you do, but if you're someone like me that has hundreds of knitted Hats stored away, they're rather a good idea.