Tag Archives: blocking

Blocking lace tutorial: magic!

Blocking is magic for lace knitting. You may think that your project is finished once it’s off the needles, but that’s when the fun really begins. The true beauty of lace doesn’t show until you go through the finishing step of blocking.

Some of us are finishing up our Garland KAL shawls. I’m blocking Garlands for a couple of my local KAL knitters, as well as my own. Here are a couple Garland Shawls before

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and during blocking.

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After:

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Magic!

I thought I’d walk you through blocking on blocking wires, if you haven’t done it before. If you don’t have blocking wires, it’s also possible to do this using string in place of the wires (I’d use mercerized cotton, or linen), but I prefer the stiffness of the wires. Don’t weave in your yarn ends until after blocking. There’s going to be a lot of stretching going on.

Let’s get started!

First, I soak the knitted garment in the kitchen sink with a little bit of Soak, my favorite non-rinse wool wash. Use warm water and allow the garment to soak for at least 20 minutes to relax the fibers.

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The garment is really saturated and stretchy at this point! Support it from underneath, and squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands. Do not twist or wring. Next, lay it on a folded towel, fold the towel over that, and walk all over it. Really. This will get most of the water out.

The next step is to thread the straight edges onto the blocking wires. I put the wires along the top edge, going over and under the garter ridges. If you have an especially long edge, you would use two or three wires to cover the length, but overlap the wires by an inch or so at the place(s) where they meet. I know that you may consider this top edge to be a curve, but it works fine to block it straight, and it’s much easier to pin out this way. Triangle shawls are straight along the top; heart shaped shawls can be blocked straight along the top, too. Crescent shawls like my Webfoot or Filigree? I like to pin them all around, no wires.

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Now the fun begins. Stretch out the garment so that the lovely laciness shines! Use the metal t-pins that came with the blocking wires to hold the wires in place. You’ll need to be working on a surface that can take your pins. In the summer, I’ve been using my old Dritz cardboard cutting board on a table outside. The cardboard is getting tatty after being pinned a bazillion times, but it still works. In the winter, I block on a futon sofabed in the basement. There are also blocking mats that you can purchase specifically for this purpose, and I’ve seen knitters use foam interlocking alphabet blocks, too. (A useful child’s toy, but be careful, some of the colors may transfer to your yarn.) Knitter’s choice!

If you’re pinning out points, you run the wires through the points like this,

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or you can pin each point out separately, like this center point.

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I pinned out each point of my peacock green Garland, but only because I forgot that I could run wires instead! Wires are much faster to set up.

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Let the garment dry completely, and then un-pin. Sew in your ends. The result? Instead of a crumpled wad of knitting, you have a diaphanous piece of gossamer loveliness.

Do you block your lace? Aggressively? I hope so!

Birthday Pi…

may be even better than birthday cake. No calories!

half pi done

It’s my birthday later this week, and I wanted to have this shawl finished to wear. Done! I’ve decided I’m not a fan of knitting with laceweight yarn, but the result is so lovely. The pattern is the EZ 100th Anniversary Gull Wings half circle (Rav link). I knit this on Hiya Hiya sharps, size 4. Loved the pointiness. Didn’t like the slipperiness; not enough control for this loose knitter. But I was afraid to change needles in the middle of the project, for fear of changing gauge. When I went to bind off, I used a larger needle anyway, so I went back to my Lantern Moon ebony in a size 6. Just enough texture to keep the slipperiness at bay.

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I did most of the binding off at Waterfront Park the other night, which is like Portland’s living room. (Some would say that Pioneer Courthouse Square is Portland’s living room, but I like the view from this one better.) The Portland Symphony plays a free concert to open the symphony season, and it always ends with the 1812 Overture and fireworks. A lovely evening.

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It’s a party!

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But I digress. Here’s the shawl, just off the needles. Kind of scrunchy and unimpressive.

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I wet blocked it on my ancient cardboard cutting board in the back yard. The radius is 26 inches, so the diameter is 52. Heh, math.

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It was so warm out, the shawl kept drying out before I was done. I couldn’t find a spray bottle, and the sprayer on my iron doesn’t work. So I turned the hose on it after I finished pinning it out. Gently. With the spray nozzle. Pointed up in the air.

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It dried really quickly! I gave the rest of the yarn (47 grams out of 100) to my friend Claudia; she doesn’t mind knitting with laceweight and the color is great for her. Now I’m finishing my 3 year sock.

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I took that picture yesterday, and now I’m down to the end. Do I graft the toe, or do I finish with my usual “run the yarn through the needles and pull tight because I’m too lazy to look up kitchener stitch”? If I kitchener, I’d have to undo the first one and do that, too; I want them to match. It might be a good exercise, though. What do you think?

The magic of blocking

My friend Claudia knit a beautiful shawl. It’s Ene’s Scarf by Nancy Bush (rav link). She blocked it, but it was a bit small and didn’t wrap the way she wanted it to. I offered to block it more aggressively, since I have blocking wires and I’m not afraid to use them!

Pre-blocking, the shawl was 55″ x 29″. I didn’t take a picture; it was late at night when I was finally ready to attack it. I gave it a good soak with some Soak (love this stuff), and then blocked it out to 63″ x 33″. Wet wool is amazingly stretchy. I could have tried to make it even bigger, but it looks nice where it is now. I’m hoping the extra 8 inches across the top makes it wide enough to wrap the way she wants.

Here’s the shawl, now that it’s dry. I love how much airier it feels.

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The lace is really pretty.

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And the edge is gorgeous!

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Nice work, Claudia!

Are you an intrepid blocker? It makes a world of difference!

Adventures in blocking

It’s fall, as of yesterday. Time to take off the ankle bracelet. Time to put on jeans and real shoes. Time to wash and block the February Lady!

I’ve been dreading blocking this sweater because of all the stories I’d read on Ravelry about this yarn, Dream in Color Classy, growing. But I couldn’t wear it without washing it because it was full of excess dye that I didn’t want on my clothes. I ran it through a short warm cycle in a zippered pillowcase in the washing machine with Brown Sheep wool wash and some vinegar to set the dye last night. When I took it out, it was enormous! It had grown to 1.5 times its length, and at least twice its width. And the fabric felt very, very thin. I was freaking out. But the ball band did say machine wash, lay flat or machine dry. It was time for the leap of faith.

I put it in the dryer for 20 minutes. Still damp. Still all stretchy looking. Another 20 minutes. My dryer cools down towards the end of the cycle, so it was still dampish. I laid the poor bedraggled thing out on a towel and patted it into shape to dry overnight. It was still pretty waffly.

This morning I checked it, and it was still a bit damp. I still really wanted to wear it, so back into the dryer it went. And it came out the same size it had been before I washed it. A miracle! The yarn did lose a lot of fuzz in the dryer, and it’s a little fuzzier than it was before I blocked it. I wore it this morning, and it grew about 1.5 inches in length during the day. Here it is:

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And here’s a closer view of the lace:

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I don’t know if I’d use this yarn again. It’s so gorgeous, and it smells great (even after washing), but it’s so nerve wracking blocking it! And if it’s going to require machine drying to make it pop back to size, I wish it didn’t make it fuzzy…

But it’s done, and cozy and wearable. On to the Central Park Hoodie!

Brown is beautiful

All of my yarn pictures are brown today! I’m sending this spiral rib cap to a friend, and I needed a picture of it to go with its pattern before I send it. The hat is the loveliest, softest cotton blend: Classic Elite Premier, 50% pima cotton, 50% tencel. I think it will make a great chemo cap because of its softness, or just a great knocking around cap.

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It looks like it’s flared at the brim, but really it’s not. It’s a head-hugging cap. I hope she likes it.

My mailbox had a surprise in it yesterday: handspun yarn from Melissa at Days of Tea and Knitting. It’s beautiful! Thanks, Melissa. I’m waiting for the yarn to tell me what it wants to be, besides gorgeous out by the bamboo. The first picture is a little more true to the color.

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I bound off Shetland Triangle 2 last night. I remembered to take measurements this time. Unblocked, it’s 39″ wide by 19″ tall. It’s on the blocking wires now, and it’s 70″ wide by 35″ tall. That’s a lot of stretch! Here are the details for this shawl:

Shetland Triangle by Evelyn A. Clark, from Interweave Knits’ Wrap Style.

Size 7 26″ circular Lantern Moon Ebony needle
One and a third? skeins of Silver, Silk, and Superwash Merino Sock Yarn from Painted Skeins  (skein is 100 grams, 420 yards). Twelve repeats of the body section, versus 8 in the pattern. I left off the last two rows of the edging to make the edge less pointy (thanks again, BrooklynTweed) and I cast off knit-wise on the wrong side to counteract stockinette’s tendency to roll. I used a size 9 needle as the working needle to cast off.

Summary: Like my first shetland triangle, but one more repeat of the body section, and needles one size bigger. The first shawl is 54″ wide and 26″ tall. The extra repeat and the bigger needles made a big difference. I may reblock the first one to see if I can make it a little bigger and lacier, but I’ll have to wait until the blocking board is free.

Just to keep with the brown theme, I should let you know that this colorway is Brick on Brown. And it’s gorgeous. Picture will have to wait until it’s off the multi-colored beach towel. Don’t want to mess with the brown theme!

 

 

 

Shetland Triangle Love

The Shetland Triangle is done; it’s drying on blocking wires this very minute. I love how this turned out.

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See the subtle sparkle in the yarn? Love that silver!

Blocking wires really help pull this into shape and show off the pattern of the lace. Here’s the shawl before blocking:

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Cats don’t really help much with blocking; the wires are pretty tempting. But Mookie thinks she’s helping, and that’s what counts.

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I’ll post a picture of the shawl in action after it gets off the wires.

Details:
Shetland Triangle by Evelyn A. Clark, from Interweave Knits’ Wrap Style.
Size 6 26″ Lantern Moon circular Ebony needle (love these!)
A bit more than one skein of Silver, Silk, and Superwash Merino Sock Yarn from Painted Skeins  (skein is 100 grams, 420 yards). I added three extra repeats of the body section; if I had added only two (10 total), I could have done this with one skein of yarn.

I left off the last two rows of the edging to make the edge less pointy (thanks, BrooklynTweed) and I cast off knit-wise on the wrong side to counteract stockinette’s tendency to roll. I used a size 8 needle as the working needle to cast off.

I must really love it; I’m going to make another one starting tomorrow. This shawl is going to be a birthday present. I want one for me, too. There’s a Shetland Triangle KAL (knitalong) group on Ravelry, and the cast on date is May 1. I’m ready! I might use a size 7 needle and make it a little bit lacier.

And I’ve found a piano piece that’s pulling me back to the bench: It’s Beethoven’s Sonata in G Minor, Op. 49 No. 1. Just the first movement for now. Yummy.

Edited to add pix:

It’s really hard to take a picture of yourself!

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