Tag Archives: blocking

Inspinknity Blocking Wires Review

I bought some Inspinknity blocking wires a few months ago, in anticipation of.blocking my Twin Leaf Crescent. I had knit two of these before (one prototype, one FO) and had not loved the blocking process.

old twin leaf blocking

Scallops are hard to block! Last time I used straight blocking wires across the top, and three pins in each scallop to try to avoid a point. It was not fun trying to get all those scallops pinned out.

twin leaf blocking

This time, I used straight wires across the top again.

inspinknity twin leaf

The Inspinknity wires come in two weights, and I went with the ultra-thin wires, which are meant for lace. I threaded the Inspinknity wires along the edge of my scallops, right where the reverse stockinette edge meets the stockinette leaf. This gave me a continuous edge to pull out with pins.

twin leaf blocking closeup

twin leaf blocking

It was the easiest scalloped pin out ever! The wire kept the pinning from making things to pointy, although I did use 2 pins per scallop to get the desired shape. The high points between the scallops bounced up and were easy to place, too.

inspinknity wires

These wires are memory wire, and they’ll take whatever shape you pin out. When you’re done, they bounce back to straight. They’re stored as circles to save space. I’m hooked! Or pinned. I’ll be using these again.

twinleafkal2016 begins

I knit this shawl with yarn from the frogged prototype which had been wet blocked before. I didn’t try to get the kinks out of the yarn before reknitting. My stockinette looked a little wonky before blocking, and I hoped it would block out.

twin leaf reknit

It didn’t all even up. For some reason, it doesn’t show as much in the lace section.

I’ve re-knit a lot of yarn before, but not necessarily after wet blocking. On chunkier yarns, I don’t think it matters as much. But for this fine, smooth fingering weight, it would have been better to re-skein, soak, and hang it to straighten it out before re-using. Live and learn! I’m not frogging to re-knit again. I’m just going to call it character, or prosecco bubbles.

Do you use blocking wires? I’m in love with these!

Meander Cowl with Delicious Yarns Two Sweets

I just finished this cowl and I don’t want to take it off, ever. It’s delicious!

meander cowl collage

I’ve named it Meander, because the zigazagging lace and cables do a nice walkabout, and the accent color meanders through the whole thing even more. The lace makes it airy enough that it’s not too warm, and it looks pretty, too.

meander close

I knit this with a new to me yarn from Delicious Yarns. The premise is pretty fun: Lots of fiber, no calories, delicious! This is the sport weight version of Two Sweets (2 color accents); the colorway is Chocolate Mix 3. I wish I had thought to take a picture of it before winding, but I wound it before going to Hawaii as “just in case” knitting. I didn’t know what it wanted to be yet, and didn’t get to it until this week.

Delicious Yarns fingering

Here’s a skein of of their fingering weight yarn in Sprinkles (Superwash Merino with little pops of color on a natural background). I bought it to coordinate with the sport weight, thinking that my yarn at home was fingering, but it’s not. So I’ll either return it or save it for another day. The sport weight has spoken, and spoken well indeed. This is a loop cowl, 52 inches long, blocked. Pattern coming soon; it’s at the tech editor now. It would be nice in a semisolid color, too, but the meandering of the accent color adds a bit of fun.

meander pano

First time I’ve ever used the pano feature of my iPad to photograph knitting, but I couldn’t fit the whole thing in any other way!

Does your yarn tell you what it wants to be? Or is it less bossy than mine? I’ve had this yarn since June, and it finally spoke up!

Blocking, belatedly

I recently found this sweater at the back of my closet, mostly unworn. I finished this Heather Hoodie at Crafty Moms weekend in February 2011. It was designed as a vest, and I adapted it to include sleeves, because a jacket makes more sense to me than a bulky vest. This is one big bulky sweater, 9.5 skeins of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky, which means 950 grams, or 33.25 ounces, or nearly two pounds. I think it felt too chunky for me to want to wear it often.

hoodie back

I recently blocked my Edin cardi. I wore it yesterday, and I’m completely happy with it. It’s a perfect fit. The fabric relaxed a bit and it feels like I’m wearing a cloud. Modeled pic someday!

But it gave me a brainstorm: What if I could get the monster cables on this Heather Hoodie to relax a bit, too? I just looked up the Ravelry page to get the link, and it says, “The cable pattern pulls in as you knit, but will relax upon blocking.” I can’t believe I never blocked it, but it was knit at a time before I became a blocking evangelist. Into the sink it went. It soaked up so much water (and ran some excess dye, too), it was really heavy when I hauled it out. I couldn’t just roll it in a towel and expect to get most of the water out, so I put it in my washing machine on delicate and spun it for 30 seconds at a time, rearranging often so it couldn’t stretch out.

heather hoodie blockingblocking

I patted it out to size, and immediately it felt smoother, nicer, more relaxed. The cables no longer pull in. Blocking is magic. Three days later, it’s finally dry, and it fits so much better. What? Two new (ish) sweaters to wear this season?

honey cardi wip

I’m feeling empowered. Maybe I should rip back the almost complete first sleeve on my abandoned Honey cardigan and make them the way I want them (fitted, not belled), and then I’d have three new sweaters…

Go me!

Swatching and blocking, yarn and ice cream

Do you always swatch? Do you always wash and block your swatches? True confessions time here: I don’t always swatch, and when I do, I don’t always wash and block it. This has come back to bite me several times. Lesson learned! I’ve modified my approach: If the yarn is familiar to me, I might dive right in. A new yarn? It’s best to do my homework.

knitpicks galileo

This is Knit Picks Galileo in a deliciously plummy color called Urchin. It reminds me of these shield urchins I saw last December.

shingle urchins hawaii

But I digress.

This ia a new to me yarn. It’s sport weight, a 50/50 blend of Merino and Bamboo viscose. Two ply. It’s deliciously bouncy and round to knit with. Occasionally I’ll split the yarn with the Hiya Hiya Sharps that I’m knitting with, but I want that pointy tip for the lace stitches I’m working. It’s a reasonable trade-off.

The ballband recommends a size US 3-5 needle. I started with a 7, just for grins, because it’s going to be lace. Definitely too floppy. I swatched with a 6, and it felt pretty good, but I thought I’d push the envelope and swatch with a 5, too. It felt a little full on the needle, but surprise! It was my favorite of the three blocked swatches. It relaxed a lot from the bouncy knitted piece, but it also had more of the structure it needed to make this lace behave. So glad I swatched AND blocked in this instance. I’ve been knitting like crazy, and I’m halfway done with the project. No pictures; it’s a secret for now.

Speaking of plummy, my friends offered me plums from their super-productive tree again this year. I picked two colanders full, which was enough for two batches of jam.

yellow plums

I thought I’d come up with my perfect plum jam last summer. That was before I had some plum bourbon jam on a mini-doughnut at Pip’s Original Doughnuts. And over the year I’d also decided that I like a more traditional pectin set for plum jam. (Pomona’s is still my go-to for strawberry, and no pectin at all for raspberry.)

pdxknitterati bourbon plum jam

After the first batch, I went for the trifecta of favorite things: Plum, bourbon, crystallized ginger. Heaven. Not particularly boozy, but a extra depth of flavor that plain plum jam doesn’t have.

Notes for myself:

6 cups chopped plums
1/4 c water
Bring to boil, simmer 5 minutes. Add 1 box Sure-Jell pectin for less sugar (pink box) mixed with 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to boil.

4.5 cups sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Boil 1 minute per pectin package drections, water bath process for 10 minutes (sea level).


I must be an extravagant measurer, or maybe I should re-measure my plums after the first simmer, which I don’t, but I always end up with a bit more jam than I’m expecting. I can only process 8 jars with my stockpot/orange silicone trivet setup, and that’s my expected yield. Maybe it’s the added bourbon, ginger, water? Anyway, the extra jam goes into a jar and into the fridge. I had extras from 2 batches in the fridge, so I did this.

pdxknitterati plum bourbon jam ice cream

Plum bourbon jam ice cream. It was a good reason to use the ice cream maker the kids gave to me a couple years ago. And they were coming for dinner!

pdxknitterati plum bourbon jam ice cream

Tastes as good as it looks!

Inspired by Erica’s recipe, but I doubled it and adjusted it for sweetness:

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup plum bourbon jam
up to 1/4 cup sugar, to taste

Mix milk, cream, jam. Taste! Adjust sweetness as desired. Process in ice cream maker 25-30 minutes. This is a soft set; I put the ice cream in a storage container in the freezer for a couple hours before serving for a firmer set. Delicious. In a perfect world I might make a custard base for a smoother texture, but that would mean more work. I wonder if I’d like it with half and half instead of cream? This is like swatching, with food! But I’m guessing that laziness will win out, and this simple version is probably how it will always happen at my house.

I think this would be spectacular with strawberry balsamic jam, with some additional sugared strawberries thrown in. Just sayin’.

So, extravagant swatching, blocking, measuring, eating! What is your extravagance this summer?

Pink…yarn, wine, and a PDX bridge ramble

I’ve just bound off and blocked a new design project.

Black Trillium Lilt

Such pretty leftovers! And they kind of go with my wine.

Black Trillium Lilt

I’ve loved every moment of knitting with this gorgeous gradient kit from Black Trillium Fibres. It’s Lilt, an 85/15 superwash merino/silk blend. Very nice. I’ve been intrigued by gradients recently, but this was my very first adventure with one. I’ll be back for more.

It’s a gorgeous day for blocking outdoors. And after my bird poop blocking incident, I’ve devised a way to protect my knits. I can’t show you what I’m blocking, but here’s the scoop.

screen for blocking

I had a roll of this fiberglass screen material in my basement. Once upon a time, I was going to make simple screens to put in our casement windows when they were open. Long story short, it never happened, and then we replaced all the windows a few years ago. (54 windows. Ouch. Love the new ones.) So I cut off a piece and laid it over my blocking project. I put a few extra pins in the project to hold the screen up above it, and a few more pins to hold down the corners. Perfect! And no bird pooped on it…this time.

Portland bridgesSteel, Broadway, Fremont Bridges

We’re having a very lovely summer in Portland. I walked the downtown bridge loop with a friend the other morning. It’s 2.7 miles from the Hawthorne Bridge to the Steel Bridge on the East Side Esplanade, over the Steel, along Waterfront Park on the west side, and back over the Hawthorne.

public pianoPlay me!

A picture perfect day. And we also took a little side trip to see the new Tillikum Crossing bridge, which is scheduled to open September 12. It’s for pedestrians, bicycles, and light rail. No cars. So pretty.

Tillikum Crossing

Yellow plums are ripe; there will be some plum bourbon jam in my near future. What’s on your needles or in your kitchen this summer?

Blocking: A cautionary tale

You know I’m a big believer in blocking hand knits. It makes such a difference in the finished piece.

Rosaria edge detail

I love blocking my knits outdoors in the summer. Last month, just before TNNA, I finished my second Summertime Blues and took advantage of the very fine weather to block it in the back yard. And for the first time ever, a bird pooped on my knitting. Crap! And I do mean crap. I spot cleaned it, but there was a definite stain. No time to wash and re-block, so I wore it anyway. It was clean, just spotty!

Summetime Blues pdxknitterati

Today I washed and re-blocked, but no luck. I think the sun baked it in. It’s small, not too noticeable (there are some darker dye spots in this semi-solid, but they’re blue, not greenish), and it’s on the back, at least the way I wear it.

pdxknitterati summertime blues

So there you have it. Did I block it outdoors today? You betcha! What are the odds that it would happen again? I think I just dodged a bullet there!

Speaking of blocking, I’m teaching Blocking, It’s Magic this summer and fall:
Twisted in Portland, Saturday July 11, 2:30 p.m.
Wool ‘n’ Wares in West Linn, Saturday August 1, 2 p.m.
Twisted in Portland, Monday August 31, 5:30 p.m.

And I’m doing a short presentation on blocking for the Tigard Knitting Guild on August 20, 7 p.m.

Clearly, I’m a blocking evangelist! Do you block your knits?

Upcoming classes, and catching up the blog

It’s been super busy here since I came home from Port Ludlow, Edmonds, Ellensburg. I feel like there’s a mega-post about that road trip that needs to happen, but I haven’t had a chance to process it yet. So I’m going to jump ahead and let you know what’s going on now, and then work backwards. We’ll pretend it’s ballroom dancing or something…

May is shaping up to be a busy month. I’m doing a workshop for the Tigard Knitting Guild on May 9. We’re going to play with mosaic slipped stitch knitting. In the morning we’ll learn how it works, and in the afternoon we’ll design something with it! This is such a great way to play with color, but we only use one color per row. No carrying, no floats.

pdxknitterati knitting

On May 16, I’ll be down in Salem teaching at Tangled Purls. I’m teaching two classes. The first is Blocking: It’s Magic from 10 to noon.

Rosaria edge detail

In the afternoon I’m teaching beginning stranded colorwork with the Kerfuffle Cowl from 1:30 TO 4 p.m. Contact the shop to register for either of these.

pdxknitterati kerfuffle cowl

I’ll also have my trunk show there all day! We’ll have a meet and greet between classes, so come take a class or just say hello.

I’ve been knitting like mad this month. I’m working with Knitted Wit’s new Targhee Shimmer yarn, 80/20 Targhee/silk in DK and worsted weights. The wool is sourced 100% sheep to skein in the USA. I designed a Criss Cross Cowl in Kiss and Teal (to go with the Criss Cross mitts and hat and beret) with the worsted, pattern coming soon. This color is amazing, but it doesn’t photograph well. In real life, it’s a very rich aquamarine, like a deep blue-green emerald.

pdxknitterati criss cross cowl

I knit a pair of Pointer Mitts with the DK, in Liberally Bleeding Heart.

pdxknitterati pointer mitts

These are going to TNNA, the The National Needlearts Association trade show at the end of May. There will also be a Pointer cap to go with the mitts, but a sample knitter is doing that one for me. And a Sophie’s Rose Shawlette in Knitted Wit’s Single Fingering, in Enchanted Forest and Salted Caramel which I’m not knitting, but I’ll block it. Thank goodness for sample knitters!

I’ve also been diligently knitting on my Tilt Shift KAL project. Two skeins down, one left to go. This is very relaxing knitting for me, because it’s 80% stockinette. I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and watching TV with it. The KAL has been going on all month, and should be wrapping up this week.

Tilt Shift KAL

I don’t know that I’ll have mine done by then, because I have a design project to finish before TNNA which is higher priority because it has a deadline. Click, click, click…

I also blocked my Fern Shawlette that I knit for my previous KAL. Finally! You’ll note that I’m artfully hiding the ends I have yet to sew in.

pdxknitterati fern shawlette

In my spare time (ha!) my friends Carole, Suzanne, and I put on a tea for 60 on Saturday. Planning, shopping, cooking, plating, serving. And no pictures of the event; I was too busy kitchen wenching. But Sue from Tango Mango came and did a presentation with her collection of vintage purses, which was very cool. Here are just a few.

princess mary purseNote the floral detail at the bottom.

vintage beaded bags

And then there was an Earth Day event on Sunday that required folding some origami cranes, among other things…

origami cranes for earth day

I’ll do a report on the Strung Along Retreat soon. It was great. But I have to wash and block my little swatches from Clara Parkes’ class before I can blog it!

What have you been up to while I’ve been away?

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



and during blocking.








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.


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.


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,


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


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.


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.


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.

sunset glow

It’s a party!

waterfront park

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

scrunchy pi

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.


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.

more pi

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.

3 yr sock

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.


The lace is really pretty.

lace detail

And the edge is gorgeous!

edge detail

Nice work, Claudia!

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