Tag Archives: lace

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!

Things I’ve learned about lace knitting

(Swatches for 4 shawls I want to knit. Right now.)

  • Swatching lace patterns is fun and addicting, and I like fussing with them to get the effect I want. Combine, alter, chart, swatch, refine, repeat.
  • Swatching in practice yarn is way better than repeatedly frogging and reknitting your “real” yarn. I switched to some light worsted yarn I had on hand. (White swatches in the picture.)
  • Swatching lace with heavier yarn will tell you a lot, but not everything. Swatching with leftover sock yarn is better, if fingering weight yarn is your goal. I wised up and bought a 50g skein of Louet Gems for swatching, because I needed a light color for a design submission. It’s the green ball in the picture, and it’s lovely to work with. I may have to get some more, to knit for reals.
  • Beads add lovely weight, drape, and bling to lace. I’m hooked (hah!) on the crochet hook method of adding beads.
  • Blocking is magic. (We already knew that, but it’s been reaffirmed, and can’t be said enough.)
  • An old black velvet dress makes a great background for a pale lace swatch photo. (No pic, it’s for a design submission.)
  • This elastic bind off is way better than the usual chain bind off, for lace that is going to be blocked: K2, * slip left needle into fronts of the 2 worked stitches on right needle and knit them off together through the back loop (like an ssk), K1, repeat from *.
  • And last of all: I’m a little obsessive.

PS: I blame Sivia Harding for this trip down the lace rabbit hole. I took her workshop last Sunday, and can’t stop playing with ideas. You can take her class at Twisted next Saturday, March 30. It’s from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about possible obsession!

Overheard, in my head…

The conversation this week:


Wow, I have a lot of yarn left. Look at the size of that ball. I’m sure I can get one more 16 row repeat done before I start the edging.

Are you sure? Right now you have 256 stitches, and 16 rows is at least 4096 stitches.

Yeah, but look at the size of that ball of yarn. No problem.

OK, this lace pattern is so much fun to knit; go for it.

Hey, I’m on row 11, and this yarn seems to be disappearing at a prodigious rate.

Um, maybe you should weigh the yarn before this next row, and see how much yarn you’re using per row.

OK, 21 grams; OK, now 18 grams. That’s 3 grams per row…

Um, that means you have enough for 6 rows, maybe. Which means the last 4 rows of the lace repeat, and, um, TWO rows of edging.


And so, gentle reader, I took the whole thing off the needle, ripped out 12 rows, which is at least 3072 stitches, and got it all back on the needle.


This is the same picture, because I’m back at the same place. I took it after the big rip; I didn’t take one before because I didn’t really listen to that little voice, until it was too late. Sorry about the lighting; it was 1 a.m. But I had to do it then because I couldn’t go to bed knowing that it would be waiting for me in the morning.

Look at all those markers!



I’ve made two lace triangle shawls so far, the Shetland Triangle and Ishbel. I think it’s ingenious how these start at the center of the neck, and grow out from there. I want to know more about how this works, so I bought this book.


Knitting Lace Triangles by Evelyn A. Clark. The Shetland Triangle is one of her patterns, and it was a fun knit. This book is kind of a recipe book for knitting triangle shawls using four different lace stitches. You can use one, two, three, or all four of the different lace patterns. Ingenious! All of the patterns increase four stitches every other row.

What I really want to know, though, is what happens when the increases are more frequent, as in Ishbel. I know it makes the triangle shallower, but what happens to the lace at the sides? I guess I’ll have to chart it out and see.

Free Lace Patterns, and a Single Skein Club update

Knitting Daily (Interweave Knits) is giving away 7 free lace patterns. It’s a free download, but you have to register on their site. I particularly like the Tailored Scallops Cardigan by Pam Allen. It’s from the book Lace Style, published by Interweave. I haven’t chosen my next big sweater project yet, but this is in the running.

Go get your download!

In other news: It’s April, and that means that the second installment of Twisted’s Single Skein Club is ready for pick up! DH bought my membership for me for Christmas; it’s nice to have a surprise every other month, all year long.


If you’re a member, and haven’t picked up your package yet, don’t look any further. You’ll want to be surprised by this lovely project.


Here’s the package:

april ssc

A very interesting sock pattern from Chrissy Gardiner, some Louet Gems sport weight merino yarn (my favorite yarn weight for socks, hooray), and the coolest pen, ever. (This is all part of the universe’s plan to get me to knit toe-up socks…)

What makes this pen the coolest pen ever?


It has a tape measure in the top. Put *that* in your knitting bag!

The yarn is sage green, with a nice twist. (Green in the first two pictures are more accurate than the one below.) I’ve used this yarn before, and it is great to work with.


Looks like spring!

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.


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.


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.



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:


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


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

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!




Holey, holey, holey

I’m working on Evelyn Clark’s Shetland Triangle from Interweave Knits’ book, Wrap Style. Wow, this lace knitting is really addictive! The pattern is easy to remember, except for the first few stitches of the odd numbered rows, but other than looking at those few stitches on the chart, it’s cruise control knitting.

I love how the knitting looks like a crumpled blob on the needles, but when I spread it out a little, I can begin to see what the fir cone pattern is going to look like. Blocking will really bring out the pattern after I finish knitting. Soon!


The yarn I’m using is Silver, Silk, and Superwash Merino Sock Yarn from Painted Skeins. It has a thread of real silver in it, which appeals to the magpie in me.

I worked on this a little last week on the Amtrak train from Seattle. I went up to see Perri Knize read from her new book, Grand Obsession, at a piano party at Classical Grands. The book is the story of her search for the perfect piano, falling in love with one, and the journey that begins when the piano, Marlene, arrives having lost her distinctive voice. Perri is a member of a piano forum that I frequent, and it was nice to meet her in person! The trip also gave me a chance to catch up with some other piano friends.

Knit on!