The more observant among you will be sure to notice in the following pictures that this is written on my day off, yes: Day Off
but as a fellow worker at KRON used to say to me, "For you, anything's too good." Um, thanks?
Anyhoo, I got a small period of time today in which to block my Estonian Haapsalu shawl, in the works for a year (interrupted a million times, of course) using a beautiful seafoam shade of Jaegger Zephyr silk/wool lace weight. So I thought I'd share my personal blocking process with you.
I know that being super-self-taught for so long, it was always good for me to see pictures of things if I couldn't get a real-live demonstration. Here's the caveat: just like knitting, everyone's different when it comes to blocking. Many a lace knitter would rear back in horror at my use of blocking wires instead of pinning every point, for instance. Also, over the years I've gotten a lot more relaxed about exact measurements, because after blocking, it always sproings back to what it wants to be. Having said that, I will say that blocking things squarely to right angles is pretty important, because I've had stuff kind of stay biased when I wasn't careful about that. That's one of the reasons I always use wires where I can. (Side note: Also, on a shaped item (like a sweater) I'll use wires for the straight parts and then pin the curves. Works great for me.)
Now here's one of the reasons I use wires: I can string up much of my shawl while sitting comfortably on the couch, not hunched over my styrofoam board:
|Poking point after point, always from back to front|
|Snickers naps on left, latest project chart on right!|
With Snickers napping contentedly next to me. There are yarn ends hanging all over the shawl and Snickers. I never darn in ends until after blocking, so they don't wriggle out when the item is being stretched.
Now I move to my blocking board, which consists of 2 pieces of housing insulation from Home Depot, 1 inch thick, with mildew-fighting sheeting on both sides. My old boards didn't have that Tyvek stuff coating them, and they got mildew-smelling and never could be used again. By the way, the other side has handy markings on it (plus big blue Tyvek ads) if I wanted to easily measure my pieces.
|Using board's straight edge to line up scallops|
I just start by pinning the wires (pins in wires only, not shawl) with sturdy non-rusting T-Pins, in a couple of places on each side just to square things up.
Then I place more T-pins, smoothing the shawl with flattened hands as I adjust and adjust.
|Geez it's even prettier than I'd imagined|
Turns out this darn shawl is bigger than my boards! So at the far end, there's a folded up cutting board from my closet's sewing department (haha).
Now most of you may know that my house is tiny, and this would be the bed we need to sleep in tonight! Snickers would be so put out if we didn't! But the beauty of lace is that it will probably be dry by tonight. If not, the whole thing just gets moved onto the floor somewhere. The kitchen would be the only open space that big I fear, since there are looms and spinning wheels everywhere
Okay, next time you'll get a nice picture of that gorgeous shawl completely done done done.
Now, just a small rant from me about must-have-machine-washable-yarn people. I totally accept that if you feel that way. Really. As a retailer, I'm ever so happy to sell you the much more expensive by the yard superwash wool, or the acrylic blends we purvey so much of. Fine.
But even if you set aside my argument that hand-wash wools are so much more alive,
and take stitch patterns beautifully,
and are economical
, I want to say that hand washing any item takes no more time or effort than machine washing!
1. Fill dishpan with tepid water. You can pour coffee or dial your ever-loving freakin cell phone at the same time as this step, so it doesn't even count.
2. Squirt in a tiny bit of no-rinse wash like Eucalan (grapefruit's my favie) or Soak or another brand; swish once with hand.
3. Drop in socks or sweater and squeeze gently just once to get water into garment. (OK so now your hands are wet and I should count drying them as a time-consuming effort.)
|Actually I already soaked the shawl in this first|
4. Soak for 10-15 minutes. It is the soaking that removes the soilage. More time for more, ahem, "soiled." This does not count as effort. Go do something else.
5. Remove, squeeze out, drop on old towel. Roll up, drying hands at same time (all counts as one effort, ha).
|Ready to roll|
6. Step on rolled-up towel, Have fun with this. Make monster faces. Wave arms to hand-wash gods.
|An actual fun part to hand washing|
7. Toss over shower curtain rod or lay flat on old towel somewhere and leave overnight.
|Also note my new wallpaper!|
Now really, how tough is that? How much effort overall? And for that, you get longer lasting hand knits. By the way, even when I do use machine-wash yarns (unless it's machine-loving cotton or linen), I hand wash 'em anyway. I think it's because I love making monster faces.
Next time: nope I didn't forget about Feed Your Creativity and Sock of the Every Other Month Club.