June 19, 2014

Spaz knitting will get you nowhere.

Wadded up, a sad--and expensive--
kidlin shawl

I'm admittedly a total spaz. And my knitting style is no exception to that rule. I'm in a hurry all the time (which makes me prone to making mistakes), I don't like extra steps (I have historically been really, really bad at blocking and caring for some of my hand knits) and I am basically a goober.

One of the things that I must do in the Master Knitter's Program is undo this lifestyle. I must now confess my sins and repent of my wicked deeds. This post is part I of II posts (who knows...I may need III. And a trip to confession...) about how it is a bad idea to live your knitting life this way.

Today, I am undoing an evil. I am going back in time and finally blocking a lace shawl that I knitted late in the first year of my knitting life, which makes the shawl about 5 years old.

This would-be, lovely Monica shawl by designer Trudy Van
I now know that Eucalan Wash is my friend.
Stralen has been tossed in a pile, folded, yet crammed, in drawers (at least they are cedar) for all this time. This is pathetic, considering it took me between eight and nine weeks to finish it as a newish knitter. That's no way to treat what feels practically like one of your first children.

I did try to block it back then but I lacked the tools and know-how to do it and I lacked to patience to find out which tools and know-how were needed. So, I made it sort of wet and laid it out in a dark hall by the upstairs bedrooms. I didn't know anything about stretching out lace or pinning properly, I just let it sit there and dry. It was....just okay. It was still a bit fluffy and, when I wore it, it quickly went back to its scrunched up self.

No more pins in the house!
So, yesterday I washed it in Eucalan and lukewarm water for the recommended ten minutes. Then I carefully rinsed it so as not to stretch it in the same laundry sink. I did not twist, wring, pull or otherwise distort the shawl. I squeezed the water out against the side of the sink and then lifted it out with both hands, transferring it carefully to a large, very absorbent towel. I rolled it up in said towel and, like Elizabeth Zimmerman says you can, I jumped on it. Then I let Amy Rose jump on it.

It was fun and the water was pretty well out of it after that. Just a little left, enough for proper blocking.

The shawl turns out to be bigger than I used to think it was (I know, duh.) and took up nearly the entire length of the dining room table, which is no small feat. It used all of my T-pins and then two more boxes of rust proof sewing pins and both of my sets of blocking mats.

I carefully, dutifully, put the pins in at about one inch intervals, squared my corners straightened
stretched out--FINALLY!
and re-straightened my edges. Then I patiently forced myself to wait overnight to check for dryness.

Once off the blocking pads, I now get it why people are tempted to take photos of shawls in trees. Flowing, soft and pretty against a green background, my purple shawl has finally come to life.

One of those silly tree/shawl poses

For more information on blocking, here are just a few resources that I found helpful:

1. The Principles of Knitting, June Hemmons Hiatt
2. Vogue Ultimate Knitting Book
3. Knitty  on blocking (they have several stories on that topic)
4. Knitting Tips&Tricks by Lily Chin

Finally! It lays flat. Whew!
Indices are really helpful for topics like this. Check out the back of the book first!

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