Playing with blocks

First up, a friendly (and totally self-promoting) reminder. The Daphne Ann Mystery Knit price will increase from $6.00 to $9.50 on Friday. So today and tomorrow is all you got if you want the cheaper price. We start knitting on August 15th!!! Second on the agenda is a tutorial. It's been awhile since I've done a tutorial. But here's the thing. ALL of my lace patterns will look better, get bigger, and be nicer if you give them a good, rigorous blocking. That sounds a bit um, yeah. But it's the truth.

Today I blocked Renita. It will be for sale just as soon as my fabulous tech editor finishes with it and I get some proper pictures. So we're gonna do this step by step - how to block a triangular shawl.

SUPPLY LIST

  • Knitted piece, with ends woven in, but NOT trimmed
  • Water and a big bowl or basin, and some sort of wool soak if desired
  • Listening material - you can't watch TV and do this properly
  • Pins and/or wires and/or cotton string
  • Blocking surface - I use a 6 foot square styrofoam block. Some folks block on their carpeted floor or bed with a towel underneath. I also have those nice garage foam blocks that interlock.

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STEP ONE: Time for a bath!

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You need to soak your piece for a minimum of 30 minutes. I use warm tap water and a squirt of Soak or Eucalan. You don't need to rinse out the good wool washes. And you need the time to make sure all the fibers are fully saturated. After the bath you need to use a towel or somesuch to carefully squeeze the excess water out of the knitted piece.

STEP TWO: Establish an edge. You can do this with pins or wires or string. This shawlette has a shallow triangle shape, so I establish the top edge first.

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This shawlette has a nice picot edging with eyelets along the top. So I begin by threading my blocking wires (I used three long ones) through the eyelets. This gives the shawlette a straight edge to pull against.

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After I have the wires in, I use some pins to hold the straight edge in place.

STEP THREE: Stretch out the other two sides. You can use wires or string for this, but I like pins.

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I do the points a few at a time. And I do them well spaced apart so I am stretching things as evenly as possible.

STEP FOUR: Fix the details. Again, I'm using pins here. You can run a wire or string through all the points, but I like this method better. Although I did run out of T-Pins this go-round.

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You can see how the picot points are nice and even. I usually remove the holding wires I started with. I want the eyelets to form naturally from the points - not from the wire.

STEP FIVE: Straighten up the edges.

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This is kind of wonky here as you can see. So I use the pins to stretch the points out into a straight line. When I'm finished fixing it, things looks more like this:

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The points are lined up (to my satisfaction) and the entire stockinette portion of the shawl has opened up and grown.

All that's left to do now is let the beautiful finished object dry in place - at least 24 hours - and then you can trim the woven in ends. I like the styrofoam block because I can stand it upright and not take up as space in my little house. This is not the *only* way to block, but this is the way I do it. Hope it helps you on your next lacy adventure.