shawlette blocking

The following questions were posted in the comments to my last post.  I thought I'd go ahead and answer by writing up a new post!
So I have a technical question for you...how do you block something that large? Where do you find a space big enough to spread it out, where you can leave it pinned until it dries? Or is there some other magical method of blocking that I'm not familiar with that allows you to block it instantly in small sections? Blocking is one of the things that keeps me from certain projects and fibers. 

No, there's no magical method of blocking that I know of.  I suppose you could try steam block it in smaller sections, but you'd still need to pin it and it would ultimately take more time and effort.  Not sure if you could get the sides evenly stretched either.  So I think it'd be near impossible to make a shawl like this look right any other way than wet blocking.  That being said, don't be afraid of projects that require blocking!!!
This shawlette is only the second project I've had to properly block.  Most of the time I will just wash and then shape the item, laying it flat or hanging it to dry.  But when it comes to a lace project where you really want to open up the lacework, the best way to accomplish this is wet blocking.  For any non-knitters reading this, that basically means you need to get the item wet, remove excess water (you don't want it dripping!), carefully shape it, pin it in place, and leave it until it's dry.  When you take the pins out, the item will keep its new {stretched} shape and you can see the lovely lace you knitted.

The first project I wet blocked was this lace scarf that I finished back in January 2010. 

Pattern: Haruha scarf by Mari Muinonen  
Yarn: Winterside Farm 100% wool sport   
Needle size: US 8

I have a large enough house that's it's not too difficult to find a corner for blocking. To block the shawlette, I put down a couple towels in a corner of our living room/computer room and just started pinning it, shaping and stretching it as I did so.  The towels keep the carpet from getting wet and the carpet and its foam backing are easy to push the pins down into--sort of like pinning into a cushion.   I should have taken a photo of this so I could show you what I mean!  I'll try and remember to the next time I block an item.

Pattern: Summer Mystery Shawlette by Wendy D. Johnson
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy {sock/fingering weight}
Needle Size:  US 6

It took some time to get it blocked just right--I think I re-pinned and/or adjusted it at least 2 or 3 times to stretch it a little more or shape it a little more evenly, but it was worth it to get it to look as nice as I did.

I had only to leave it overnight to dry, so I just told the kids to stay away from it and I sort of blockaded the area too.  The next day I checked to see if it was dry {it was!}, unpinned it and took some photos!

If I had a small house or apartment with limited space, I'd block a project like this on a bed first thing in the morning.  Most projects like this one would be dry by bedtime.  However, an item made with thicker/heavier yarn would take longer to dry.  A fan in the room would help circulate the air and might quicken the evaporation process a tad too.

I did find the process a bit trying because I have such a tendency towards perfection!  For a perfectionist like myself, I think I'd recommend getting a blocking board with grid-lines and maybe blocking wires too. Here's a blocking cloth that might be made into a DIY blocking board!  These blocking mats look useful too! Someday I will invest in these tools and blocking will {hopefully!} be a bit easier and the end result even more perfectly beautiful!

Hope this answers your questions! 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post.

    I have a project that will need blocking if I ever finish it, and I don't think I can block it on the bed, as I don't usually have time for such things until the evening (and we usually sleep in on the weekends). Too bad I don't have carpet that I can pin into....naahh, I love my hardwood floors. I'll just have to do something with big towels, or maybe get the blocking mats - those do look useful.