Adventures in Blocking

Last week we took a look at how one begins to make lace. Now that we're all lace aficionados, let's talk a bit about how we finish our lace.

 

Freshly made lace is rumpled, springy, and stretchy. It's still lovely, but not at all what it was "meant" to be. To achieve our airy, drapey, elegant lace, we need to block it. There's enough variety in how to do this to confuse anyone, so Marcy and I are both going to talk about our adventures in blocking on our blogs. We used two different methods, and you can mix and match the different steps we used to suit your project. You can find Marcy's adventure here.

We'll continue with our example from last week, Kimberly McAlindin's Moss Fern Wrap, which Marcy and I have both recently completed and blocked for your (and our) pleasure.

My shawl was made with a wool/soy/cotton/chitin blend sock yarn (South West Trading Company Tofutsie, one ball). Once it was finished, I soaked it for a few minutes in a bowl of warm water with a bit of wool wash in it.

 I then stretched it out on a foam mat and threaded blocking wires through each edge of the shawl, weaving the wire through the lace openings. Then I gently stretched the wires away from each other, stretching and opening the stitches of my lace. When it was stretched out to the point where the lace looked nice and open and the measurements of the shawl were to my liking, I pinned down the wires.

  

 I let the shawl dry over night, and then, voila! I had lovely lace!

So, whether you pin, wire, spritz, soak, or steam–blocking is an essential step toward achieving a finished look to your lace.

I look forward to seeing your lace pieces in our gallery!

Until next time,

Adventures in Blocking

One of my current knit-alongs is the Heather Hoodie Vest from Knitscene.

The vest has a really beautiful X and O cable pattern up the back and the fronts, and a bunch of us were merrily knitting along and noticed that we were getting some ladders in a certain portion of the cable.

It doesn't really detract from the overall effect, but it was bugging me so I contacted the designer, Debbie O'Neill, and asked her if she had any tips.

Nice lady that she is, Debbie emailed me back immediately and told me that she'd had the same problem. Her finished Hoodie looked great, though, in the Knitscene photo spread that shows the project—so what gives?

Debbie said that after she blocked the pieces, the yarn relaxed a bit and the ladders closed up. Well, what do you know? Blocking to the rescue again!

Blocking is to finished pieces what gauging is to sizing; namely, a crucial step!! I have a friend who doesn't block her finished sweaters; she only blocks lace pieces. She says she doesn't like how blocked pieces look like they've been ironed. I told her she was over-blocking! Blocked pieces should end up looking smooth and even, not crushed. But she still doesn't block—she simply likes that "fresh-off-the-needles" look.

I always block, so after talking to Debbie, I was a little concerned that I wouldn't get the same result of the ladders closing up because I used a different yarn than she did for the model.

So I dug out my swatch and blocked it.

My hoodie is being knit out of Tahki Bunny, a Merino wool, alpaca, and acrylic blend. The model is knit from Lamb's Pride Bulky, which is a wool-mohair blend. I thought maybe my swatch wouldn't behave the same because of the alpaca and acrylic components.

I soaked my swatch in a sink of lukewarm water until it was totally wet. Then I rolled it in a towel to get most of the water out, pinned it to my blocking board, and waited for it to dry.

Before blocking. After blocking!

Wonder of wonders—it worked! The yarn bloomed a bit and those ladders tightened up. I think they'll probably reappear a little in wearing, but that's the nature of this pattern and I can live with that.

Have you had any similar blocking revelations? Share them with us in the comments.

Here's to great patterns and to believing in blocking process!

Cheers,

P.S. There's a new Knitscene out in your local yarn stores (or get yours here). Hurry and get your copy before they're gone!

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