Monday, February 9, 2009

Knitting: Confessions of a Blocking Virgin

I had a date on the weekend and I kept it. No procrastinating or getting out of it. I had made a commitment.

I first confessed that I was a blocking knits virgin. I took Dr. Phil's advice that I couldn't change what I didn't acknowledge.

So I confessed. Never mind my hiatus from knitting for over 10 years (that's another story). I had been an obsessive and passionate knitter for years and yet I had never blocked.

(Photos of the Eliott Bunny Vest in progress).

I'm particular about my knitting. I'm patient and I want it to be right. I don't fuss over it, and I've never ever cried over my mistakes--my theory on that is how can you cry over something that can be fixed???
I'd rip back row after row if necessary and in one case when I didn't want to rip back, I bought more wool and started again. But that piece didn't have an error. I just didn't like the colour combinations. That piece is now in use as a cat bed so nothing gets wasted.

Knitting is so forgiving. You CAN start again. You CAN fix it. It's not like a bad hair cut or fabric cut the wrong way. Now those are things that can be very challenging to fix.

I admit that I had gotten away without blocking. My garments always turned out the way they should and although (another confession) I'd never done a tension guage/swatch, all my knits fit me fine.

But now I'm making my own wool from rovings and I'm substituting other wools in patterns that appeal to me.
This has brought me face to face with the two things I had avoided to help resolve disasters - tension swatches and blocking.

I got out my Knitters' Companion book (LOVE that book by Vicki Square) and I looked up what to do.

I'd read about it before numerous times over the years but I always mentally glossed over the thought that I should actually do it myself.

You see, I'd gotten away without doing it. I did notice though that my knitted garments always hung and looked better after a wash. The washing seemed to settle the fabric - so I knew that blocking wasn't some extra task dreamed up to occupy more of my time.

(Pictured - Taos Chunky Vest in progress).

I used this puzzle like soft flooring material that I use to sit on when doing floor exercise (like that happens often--NOT!) I found it worked really well as a nice flat soft pin cusion.

I put my knits inside a wet towel and set the whole thing in water to get them nice and damp and then did the pinning out.

I will confess that I didn't get too busy with the tape measure. I focussed mostly on making sure the two sides were close to being the same... so I think my first forage into blocking was pretty light.

Now I'm thinking since I'm really out of the closet I should seriously consider a tension guage, especially since I had to reknit a garment twice because I was too lax about doing one.

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