Browsed by
Tag: shawl knitting

Knitting and modeling a shawl

Knitting and modeling a shawl

After a big hiatus, my knitting mojo finally woke up, and it was craving complicated stuff, not just the customary stocking stitch pattern.
I’ve a soft spot for lace shawls, particularly those by British pattern creator Boo Knits (find her by searching on Ravelry). Bev also allows knitters to sell finished shawls, as long as they credit her as the pattern author – very useful for a fibre business owner like myself.

I set out to knit a shawl named Out of Darkness. The lace pattern is beautiful, yet simple enough to not drive me mad (as long as I pay very close attention to the instructions and count my stitches frequently).

Lace looks very underwhelming when you’re knitting it. The stitches don’t look defined or “pop,” it’s as if you’ve gone through a lot of trouble for not much.

6DA0253F-E699-4E3D-B695-C45DE89AE58D

Once you block it, however, the magic happens.

DSC_1861

Isn’t the transformation amazing? The pointy bits look on point (pun intended), the beads suddenly make sense and this is now a thing of beauty, luxurious even.

This was intended as the show stopper in my new online shop, so I went out of my way to create decent photos.

DSC_1865DSC_1874DSC_1868DSC_1873

Finally, I also gathered up courage to take some “lifestyle photos,” as they say. I even managed a straight face…

DSC_1845

You know how that classical novel ends with, “reader, I married him?” Well, my story ends with, “reader, I ended up selling this beauty before I finished setting up my shop!” Ah, well.

So here it is, my adventures in lace knitting. What have you created with your hands lately?

The magic of blocking your hand knits

The magic of blocking your hand knits

Hello, Leonor here guest-writing for this week’s post.

After reading the title, if you’re not a knitter, you’re probably wondering what I’m talking about. What on earth is blocking and why am I writing about it?

Simply put, blocking refers to the act of stretching a knitted item with the aid of specialised wires and pins, with the intention of making it look a certain way. Think of all those airy, lacy shawls you’ve seen people wear – those have been carefully and mercilessly blocked into submission.

leonor1leonor2

Above is my latest project, the Banana Leaf Shawl. It looks nice-ish, but it lacks that finesse that one usually finds in store-bought shawls. The stitches look limp and you can see the differences in my gauge. Let’s make it right.

Firstly, soak the item in room-temperature water (add a nice wool wash if you want; I used Eucalan, a no-rinse Grapefruit-scented one). Let it sit for about 15 minutes and then carefully extract the excess water. Your knit needs to be damp but not dripping.

leonor3

Now comes the fiddly part. Using blocking wires, you’ll need to catch the edges of your project so it’ll keep the shape you want (in my case, everything’s a straight line, but it can be crescent-shaped, for example).
I decided to do this just before going to bed, thinking it wouldn’t take me long – how wrong I was. After one hour, I was losing the will to live. I’d need another hour to finish getting the wire through all the edges.

Next, you’ll need to pin the wires to a surface. There are special fancy mats you can buy for that, but I got some for home gyms that are a fraction of the price and do the job nicely.

leonor4

Because I have cats, I couldn’t risk them getting hurt on the blocking pins, so I had to move my blocks vertically for the night. I then used my desk chair to keep everything upright.

Once your finished object is dry, you can take the pins out and because fibre has memory (like the mohair and silk of this shawl), it’ll keep its shape… until you wash it again. Yes, blocking needs redoing every time a knit gets wet! Don’t you have a newfound respect for all the people who knit delicate lacy shawls?

leonor5

And here’s the finished product. I hope you can see how different my Banana Leaf now looks, comparing it to the first photo – from a slightly misshapen piece to one with sharp, well-defined edges. It’s grown quite a bit, too.

leonor6

leonor7

The stitches look so much better, too, neater. They’re suddenly really well defined. This shawl now looks like something one would see in a shop front, if I do say so myself.

leonor8

Even if you’re not a knitter, I hope you’ve marvelled, like I do every time, over the magic of blocking knitwear. If you fancy reading the technical bits about this particular project, head on over to my Ravelry page.

Have you ever done blocking? Can you think of any ways this technique could be used for other fibre endeavours? I’d love to read (and steal) your good ideas.

%d bloggers like this: