Sunday, May 9, 2010

On Blocking Shawls

Pasteur's Laboratory
(Pasteur's Laboratory circa 1885, Musée Ville de Paris)

Interesting what one can find in a laboratory. In my case, knitting supplies.fine blocking wires
See this tube of surgical stainless steel rods? Once they'd have been packaged individually and autoclaved by a scrub nurse for repairing bad fractures, fixing the pieces of bone together (something I unfortunately know about first-hand, now having a cyber-ankle due to a bad fall. But I digress). These days they come more specialized, individually wrapped, already sterile and ready to use.
When my lab moved from floor A to floor B, we found all kinds of odds and ends (I'm in a surgery department). Odds and ends come in handy I've found, since I've had to build some of my own apparatus over the years, so I collect them just in case. The other day I came across this tube of rods and thought, Blocking Wires. With 3 lace shawls on the needles at the time, you can see how blocking might possibly be on my mind.

So these appear at a fortuitous time. I finished the pink Shetland Triangles lace shawl for my little niece the other night. It'll be a slightly late birthday present. Let's try these rods as blocking wires. (Soaks shawl, prepares foam blocks, pins, wires, and towel).
Verdict: Bit thin and bendy for a fingering-weight shawl but could be perfect for laceweight and lighter shawls. Fortunately, I also have a blocking wire kit, so out came that.
chana shawl pinned
chana shawl stretched out
chana shawl macro
Much better. These are stiff enough not to be distorted by the shawl so it can dry straight. Seriously, for knitting lace especially, blocking wires cannot be beat. When I blocked sister-in-law's shawl, I was too lazy to dig my set out of the very back of the closet. Lazy is relative, as it turns out, since the time spent pinning and repinning was more than the time I would have spent rummaging in the closet, zipping a wire along the back and another down the center. The steel wires I found should work for pinning out the points of Evenstar. Maybe not all the points, but enough of them to get the shape and dimensions right.
I've never knit a circular shawl before Evenstar, so naturally I've never blocked a circular shawl before. Now that the final clue is here, I need to plan blocking it being it will be 5 feet across when completed and DH, despite being a doll about most things, doesn't think our bed is a good place to block it. He's willing to help me block it on the floor, but my back has other ideas. We shall see when the time comes.
Happy Mother's Day to all.

1 comment:

fleegle said...

Lovely shawl! And I cherish the pipette whistle I unearthed in my lab years and years ago :)