Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blocking a Beauty

A week ago I finished the first layer of the Belinda shawl I've been working on. There's a second layer that's going to be picked up along one long edge and knit perpendicular to the first layer. But I decided to not start it because I want to wear this layer next weekend.
Last time you saw Belinda, you only saw a few inches of a swatch sample. On the swatch I kept the colours lined up by adjusting tension, but that was getting me into trouble. For the actual shawl, I used a variety of methods.

At first I adjusted the number of selvage stitches, adding and decreasing stitches at will to use up the yarn as needed. (If my yellow yarn came sooner than the yellow stitches, I would decrease a stitch; if the stitches came before the right colour yarn, I might add a stitch or two.)

Later in the shawl I just adjusted my YOs. The pattern calls for double yarn-overs, but I would throw in a few singles or triples over the row as needed. I figured it would all block out (and I turned out to be right).

In preparation for blocking, I allowed myself to purchase a set of blocking wires and pins.
They allow you to block larger projects with very few pins. The work comes in threading the rigid wires through the edges of your piece. But once that's done, it's all easy as pie.

While blocking:
Since this was a rectangular shawl, I figured I could eyeball the width to get it right. After it was pinned into place, I decided just to double check that. (The blocking wire set probably included the ruler for a reason...) One end was 20.5", the middle was 19" and the other end was 20". Not too bad, but I decided I would adjust a few pins and make it all 20".

The pins and wires worked very well. There was no way I was going to use a million pins to get those edges straight and even. It would have taken hours.

Now that you've seen a couple pictures of the "organized" colours, shall I remind you how this yarn started:
Here the colours are well ordered and organized. (You can see the little bits of green that crowd into the yellow and the pink going into the white which later manifest in the shawl.)

Once the yarn was wound up, all organization is lost:
This is what would have happened to the knitted piece if no care were taken in how to knit it up. The colours are still very pretty, but I don't think they would have done much for each other or had a chance to shine. (Let me say again, very prettily coloured clown barf.)

But with careful choice of the number of stitches and some adjustments on the way, everything is in its place, and I think the colours all complement each other beautifully:
I'll try get some "finished object" pictures this weekend and share them with you next week.

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