Blocking your lace is the pat on the back, your reward for all your knitting efforts. Your finished work is given a beautiful drape, the patterns are opened up to look more delicate and intricate, funny bits of tension are evened out and pulled into line. All in all, it’s one of the things I look forward to most when working on lace knitting.
This Out of Darkness shawl was one big glorious beast, with around 2,000 stitches in the bind-off alone after I enlarged the pattern.
Fresh of the needles it looked like this:
Not particularly inspiring – not much sign of the patterns, curling edges.
This was pure Tussah silk (Dye forYarn in Chocolate Cosmos Ceasing To Be), so I soaked it for a couple of hours with a very mild no-rinse detergent (I use Soak, but there are all sorts of suitable detergents out there). You could just use lukewarm water, but I like to use a bit of detergent after all the handling during knitting and not having to rinse it speeds the process up and saves you having to mess around with wet delicate yarn too much. Silk takes a bit longer for the water to fully penetrate; you could probably just soak wool for about 30mins.
After squeezing out excess water and rolling it in a towel, I pinned it out on some foam playmats. Whenever I can, I block outside in the garden as the finished piece dries so much quicker – invaluable with small children around.
Then, through the magic of blocking it turned into this:
The brown shapeless caterpillar became a darkly beautiful butterfly. The shawl went from being just over 2m wide to almost 2.5m, so it is rather huge, but I love it.
You can block silk fairly aggressively and it will hold the block and often grow quite dramatically in size. Wools in general tend to spring back to varying degrees after blocking, depending on the type or blend. Other fibres such as cashmere and alpaca are more delicate and you need to be a bit more gentle with them. Taking your time with blocking allows you to feel how far your yarn wants to stretch – and gives you time to admire your handiwork!
Lots of Morticia knitting going on at the moment, plus a number of other works-in-progress, so I’m hoping to get some more dyeing done soon…