Thursday, August 17, 2006

Blocking the Violets by the River Shawl

Praise the knitting spirits!!! I have finally completed my second (replacement) Violets by the River shawl. As with the previous (lost) shawl, I knit most of it in Barcelona Spain. This time, however, I also did a substantial amount of knitting in Paris and back here in the US ofA.
For those who fear blocking lace shawls, here is how I do it. Note that I do not have fancy items such as a blocking board, blocking wires, etc. I am of the school of knitting that says you must make do with what you have with you on the sofa or in your closet.

First, I gather my supplies. In my case, I use a Lauren sheet (on sale years ago) that is divided into regular squares. I vacuum the carpet and spread the sheet out on the floor to serve as a blocking board.

Second, I wash out the bathroom sink and then put the finished object in a sink full of cool water. I then go do the dishes, iron some clothes, begin another knitting project or make dinner. The idea is to let the item soak and relax a long while, at least 30 minutes --or until your leaking drain plug lets all the water out of the sink.

Third, I find an old, clean towel and plop the wet finished object in the middle--after gently squishing out some of the water against the edge of the sink basin. Do NOT wring out the item. Be gentle--it is still relaxing from its long soak.
Fourth, I roll the ends of the towel in and then dance on the "package" for a while. As you can see from the wet spots by my toes, the water from the finished object squishes out into the towel.
Fifth, I spread the finished object out on the sheet. "Oh rats," I exclaim, I made the thing too narrow and too long."

"Not to worry," my inside experienced knitter reassures me, "you can stretch the %$#*&* out of it."
Sixth, I try to stretch the **&%#$ out of the thing, without overextending the item. Be gentle. Make sure the center of the entire shawl is on a straight line. Take a deep breath. It will all work out just fine.
Seven, I begin to stretch out the top of the shawl, to each side of the center line, making sure that the top stays on a straight line. Below you cans ee how I have opened up the cute honey bees on the top edge, the official insect of the State of Wisconsin!! The Violets by the River shawl represents the state of Wisconsin.

Eight, I begin to work on the sides. "Double Rats!!! Bigger Rats!!! Mother-eating Rats!! I did it again!!! When will I learn??!! I bound off the edges too tightly. While I thought I was being ever so loose and light on the needle and tension when I bound off, the bind off was TOOOO TIGHT.

I can't do it. I can't rip out the bound off edge to use the quick and easy bind off that I developed for the shapely shawlette border when the same thing happened with that shawl. (Note to self: whenever you use a yarn that is NOT 100% wool, use my new and improved extra stitch shapely shawlette border bindoff. I used Blackberry Ridge's silky merino, an absolutely gorgeous lace weight 50% merino 50% silk for this shawl. It is spectcular yarn, but it doesn't stretch like 100% wool.)
In the case of the Violets by the River shawl, it would be very difficult to rip the bind off edge because one goes from the bind off along the sides immediately to the cute but futsy honey bees along the top. Therefore, I would have to frog the bees and the side edge. I couldn't do it. This is my second VBR shawl because I went and LOST the first one. How careless can a knitter get?? So at this point, I engage in denial, bring out the spray bottle and give that **&^&%$ edge a good soaking. I stretch that baby as much as I dare, easing everything into place gently.

Oh my, can you see those rivers along the edge? The Wisconsin, the Fox and the Mississippi?? Can you see the little wood violets in the center--the state wild flower?? I did it! It worked!! And, the edge doesn't cut or bind when I'm wearing it!!! Yahoo!!!!
Next post, I'll show a photo of me wearing the thing. I plan to attach a chain to my wrist so that I can't lose this one!

And, for a little peace of mind after that stressful stretching and blocking, here is a lovely lotus flower from the botanical garden in town.


Maddie said...

That is one beautiful shawl mom! You sure did have the patience and perseverance that not many people have (at least not me) to get through a shawl that you had already made with lots of love a year before. Congratulations on another amazing project!

betty said...

it is beautiful. i should stop watching the photos... because I think now I NEED to knit one! ;)

Lorette said...

Beautiful! I like your extra-stitch bind off method. I'll have to remember that one. I have used a sewn bind off in the past when I needed a stretchy edge, but it's nice to have more than one way to do things.