Sunday, January 15, 2012

Grannies, and a little about blocking

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The grannies continue to pile up.  There are 260 of them now, and I have begun to think in earnest about the joining round color.   I think there might be too many possibilities, actually.  I’m still considering white, cream, the very palest shell pink, and now navy blue (check out some inspiration here and here) and this morning as I sat in my mustard gold chair knitting away, I thought that might be nice, too—gold.  A little ironic, a little 1970’s, a little nod to nostalgia, but maybe fresh, too, if it’s the right shade and I pair it well with other border colors.  Hide the avocado green, just in case.   I’m having so much fun thinking about it, I have to admit.  I lie awake at night considering the different options.  I think that might be a little weird, but maybe it isn’t. 

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I’ve had a few questions about blocking.  In a nutshell, blocking is the difference between this:

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and this:

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Much nicer!  To achieve this, all I do is soak them a few at a time in a sink of tepid water--tepid!  Not hot, or you’ll felt them, and your screams will resonate throughout the land.  Then gently squeeze out the water and roll them up in an old bath towel to remove as much moisture as possible.  Then just lay them out flat, nudge them into shape, and let them dry.   That’s it.  This is how I block sweaters, too, just a little water and a long, flat rest on the rug in front of the fire.  The dog, happily, knows to lie down somewhere else, which is really a tribute to how smart she is, bless her. 

To be filed under More Than You Wanted To Know, there is also steam blocking, which I use mostly for scarves and in garment pre-seaming.  To do this, simply heat up your steam iron, lay the scarf on the ironing board, and then blast it with the steam.  You don’t make contact with the fabric, you just let the steam whoosh out onto it.  It’s pretty easy to burn yourself doing this—that steam gets very hot—so watch your fingers.  The fibers just relax, go limp, and lie flat and supple and compliant.   Mmmm, nice.  

There’s also pin-blocking, which I only use for lace.  I will say this:  you can get away with shirking your blocking duties when making sweaters, socks, scarves, blankets, mittens, and almost anything else, but you absolutely must block your lace.  The before and after is incredibly significant.  Before=ramen noodles.  After=gossamer heirloom worthy of your children’s children.  After I blocked my first lace shawl, my daughter looked at it and said, “This is that blue thing you’ve been working on?  Really???” 

To pin-block, soak the finished object the same way as before, roll it in a towel to remove moisture, and then you stretch the heck out of it, pulling it as taut as it will go, and pin it along the edges.  You want it as tight as a drum, with pins at every point.  This is a little bit nerve-wracking the first time, because everything you know about lace is that it is fine and delicate and that care must be taken with it, and you happen to know you just spent forty-trillion years knitting this huge spiderweb out of what seems like thread—what’s with all the yanking????  Isn’t it going to tear?  Yikes!!!   I don’t want to give you a false sense of security, so I won’t say it can’t happen, but I have never damaged a finely knit laceweight object by blocking it, and I block it tightly enough to bounce quarters. 

Aaaaand, back to the grannies:

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I’m hopeless at restraint.  I am making these squares ten or twenty or thirty at a time, now.  I’ve also abandoned the “no color scheme” thing.  Who am I kidding?  There’s a little bit of a scheme now (which is apparently a little bit reminiscent of the patchwork curtain there, as it happens, hmmm…) and yesterday I took all the warm reds and soggy lawn-colored greens out of the basket.  This thing has a mind of its own.  I’m making my peace with it.

I want to thank the lovely Laura for the sweet award.  Go over there right now and see what she’s making—there’s a crochet block I might have to start right now.  Beautiful! 

I’ve been very lazy about passing these awards along, I’m sorry about that.  I do appreciate them, very much.  It’s mostly that I don’t know how to do the fancy html code thing for the award button.  Excuses.  Anyway, apologies since there’s no button here for you, but I pass my awards on to the very wonderful Lynne at Pieceful, who’s beautiful blog is full of quilts, wee scrappy projects (is there anything I love more?) and lots of witty writing.  It’s one of my favorite daily reads.  Go see!