Monday, October 10, 2011

Knit Along: Angora Lace Scarf from Lion Brand Studio - Day 5

What comes after the bind off?
Some patterns you can slip the project right on and go.  Heaven knows I’ve done my share of finishing a piece hours (okay, sometimes even minutes) before I planned to wear it.  Not so with lacework.  It’s okay when it’s done, but it’s never really a work of art until you’ve blocked it.

Can’t you just press it with an iron?
Almost never.  Blocking requires soaking--or as the famous opinionated knitter Elizabeth Zimmermann calls it “giving it a bath.”  I love the tender touch that term implies.  And it’s the perfect visual for the task.  I let my babies soak for about ten minutes (as long as it takes me to set up the blocking board I use on my dining room table) in Dawn Blue dishwashing liquid and tepid water.  After a careful rinse in similar temperature water, I pin them to the board.  A striped beach towel is especially useful for pieces involving straight lines like this scarf, because you’ve got your guidelines ready to go.

What does blocking accomplish?
In even simple lacework like this scarf, blocking opens up the stitches, helps things lay flat, and gives the work an even feel.  I think blocking makes any knitted piece feel “airier,” if I can manufacture a word.  Scientifically, it allows the fibers to relax and line up nicely next to each other.  After all, everyone--from small children to dogs to romance author knitters--behaves more nicely after a bath.
Give it a day or so to dry, and I’ll come back to show you the final product.


Camy Tang said...

I never thought of using a striped towel. That's a great idea!

Terri J. Haynes said...

This is a lovely scarf. And periwinkle is definitely a great color. And I'm with Camy on the blocking on a striped towel. I'll have to find to add to my blocking supplies.

But I do have a question. Why Dawn and not a wool wash? Does Dawn work just as well?

Allie Pleiter said...

You know, Terri, I don't remember where I learned to use Dawn. I learned it somewhere and I like the smell it gives the wool (or, I suppose, the smell it takes out of the wool). Dawn comes in cool new fragrances, but I've not yet tried anything but the basic blue. I suspect the main thinking is that Dawn works just as well as any fancy wool wash if used sparingly.