Monday, February 10, 2014

Why I don't block

One of the key components in most knitting patterns comes right at the end, where the pattern writer tells you to bind off your knitting and "block."  I have never blocked.  It's simply not my thing.  Everything I've ever read about it told me I needed to soak my knit item (shudder - what if the colors run & it's a gift on deadline?) then pin it flat and allow it to dry.  I have successfully avoided that for the nearly 20 years I have been knitting.

Until now.  I finished a scarf this week for my cousin's husband A, he of the pestering-knitters-on-the-commuter-railroad story from November.  I saw him just after Thanksgiving, and he was wearing his hat.  The family tells me he wears the hat a lot - to work, indoors, on weekends - and he proudly showed me a black scarf he was wearing that, ".....almost matches this fantastic hat!"  Because I cannot keep my mouth shut, ever, I blurted out that the hat had a matching scarf pattern, and was he interested?  Say, after Christmas?  Of course he was!

I forgot how much I hate knitting scarves, but I persevered.  75" at 31 stitches per row doesn't sound like much until, well, you spend 2 weeks, 2 hours a day, knitting it.  This scarf is a physical manifestation of proof that you do not have to be a blood relation for me to love you.  Quite honestly, the fawning over the hat pretty much cemented his ability to get whatever knit item he wants, now or in the future.  Except maybe a sweater.

Anyway, finished the scarf and it curls up on both edges, pretty significantly.  So I knew my day of reckoning had come - I was going to have to block a piece.  I was not looking forward to it, but at least remotely confident because after all, this is a completely black item so if the color ran, it would not ruin the garment. 

First step, into the sink:

I soaked it in Eucalid (per the instructions) for 15 minutes, then squeezed all the water out of it.  No color seepage, so that was good.

Then, the hard part - laying it flat to dry and pinning it.  Which makes my dining room floor look like this:

The good news is, if I was a little short on that recommended 75", I have it now.  But blocking doesn't really show the pattern all that well, as you can see here:

It looks like the hat, though, so that's all that counts. 

You might notice to the left of the scarf a very small knit strip - this is a piece that goes on A's wife's hat, that also curled once knit, so I decided to block that as well.  You can see a little better how I pinned the pieces on that one:

So that's a close-up photo of what I did to that 75" scarf to block it.  Every few inches. It was tedious.  My instincts to avoid blocking were totally correct.  But now that I've done it, I have no excuse not to do it in the future.

Speaking of that little piece for M's hat, this is what the finished product looks like:

On my head, of course, not hers.  The pattern is called Capitan by Rosi Garmendia and my friend Dorothy says this is a hat that makes everyone look cool.  Guess what?  Not me.  I was so excited to knit myself one after this and then I put it on to check the button placement and discovered I look like an idiot in this hat.  Which is a total bummer because I can use all the help I can get to look cooler.  I still think I'll make a couple more - one for M's sister J, and my college best friend.  All women who can rock hats, apparently better than me.