Today, for the first time, I made myself haul the pre-Rhinebeck to-do list out of my head and shove it onto paper. I have to tell you it is not a pretty sight. We’re moving along at a good clip, and for all I know we may even be kind of on schedule - but still, from here it looks an awful lot like squeezing 10 gallons of accomplishment into a one-pint window of opportunity.
Therefore it is that I make no excuses whatsoever for doing the Comment Cheat. That is - there were some good questions in yesterday’s comments, and as I answered them via e-mail it struck me that the replies might make interesting (and non-labor-intensive…) post fodder.
Herewith, therefore, yesterday’s Shawl Blocking Q&A.
I’d love to hear more about your washing and blocking process. Is the white stuff under the shawl in the sink fabric to help lift it out of the water gently? Is the pale blue yarn used for a preliminary tugging into shape? What is your blocking surface? And why did you add big yellow beads to the tips? (Just kidding!)
Yes, the cloth underneath is for lifting it out and doing the first squeezing out without putting strain on the yarn. I would use a net bag, but couldn’t put my hand on one in a hurry, and the muslin I use as a ground for blocking small swatches was in the right place at the right time. The pale blue yarn is Caron’s Simply Soft, which I use for knitting illustrations and which is pretty damn strong - couldn’t find my ball of Strong Nylon String which I was going to use like blocking wires a la Early Harlot, so I used the yarn instead. Next time I block a big piece I’m damn well springing for wires! The yarn worked as well as string, but string isn’t good enough for this.
Surface: I actually bought a lot of those interlocking floor tiles a while ago, but at the moment I don’t have a big enough piece of cat-proof floor-space available. So instead I just used the same guest bed where I’ve been doing the dry-pinning. I have a big heavy white canvas shower curtain thingie (cost me a whole quarter at a yard sale! and the moment I saw it I knew what I’d be using it for), so I laid that out first and just pinned over it. Someday I’m going to mark a grid on it.
Soaked the whole piece for about 15-20 minutes in very warm water (didn’t bother with the hot bath after all, because the black yarn felt fine to me once it was knitted up), with a small drop of shampoo and a small handful of conditioner. (Hair’s hair, after all. Mind you, I still wouldn’t do this with just any old shampoo, but I use Mane & Tail, which is pretty simple stuff, actually intended for both animals and humans - and I find it makes a really nice wool wash. Cheap, too. And not stinky.)
Rinsed slightly. Gathered it up in its protective cloth and squeezed. Wrapped in a big towel and squeezed some more. Laid it out on the surface, pinned out the strings, adjusted, adjusted some more, and then got down to details.
If I’d had wires I’d have gotten a more even line at the bottom and more of a convex curve. As it is, I mostly just blocked for dimensions. The bottom shaping isn’t critical, so I didn’t get obsessive about pinning it - the drape should make that a moot point.
What - you didn’t LIKE the yellow beads? And here I thought they added such a… special… touch….
Am I correct that you ran your blocking lines (the pale bluish [at least on my monitor] yarn) before you started the soaking/wetting process? Makes a whole lot of sense!
Yup - beats wrassling it through with all that damp lace. Never understood why more people don’t do it that way - I have a note about it in the pattern. ‘Course, you can’t do that with wires, which I must say I do wish I’d had for this. Couldn’t find my ball of Strong String, either, so used Caron Simply Soft which made a fine substitute. But wires would have been way better.
Lynne also said:
You are enjoying dragging this out and teasing us, aren’t you? Tcha…
Possibly not quite as much as you might think - the suspense is kinda killing me too, you know. But I’m so crazed, and doing so many things at once, I really can’t spend the concentrated time on this that I’d like to. (In fact, what with scrambling to do taxes and what-not, I didn’t get to experiment with draping tonight after all - but did get half of the remaining edging done. What is WRONG with the IRS, anyway - don’t they know about Rhinebeck? What were they THINKING, scheduling a tax deadline the same week?) OTOH, might as well make a virtue of necessity and get some mileage out of the fact that it has to happen in instalments.
As for the Mystery Object, my mind is stuck on un-plying tools, and I can’t get past it.
(… and a number of other people had some very interesting and creative thoughts on that subject too….)
Yeah, well, there’s a reason I said what I did about torturing yourselves. The Mystery Object is so completely arcane and far-fetched that I would be astonished if anyone actually figured it out. It’s a special-purpose implement for facilitating the modification of one small component of a device that I haven’t mentioned at all yet. I have no excuse whatsoever for putting up such a total red herring on the blog, except that it’s, well, kinda funny-looking, and I like being silly now and then. All will be revealed in due course.
And now, having both begun and ended with disclaimers on the subject, I will cease to pretend to refrain from making excuses and will get the hell back to work.
P.S. - the final batch of yarns for Vintage just arrived; the palette is now complete - and gorgeous. If I can possibly manage it I’ll show you the whole deal tomorrow.