Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Blocking Lace, my way.

psst: I've done a little update in my One of a Kind Etsy shop, check it out!

My mom recently knit her own Fairview Scarf in TFA Red Label in the Garnet colourway. It turned out beautifully! I occasionally get asked about my blocking method, and though I don't think that I do anything particularly groundbreaking, I decided to take this opportunity to document exactly how I do it.

Mom's Fairview Shawl in Red Label Garnet

First, I take my finished, lumpy, bumpy lace and soak it in a bowl of cool water with a little bit of Soak wool wash. It adds a nice sent and ensures that your finished knit will be nice and clean. I sometimes do this step in the sink, or even in the bathtub if I'm blocking something massive.

Blocking Fairview Scarf - set up

I let it soak for at least 20 minutes.

Blocking Fairview Scarf - soak

Then I gently squeeze out (not ring out, you've got to be gentle) as much excess water as possible (I often enlist Chris' help for this step) and then place it on a clean dark towel, role it up and squeeze out bit more water. At this point the scarf is still damp, but not soaking wet. I then lay my clean towel on the floor in my office and start threading my blocking wires. Blocking wires are key for any lace that needs a nice straight edge. Mine are from knitpicks and I couldn't live without them.

Blocking Fairview Scarf - thread blocking wires

When threading the wires along the side of the lace, it doesn't really matter how you thread them, as long as you thread it exactly the same way all along the edge. Notice in the photo below how I've picked up every single loop from front to back, exactly the same way, all along the edge. This is the "hardest" part of blocking, it takes a little bit of patience, but it's so worth it! You can see a beautiful example of what this technique does to garter stitch here.

Blocking Fairview Scarf - blocking wires, picked up all the same way makes a pretty edge.

When both sides are threaded I start pinning the scarf down. I pin directly into my office carpet, but a mattress, couch cushions, a blocking board all work equally well. I pin out one side first, and then I pull the second side very tight and start pinning it. There is a lot of pinning and then re-pinning in this step to get the scarf as straight and open as possible. This is what I mean when I say that I block lace "aggressively", that I pin it as open as I can, without compromising the fiber of course. The yarn will let you know how much it can be stretched.

Blocking Fairview Scarf - stretch it out!

Lastly, I pin out the end points and then walk away and wait for it to dry completely. I usually block in the afternoon/evening and let it dry overnight.

Blocking Fairview Scarf - pin out the points

When it's dry I remove the pins, then the blocking wires slide out easily leaving you with a perfect, crisp lacy scarf! It's always kind of a magical moment, there's really nothing like it.

Mom's Fairview Shawl in Red Label Garnet

13 comments:

  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous scarf! Such an intricate pattern. And I think that particular colourway just went on my wishlist... :)

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  2. Beautiful scarf Tanis, and thanks for the tips! I should get myself a set of blocking wires, a million pins really don't cut it.

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  3. Thank you so much for your tutorial. I blocked a shawl about a month ago and had no idea how to use my wires. It came out well, but I would have liked to have been more prepared for the blocking process.

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  4. Beautiful! The pattern looks even more amazing in this colour. I have an event coming up and now I know what I am going to knit!

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  5. I'm really new to blocking and don't really understand what items you're supposed to do it to. Can you post a "before blocking" photo so we can see the difference it makes?

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  6. Now I exaclty know what the blocking is:)
    Thank You:)

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  7. I use our children`s old crib mattress as a blocking board. It is actually a very thick piece of foam. I made a slip cover for it out of 1/2 " gingham fabric and it has worked well for me for many years.

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  8. Soak for 20 minutes & blocking wires. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise!

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  9. Thanks so much for sharing that. That is absolutely beautiful.. I'm sure it's such a rewarding feeling when it's all knitted, blocked, and done! =)

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  10. Thank you for the tips on blocking! I have a beautiful shawl that I just finished, and I had no idea where to start. Your scarf is absolutely beautiful - what a wonderful pattern and color!

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  11. Thanks Tanis! I love this method and will give it a try.

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  12. Wow, you do such a lovely job with the edges. I love how aggressively you block your lace... it's so much more... lacy.

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  13. Thanks Tanis for the blocking instructions. I'm going to re-block my fairview scarf. Now off to get some blocking wires.

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