Getting Schooled on Blocking Lace

In every knitter’s repertoire, there is a technique that could use a little refresher. Whether its an uncommon cast-on or a special finishing trick, we could all benefit from a little how-to every now and then. So when Lindsay approached us in need of advice about blocking her recently finished project, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to share a brand new tutorial with all of you! Today’s topic: how to block a lace triangular shawl using blocking wires.

The project in question is Lindsay’s beautiful Draper shawl, knit with a single skein of luxe Madelinetosh Pashmina in Nebula (she made the small size and says she had at least a quarter of a skein left. Amazing!). But pre-blocked lace, even when crafted by an expert knitter with a delicious yarn, just doesn’t quite live up to its full potential. Here’s where the delightfully alchemical blocking process comes to the rescue! Blocking transforms lumpy lace into an impeccably uniform fabric, taking your handknits to new levels of loveliness. If you’ve never blocked before, you’ll be amazed at the results. Plus, it’s a fairly simple process, especially with the help of blocking wires designed to make the whole procedure as foolproof as possible. Grab your project, a set of blocking wires, and some T-pins, and let’s get started!
Instructions (each step has a corresponding picture):
  1. Soak the piece in cool water with a little wool wash (we love Soak) for about fifteen minutes to let the fibers relax. Next, carefully remove the piece, gently squeezing out any excess water. Lay it out flat on a towel, roll it up, and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. Finally, lay the piece flat on a dry towel-covered blocking board (we use foam core, available at most stores that carry art or school supplies).
  2. Begin threading a blocking wire through the edge of the piece, inserting it down and then up through the fabric.
  3. If there are any points or scallops along the edge (like in Draper), you’ll want to be sure your wire travels through these points to accentuate the decorative edging.
  4. Continue threading the wire through the fabric at even intervals all the way along one side of the triangle.
  5. When you reach the end of the first side, thread the blocking wire through the tip of the corner to emphasize the angle.
  6. Here’s what the first side should look like: nice and smooth, with the wire traveling in and out through the fabric at evenly spaced intervals.
  7. Grab a new blocking wire and just as before, begin threading it through the adjacent side of the triangle.
  8. Continue threading and finish as before with the wire ending at the very tip of the angle where the side meets the straight top edge.
  9. Thread a third wire through the top edge of the shawl. Since it is a straight edge and there are no decorative points that need to be emphasized, the intervals at which you space the wire are not as crucial, but try to keep them nice and regular nonetheless.
  10. Depending on the size of your shawl and the length of your blocking wires, you may need more than one to span the length of the piece. If so, overlap the ends of the wires where they meet for a couple inches to provide support and stability for the edge.
  11. Check the piece once more, making sure it is flat, smooth and ready to pin.
  12. Begin pinning at the top edge, starting in the middle.
  13. Insert a pin every two inches or so, on the inside of the wire. Stretch the piece out slightly as you go, making sure it stays smooth and flat.
  14. Note: properly blocked lace tends to stretch more than you think it will! Sandy Kay had to improvise some additional blocking board, so it might be a good idea to allow yourself more room then you think you will need.
  15. Place a pin at the center of each protrusion and in each corner to keep the angles nice and sharp.
  16. Here’s what the pinned shawl should look like.
  17. If you’d like, you can add some extra pins along the top lace tier to strengthen the scalloped appearance. Just place them at the peaks of the openwork sections, as shown here.
Let the piece dry thoroughly (usually overnight, but sometimes it takes up to a full day or two), and voila! Smooth, stunning lace you’ll be proud to show off. You can use the same basic blocking techniques for all your projects: shawls, scarves, sweaters… basically, everything benefits from a little blocking. Watch your projects blossom from homemade into handmade, and enjoy!
Special thanks to Lindsay for letting us borrow her project, and Sandy for demonstrating the technique!

The post Getting Schooled on Blocking Lace appeared first on Knit Purl Blog.

April 11, 2011 by Alexa
previous / next

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.