Friday, September 5, 2008

Fun with blocking and a Trellis update

A few weeks ago I ordered a blocking kit from Knit Picks. I wanted to see what the fuss was about. They arrived in their nifty mailing tube and sat unopened and neglected for a few days until I had the time to block out the Trellis scarf. Trellis, if you remember, was not an inspiring sight fresh off the needles, all wrinkly, bunchy and scrunched up from being lugged around in my purse and whatnot, lace never is. I broke out my new blocking wires and got to work. What a difference between blocking with wires and using pins alone. Blocking wires can accomplish amazing things, transforming one's knitted lump into a piece of open, lacy goodness.

I'll admit that threading the wire along the long side of my scarf was not the most fun I've ever had, but the patience paid off. Using these wires means goodbye to puckered, uneven edges. No more scalloping! It's much easier to ensure that your item is a consistent width from top to bottom and allows you to adjust things as needed. So much better than the alternative of using a million dressmaker's pins. I am a convert. Trellis is now washed, blocked, wrapped and ready for gifting. I'm always a little anxious when knitting for someone else - I know what I like, what colours and patterns that I prefer, and therefore tend to second guess myself when knitting gift items. I'm reasonably confident that I've chosen well in matching up the pattern, colour, fibre and recipient.

After putting the finishing touches on Trellis, I returned to a project that I had begun for myself but had put aside. I bought a skein of the Fleece Artist's Suri Blue in the marine colourway. I love that yarn - slightly fuzzy, light, warm and beautiful. I chose to knit up a shoulderette version of Laminaria from Knitty. I was intrigued by the Estonian stitches and was looking for a challenge. It was an enjoyable knit - even if I did have to frog the whole first edging because I couldn't find my mistake. Unlike Trellis, where I found it easy to "read" what the stitches were doing because of the predictable geometry of the pattern, I found it much harder to do that with Laminaria due to the organic nature of the shapes and therefore harder to find my mistakes. After I got used to the pattern and could "read" the situation better, it was smooth sailing.

The pattern is well written and the charts are clear and error free. I did modify it slightly by taking the suggestion of a knitter on Ravelry and changing the k3togs in the second half of the Star chart to sssk for a more balanced pattern - a minor element, but one that I'm glad I did. I was completely underwhelmed when I cast off - so small! So uninspiring! So not what I was hoping for. Blocking saved the day (or is shawl?). Blocking was essential. It totally opened up and the designs that I had been trying to read were suddenly very apparent and beautiful. I am pretty happy with my version of Laminaria and I recommend the pattern to anyone who wants to learn a new thing or two and is looking for a more challenging lace project. I'm looking forward to wearing this one!
After all this lace, I'm looking for a bit of a breather before I plunge back in. Today I cast on for this after hearing that the Farmer's Almanac is predicting a really chilly winter. No holes, no double yarn overs and no k3tog, ssk combinations, it should go pretty quickly (or should I say that out loud? Did I just jinx myself?).
Happy knitting!


Steph said...

Oh wow. I love both of your finished lace projects. I queued Laminaria a little while ago and I may have to start it sooner rather than later!

I borrowed some blocking wires from a friend, but I think I'm going to have to get my own set - they make life so much easier!

Miss Knit said...

Thank you very much! Laminaria is a great knit and I think it was worth the effort :)

Go for the blocking wires - definitely go for them. I feel like I may ahve ot knit more lace just so I can use them more often!