When I planned this post it was going to be a blocking lace tutorial, very how-to, very factual, and hopefully very helpful. I get asked blocking questions all the time. So I know I need to write a post like that.
This is not that post.
When I looked through the pictures I had taken, I realized I have a documentary on how I manage to get lace blocked while living with two Very Bad Cats… and some blocking tips to toss in.
That’s ok. I’ve noticed that ya’ll like Very Bad Cats. That post on why I needed a crochet seat cover earned me more comments than any other post I’ve made (WordPress helpfully told me this) and all of those comments were about how I’m using canned mackerel to cure hairballs. “All that work”, I tell people, “all that knitting and crocheting, and spinning, and they like the cats best.” Well, there are plenty of Very Bad Cats in this post. Enjoy!
I had two pieces of lace to block out this week, one that I made and one that I didn’t. Let’s start with mine. You might recognize it. Its the green lace that was supposed to have been done in time for St. Patrick’s Day.
In the great Peace Accord of 2011, the Feline Overlord and I agreed that she, and her sidekick Coward Boy Cat (should he be awake at the time), would be granted the opportunity to inspect all work prior to it being washed and blocked. After washing and blocking its off-limits to Very Bad Cats. I religiously hold up my end of the peace treaty and giver her pre-block play time. She religiously tries to cheat and play with it after its been blocked. But I would expect no less from her.
Now that she has made her inspection, its time to wash the lace. I use Eucalan, unscented. I’ve gotten good results with Soak. There are lots a quality wool wash soaps out there. If you don’t have any on hand, use a very old-fashioned plain-jane dish soap, like unscented Dawn. You won’t need much of it.
Then in goes the lace. Now… I’ve read lots of blocking instructions and most of them will tell you to let your knitting/crochet sit and soak for a certain length of time. The amount of time is not what’s important. You want it to sit and soak until it has sunk to the bottom of the sink, until it is fully saturated with water. I press it down in to the water…
… and walk away. I take it out when there are no more air bubbles coming up.
While its soaking I get my blocking surface ready. You’ll probably be disappointed because I don’t use anything fancy at all! I have that old wooden porch and its my surface. Its great. I can stick as many pins in it as I like, its huge, much bigger than any blocking board or squares I could buy, and I don’t have to pack it up and store it afterwards. I just need to lay out an old blanket.
You’ll never guess who that is under my blanket. Oh. You did guess. I’m shocked.
So the next step is to chase her out from under there.
All the way out.
Then I go back to my wet lace. Its sopping at this point so I gently press the excess water out (no wringing, no twisting) and then pin it down on the old blanket.
How I pin out depends on the shape of the piece I’m pinning. This is a rectangle so my priorities (in order) as I pinned were:
- line up the two long sides and keep them parallel,
- evenly distribute the knitting between those two sides and make sure it all lays flat,
- emphasize the scallops on the cast on/bind off edges.
(Is all that other stuff in the picture distracting you? Okay. I brew sun tea in old jars on my porch pretty much every day from spring to fall. I’m using those tea jars to help hold the blanket down. I’m also using stones… some of which I’ve made pretty little sweaters for. And that yellow and green thingy in the bottom right is a washcloth I blocked at the same time. The pattern for that will be posted some time this week.)
Then I let it dry. In the Texas sun that takes about
2 minutes an hour. The blocking makes lace bigger and it opens up the stitches so you can see the pattern.
On to the crochet lace! I blocked that next. One of my students was given a gorgeous table cloth by her 92 year old mother. It was made without a pattern. It didn’t quite lay flat. My student when asked by her mother how it looked, lied and said that it was perfect. Of course she lied. I would have! So my job was to block it and make the bugger flat.
Here is what happened when it first came out of its bag:
Here is what happened when I laid it out for its pre-blocking picture:
Then washing, and pinning. This is a giant circle so I started at the center and worked my way to the edges.
Midway through I switched to colored push pins so you could see them and see where I had pinned.
Flattened. Its not a perfect circle, but with this piece I had to make the choice: lay flat or be a circle. I went with flat because that was the issue in the first place. And her her mom will never know that its not a perfect circle or that Very Bad Cats have walked on it.
Admit it. ADMIT IT! You skipped all the writing and blocking tips and just looked at the kitty pictures, didn’t you?
That’s okay. For the record I didn’t stage any of the Very Bad Cat-ness. I don’t have to. I just have to keep my camera ready to go.