Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blockers: I need your opinions

This is the opening to the book in progress. Knitters, especially lace knitters, I ask you this: does my experience with blocking ring true to you? Personally, the thought of blocking and/or ever sewing another sleeve into a sweater makes me break out in a cold sweat.

But I digress. Here's the snippet:

Sugar Maple, Vermont

At the moment when it all began I was down on my knees, muttering ancient curses under my breath as I tugged, pulled, and tried to convince five and a half feet of knitted lace that it would be much happier stretched out to six plus.

If there were any magic spells out there to help a girl block a shawl, I hadn't found them and believe me, I'd looked. Blocking, like life, seemed to be equal parts intuition, brute strength, and dumb luck.

(Just in case you were wondering, I usually don't mention the dumb luck part when I give a workshop.)

TIA for your help!


Blogger R a i n said...

Ooo love it already! Especially the ancient curses =)

And yep, I think the fear is a universal thing when it comes to blocking and sewing stuff together. Yikes!

1:50 AM  
Blogger Nephele said...

It seems about right. One of the things that always bugs me is just how long it takes to get things right. With the skinny lace yarn, I always think it's going to dry out before I get the last pin in place.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Fran Baker said...

I feel the frustration, Barbara. Definitely. But I do think nephele makes a good point re worrying that it's going to dry out before you're finished.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

I think it depends--Most of my blocking has been on lace shawls or scarves, so a particular size wasn't needed. I also use blocking wires, so once you thread those through, it's not a big deal to stretch the bejeebers out of it. And on the edges where you want points, you stick the pin where you want the point, tug, and pin. I've never blocked and sewn stuff together. I admit it--I've never made a sweater. But I've only been knitting for 3 years. But I do *highly* reccomend blocking wires for lace because you get the straight edges straight with little work.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

I love this passage - it captures the frustration I often experience while blocking. I particularly love the idea of wishing for a magic spell to help and acknowledging that "dumb luck" plays a part in success.

On the other hand, for me, blocking lace is one of the most magical moments of knitting. I look forward to it and think of it as the big reward for dealing with the fiddly little yarn.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Thanks so much for all of the comments. I guess I was writing from (limited) experience: lace ties me up in knots. And no I'm not trying to be funny: my stomach literally turns in on itself the second I approach anything to do with lace. I've only blocked small lace items and the anxiety level was so intense I broke into a sweat! I was convinced those delicate strands would snap in two all over the place like a piano gone crazy. And, Donna, you're so right: the magic quotient is through the roof with knitted lace. (Kind of like felting--I feel like an alchemist every time.) My problem (or one of 'em) is a basic lack of faith that I can see it through w/o disaster. I don't trust in my own abilities, either in knitting or writing.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

I love the opening! Like Rain, I particularly enjoyed the "ancient curses", something I often mutter when dealing with a tough knitting problem. Wish I could look for spells to solve things!

I've never blocked lace so I can't speak to the accuracy of that experience. However, blocking Darth Sweater definitely gave me anxiety attacks, not to mention the fact that it took over an entire room like a spreading black ooze.

9:53 PM  

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