Friday, August 01, 2008

To Block Or Not To Block?

I'm in a dilemma. I love knitting lace, but so far it's mostly been confined to small bits of lace on socks or sweater hems or something similar. Like this:

Those are my recently completed Girl's Best Friend Anklets.

I also completed a lovely Seashell Shawl in January. I did block it, as you can see, and it came out wonderfully. But a bit smaller than I expected, so I decided to make it again with larger needles. Same yarn, Bristol Yarn Gallery's Buckingham yarn, which is SO soft…80% baby alpaca, 20% silk. I love that yarn!

The second shawl came out even better as it came out larger. Here's a photo where you can check it out, unblocked:

Forgive my photography, I don't have great skills, nor do I have a great camera.

Anyway, back to the dilemma. I love this shawl just the way it is, unblocked, fluffy, soft, yummy. But I also like the earlier blocked version, more like a spider's web and definitely showing the lace work to perfection. My question: have any of you chosen NOT to block a large finished lace item? If so, why, and how did it turn out? Would you do it again?

Or are you a dyed-in-the-wool (hah!) blocker? If so, why? I want to hear all opinions!



Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Liz, your shawl is magnificent even unblocked but I have to admit (and I'm blocking-phobic) that it would be even more spectacular blocked. HOWEVER, if it's for you why not leave it the way it makes you happiest? Besides, you can always knit another!

2:27 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

So far, I've only knit one large lace object (an Icarus shawl) and I blocked it. I love the way blocked lace looks so much that I imagine I will be blocking all my lace pieces. However, I can see why you might prefer it as-is. I suppose, should you block it and then change your mind, you can always get it damp and then air dry it without blocking it. That might make it go back to its pre-blocked look. (Never tried that before, though.)

3:18 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Delisi said...

Thanks, Barbara. I do love the pattern enough that even after having knit two, I'd be happy to knit three. Or more.

Nicole, good suggestion! Does anyone know if getting a blocked shawl wet and letting it dry unblocked to a pre-blocking state?

4:59 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Delisi said...

Obviously some words missing. Should read: Does anyone know if getting a blocked shawl wet and letting it dry unblocked *will cause it to revert* to a pre-blocking state?


5:04 PM  
Blogger kozmic said...

Liz, I'm a Kiwi and we traditionally have knitted English style. Blocking seems to be more of an American thing than what we used to do. I've only ever blocked thre knitted items ( a shawl and 2 scarves) mainly because the pattern said to.I have never blocked socks hats, gloves, sweaters , etc.
Personally I find washing lace and leaving it to dry flat gives me the result I prefer. I don't like the 'dead' , flat , perfect look. I like the look of alive knitting (w onky stitches and all).

10:09 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Delisi said...

Thanks, interesting, to think that blocking is an American thing. I never considered that before. But you've expressed what I was thinking, that the blocked items are flat and perfect but less warm and cozy-looking, somehow.

10:02 AM  
Blogger kshotz said...

Hi Elizabeth!

I blocked the one lace shawl I've made and I like the look. I have knit dozens of pairs of socks(including the Girl's Best Friend anklets you pictured!) and have never blocked them....that's what feet are for!


4:13 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

I've been debating about blocking my lace scarf too (if I ever finish it, that is). I too rather like the texture as it is but I really want it to look lacier and everyone says blocking will accomplish that. So I'll probably block it.

Hey, Barbara, I didn't know you were blocking-phobic. I thought I was the only one. In fact, I didn't know there was such a phobia. Figures I'd have it though. :-)

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

I vote for blocking all lace. That said, it doesn't have to be a harsh blocking--in fact, one lace shawl I knit, I basically just washed, laid out, and let it dry. Blocking is mostly to even out the stitches--when you have several different kinds of stitches, they can get a little uneven. I admit that for myself, I tend to like the ethereal, floaty lace. But the two shawls I wear most often? Plain old garter stitch, thick and warm, one of a fake mohair, one with a nubbly textured yarn. (The mohair one is retired until the kid quits pulling the fuzzies off it. He's almost 2.) Both are large triangles. Those I've never really blocked. And lace on socks? I don't block that either--just wearing them blocks them enough to see the lace. And I've never really blocked anything else.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Delisi said...

Kim, I like it! That's what feet are for. Besides, for socks, there's no way I'm going to block them every time they're washed...too much work.

LOL, Nancy! I have more unfinished projects than you can shake a knitting needle at. So I hear you.

Thanks for the blocking thoughts, Cathy. I might just try a more gentle blocking and see how that turns out...I can always do a more rigorous blocking if I don't like it, I guess!

4:02 PM  

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