The final countdown. A step by step guide to blocking.

Author: Jacqueline

TNNA t minus 4 days.


It’s early Sunday morning. Time to block and finish my wrap. The pattern casually stops after BO. I would suggest, not surprisingly, that all patterns end with Soak-ing instructions. Feel free, oh designers of the world, to use these. (Minus the personal details)

First things first, sew in all the ends. One day I’ll figure out what to do with all the ends. Lovely scraps of green.
the extra ends

Lay out all the tools you need. I have my mats (aka tradeshow floor, hence, finishing before TNNA), towels, pins and of course Soak (celebration, my favourite) and my Carrie basin. This wrap is clearly too large to be soaked in Phil. You need enough water to fully cover the garment, which, is a surprisingly large amount of water, once the yarn soaks and gets fully saturated.
tools for blocking

I also documented the wrap, pre-Soak, for comparative reasons. Something tells me that I didn’t bring enough mats home and that it is going to grow. I also went back to the original pattern for ‘finished’ length instructions, so I have a point of reference.
preSoak

I filled Carrie with luke warm water. I hate super cold water, it makes my hands uncomfortable. Definitely avoiding hot water, it is wool after all.

Once I added the wrap, as predicted, I needed to add more water. When the wrap was fully immersed, I swished it around and around, to make sure there was enough water movement to get in every cable, stitch and twist.

15 minutes to Soak. Just enough time for breakfast. Ruby guarded the pattern and the pins.
1ruby

Every few minutes I moved both the water and the wrap around.

Swish, splash, wait.

Breakfast.
breakfast

The water is slowly turning green. The overwhelming vinegar smell that lingered while knitting (probably the fixing of the colour during the dyeing process) was finally dissipating, being replaced by the clean fresh scent of Celebration.

If you haven’t swished the water for a while, make sure you do, one last time before taking the garment out. Suds settle on the top of the water and can create residue spots. One last swish and we’re coming out of the water. Oh, I’ve also realized that this is probably a multiple towel project, so I’ve gone to my stash of back-up towels.  To the tub.

moretowel

I carried Carrie to the tub (Get it? Carried, Carrie- It has been a week full of people asking why Carrie is called Carrie and why Phil is called Phil. When I filled Phil with water, he couldn’t hold enough water so I switched to Carrie. Now get it?)
using carrie for blocking

It’s important to note that a good bunch of the time spent in my messy, poorly lit bathroom was gentling squeezing the wrap while it was in Carrie to remove water. You don’t want to lift up the weight of the water in the garment. It will stretch and distort. I was once again surprised how heavy the wrap was when wet, I clearly shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. This morning I was excited that no one was home, I have the bathroom, kitchen and living room mess to myself. Now I wish I had someone else to help with the Soaking. This wrap is getting long and heavy, further reinforcing the need to properly block it. We recommend bribing a friend when soaking a quilt or vintage textiles. I further amend by including large garments.

Post soaking, pre-drying and blocking. Finished measurements 18” x 68”. Any bets on whether I’ll get there?
post soak, pre block

Towel sandwich. First round of removing water.
towel sandwich
As I start to lay out the wrap, my first thought is that it’s never going to end up the size it is supposed to. Then, suddenly, as I begin to line up ribs and tighten up cables, the oscillating forms of the cables start to come to life. Corny, I know, but it’s true. The blocking process is revealing the cables as they rise above the surface of the double seed stitch, turning at every twist. When the cables are cabling, the wrap suddenly becomes narrower, shorter and closer to its desired finished size.
1postsoak2
Back to blocking. It is a lovely textured surface, mountains of green, rising in my living room. I can honestly say that I’m both shocked and thrilled as I discover the smooth curves and valleys of the cables I’ve made. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing (which I’m sure you’ve gathered) and I can’t believe how beautifully the garment is taking shape.

It’s obvious that I’m an advocate of Soak-ing and properly finishing knits. It’s not only about the shaping but also about respecting the process and allowing the fibers and the stitches to blossom to their fullest.

drying

As the scent of Celebration Soak fills the air, it’s almost lunch time, and I should go probably give myself a rewarding morning soak, while my wrap gently dries.

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One Comment on “The final countdown. A step by step guide to blocking.”

  1. Allie says:

    OK, so now TNNA’s over and you need to post a photo of the final blocked item! Did you have enough room on the blocking mats or did it expand exponentially? Enquiring minds want to know!


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