Extreme Makeover – Yarn Edition

So, you knit something. You pour your life, your hours, your fingers into this piece. And you cast it off.

And it looks like a sorry mess, i.e., like the below….

Sorry scrunchy mess?

Look at THAT messy stitching! Not an inch of definition, clarity or beauty.

I need to get in shape!

We need some heavy metal manipulation. Meet the blocking wires (I got mine from hulucrafts).

Metal on metal, it's what I like...

The process is simple. Once you’ve cast off your piece, don’t darn in the ends – this is my preferred method. I like my ends to be free because I can hide them much better after blocking. Clean your sink.

Clean sink - leave NO cleansing bathroom agents of any kind on it - it may ruin your knitting!

Grab your wool-wash of choice, mine is Eucalan but Soak works wonders as well, and if you’re not in possession of any of those, any VERY mild washing agent for clothes will do (I’ve a small secret about this whole washing thing and I have to tell you later….)

mmmm lavender!

Fill your sink with lukewarm water. People find that word hard to understand. If your yarn is not superwash, you want to avoid anything hot unless your intention is to felt that sweater into something to fit your little cousin’s Barbie doll. You also want to avoid anything cold because in cold water, the scales in the yarn (of animal origin only) won’t open, the cleansing/softening agent won’t penetrate and you will not get the desired result – animal hair is like human hair and why do you think your hairdresser washes your hair with warm water? Because those expensive treatments need to go INTO the hair. Enough hair tech 101. Put your knitted piece in the sink.

Uh-oh? Stubborn?

Come on, IN THE SINK, I said!!

Like that.

Let it soak there for enough time for you to have a cuppa coffee but not that long that the water gets cold.

Grab some towels you don’t like. The towel you dry your dog with, the one you dye your hair with, you clip your husband’s hair with or the one you give your in-laws (not mine, they get nice towels, I happen to like them). Take the dripping sorry garment out of the water, squeeze the extra water out, but do not wring. I cannot stress this enough, don’t wring. Wrap in the towel, give it another squeeze and move on to your biggest pinnable surface – your kid’s playing foam mats, your old yoga mats, or your guest bed (here’s some clever thinking – don’t use YOUR bed, you do want to sleep in  it tonight, right?)

Weeping yarns

I like to lay the towel(s) flat on the surface to ensure all the extra moisture doesn’t go into the mattress, after all, there’s no need to have a smelly room.

Lay the garment (or shawl in my case) flat, and slowly thread wires through the straight edges of the shawl. Don’t be a scrooge and use as many as required. Lace in this case needs to ssstreeeeeeeeeeetcccchhhhhh.

Straight and narrow

After this, for my shawl I need to thread the wires through the peaked edges. This will give it that lovely scalloped look we all love in triangular shawls.

Peek-a-boo?

And once that’s done, the fun begins. Stretch. Start on one end, pinning the wires to the surface, stretching the longer edge, and then pin the highest peak. After that, adjust the peakiness of the rest of them, ensure you get a straight line on all straight parts and the most difficult thing remains.

mmmm lacy

Wait for it to dry. :)

This tutorial was brought to you by the shawl which will be on display at The Bothered Owl’s Xmas party (see the link on the right??) – after that, it’ll go to sail the wonderful trunk shows of Pippa, the woman behind Sweet Clement, who gave me the gorgeous pink yarn you see transformed above.

Oh – remember I said something about a secret with washing? If you have absolutely no wool wash or gentle cleanser…. try conditioner. I’m serious.