Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lace Magic

This is the thing that keeps lace knitters coming back. The best single moment in knitting, in my oh-so-humble opinion. It's like crack.

I refer, of course, to blocking.

There you are, with a crumpled mass of Ramen noodles hanging from your needles.
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You patiently work through the 864-stitch sewn bindoff, but the shawl still cannot be worn.

You give it the gentlest of baths in a sink full of warm water, then place it tenderly on a towel and roll it up to squish out most of the water. You're being so sweet with it because you don't want it to felt. Good Godfrey, no. You did not spend a month knitting this thing to end up with an orange spiral pot holder.

You vacuum the carpet to within an inch of its life, so it will be a fit resting place for your dainty wool confection.

Then, in a personality transformation worthy of Jack Nicholson, you become a ruthless wool torturer, stretching your shawl as if on the rack and PINNING each point firmly to the rug.
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You go around and around, measuring across the center and repositioning pins until the shawl is as close to perfectly shaped (mine is round, but the process is the same for other shapes) as is possible.
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I'm a fan of what's called "severe blocking". That means I pull it so taut that by the time it dries the shawl is typically hovering over the carpet in the middle, rising into the air under its own tension.
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The result is truly Lace Magic. The lace holes have opened out, and each pinned spot on the edging has dried into a cute little point which will stay that way.
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The entire shawl is crisp, smooth and beautiful,
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with a wonderful drape.
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Oh, and I cut my hair!

PS: what do you do when you finish a lace project?

Cast on a lace headband with the leftovers!
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