Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Intermediate gratification

My mom phoned me the other day for advice about her current project. It was a supposedly flat-topped hat, worked from the top down; she was dubious about it because it wasn't lying flat. So I recommended she block the WIP to see if that would make it lie flat, before investing any more time in it.

I actually block WIPs all the time. This has become easier since I bought some very long cables for my laminated wood interchangeables; I can just replace the needle tips with the plastic endcaps, and the cables function as flexible blocking wires. (Compared to knitting, blocking crochet in progress is so easy it feels like cheating: just replace the hook with a plastic coilless pin-style marker.)

Here are a few of the reasons I'm frequently pinning something out just before bed:

  • If I've found a mistake in lace several rows down (or, as happened to me earlier this week, a hundred! rows down), and it's the sort that can be fixed by dropping a stitch column or two, I know the repair will be a lot easier if I block it first to set the shapes of the stitches.

  • For a shawl, or some other garment where gauge isn't critical, I probably didn't swatch. So, I just want to see how the fabric is going to look after blocking, to make sure I like it. Again, this is particularly true with lace, which always looks a well-used dishrag before blocking; sometimes I just want a little reassurance that it'll be fine in the end. Compare the two pictures at right of the same project: the first was taken before blocking, and the second was taken afterwards. (The pattern, by the way, is Corrina Ferguson's Yeats.)

  • If I'm using a sleeve or some other small part of a garment as my gauge swatch, I need to block it as soon it's big enough to measure. (I may actually have finally outgrown the folly of measuring gauge without blocking!)

  • With a really challenging project, I might want to block gently before binding off, to reveal any mistakes I've missed while they're still accessible from above. I really don't ever want to repeat the occasion where I discovered a mis-crossed cable on the back of a sweater-- after I'd bound off the neck, joined the shoulders, and picked up stitches for the hood.

    And sometimes, I have more than one project going at a time. (I know, you're shocked!) Usually one of them is The Thing I Am Currently in Love With, and another is The Thing I Need to Get Done. Sometimes the only way I can force myself to stop working on the first is by blocking it in the morning. That way, I only have to be virtuous for the thirty seconds it takes to shove the object of enchantment into the sink; then for the rest of the day, I'll have to work on the object of drudgery until my beloved dries.

    (Or, uh, cast on something else entirely...)
  • No comments: