For years, I have used pins to block my lace shawls--dozens and dozens of T-pins, painstakingly placed and then adjusted one by one until every single point was just right, and every single motif was shown off to its best advantage.
I'd heard of blocking wires, but never given them much thought, until a friend at knit night said, "Oh, you really ought to try them if you do a lot of shawls--they make blocking the shawl go so much faster, and you can get all the points even fairly quickly."
That got my attention. I'm pretty meticulous when I pin out my shawls, and it can take me a really long time to get a large shawl with lots of points pinned out to my liking. So I bought a set of blocking wires, and tried it out on the next shawl...and Oh. My. Goodness. What a difference the wires made! All the points, exactly the same length, all even, without me pinning and unpinning and re-pinning them over and over again.
I will say, however, that the obsessive in me misses that deep connection that is formed between a knitter and her shawl during the process of pinning and adjusting a gadzillion pins. I'd lovingly pat out every motif, every point, and pin everything Just So. The blocking wires do a lot of this work for me...so I do sort of miss that precise, detailed, pin-every-yarnover-into-submission-for-an-entire-morning sort of experience. However, for speed, and overall consistency, blocking wires cannot be beat.
You can get the general idea of how to use blocking wires from the photos here; but I've also put together a step-by-step photo tutorial just in case you'd like the whole glamorous process shown in living color.
About the green shawl: I needed a shawl to use for this tutorial, and I did not have one available; so I knit a mini-shawl in the Estonian style, using patterns and techniques from Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush. The inner triangle is the Leaf Motif from Nancy's Triangular Leaf Scarf seen here, and the border is the Modern 16-Round Lace Edge from the stitch dictionary at the back of the book. I had a lot of fun choosing the stitch patterns for this little shawl--and it took me only four evenings to knit!
If you'd like to knit your own Estonian lace shawl, Knitted Lace of Estonia is a great resource for techniques and patterns. It has 14 stunning shawl patterns, plus a library of traditional stitch patterns at the back of the book that you can use to customize your own creations. Look for Knitted Lace of Estonia at your local yarn shop, or order it here.
Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. She is now the author of the popular Knitting Daily blog: What's on Sandi's Needles.
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