One of my current knit-alongs is the Heather Hoodie Vest from Knitscene.
The vest has a really beautiful X and O cable pattern up the back and the fronts, and a bunch of us were merrily knitting along and noticed that we were getting some ladders in a certain portion of the cable.
It doesn't really detract from the overall effect, but it was bugging me so I contacted the designer, Debbie O'Neill, and asked her if she had any tips.
Nice lady that she is, Debbie emailed me back immediately and told me that she'd had the same problem. Her finished Hoodie looked great, though, in the Knitscene photo spread that shows the project—so what gives?
Debbie said that after she blocked the pieces, the yarn relaxed a bit and the ladders closed up. Well, what do you know? Blocking to the rescue again!
Blocking is to finished pieces what gauging is to sizing; namely, a crucial step!! I have a friend who doesn't block her finished sweaters; she only blocks lace pieces. She says she doesn't like how blocked pieces look like they've been ironed. I told her she was over-blocking! Blocked pieces should end up looking smooth and even, not crushed. But she still doesn't block—she simply likes that "fresh-off-the-needles" look.
I always block, so after talking to Debbie, I was a little concerned that I wouldn't get the same result of the ladders closing up because I used a different yarn than she did for the model.
So I dug out my swatch and blocked it.
My hoodie is being knit out of Tahki Bunny, a Merino wool, alpaca, and acrylic blend. The model is knit from Lamb's Pride Bulky, which is a wool-mohair blend. I thought maybe my swatch wouldn't behave the same because of the alpaca and acrylic components.
I soaked my swatch in a sink of lukewarm water until it was totally wet. Then I rolled it in a towel to get most of the water out, pinned it to my blocking board, and waited for it to dry.
Wonder of wonders—it worked! The yarn bloomed a bit and those ladders tightened up. I think they'll probably reappear a little in wearing, but that's the nature of this pattern and I can live with that.
Have you had any similar blocking revelations? Share them with us in the comments.
Here's to great patterns and to believing in blocking process!
P.S. There's a new Knitscene out in your local yarn stores (or get yours here). Hurry and get your copy before they're gone!