Blocking question.

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Top 150 Contributor
Posts 33
on Oct 21, 2009 5:23 PM

Many of you may have seen my picture of the chuppah I just started to knit (if not it is in the gallery). When finished it is going to be 77 inches square. Do you have any tips for blocking it when it is finished, something of that size? I have never blocked anything before, so I would appreciate anything about blocking. Thank you.

~ Happy Knitting ~

Top 50 Contributor
Posts 99
mandyangela wrote
on Oct 24, 2009 2:13 PM

Hi KnitFriend!!

I have mentioned the 'blocking' video on your picture gallery post.  I haven't seen the video myself, so I don't know what it says about items the size you intend to create.

However, I do block Shetland Cobweb shawls 50-60 ins. square, so I will tell you what I do with them and maybe you could adapt my technuque to suit your work.  The piece usually needs some kind of cleaning when it is finished.  My shawls are always made with pure wool, so I use a liquid cleaner specifically designed for cleaning wool, and use a bowl with no sharp edges - you don't want to snag your work as i learned once to my cost.  Also, when joining in new yarn, I leave long loose tails which I don't trim until the blocking process is finished - more on this later.

Make sure the water is lukewarm - basically as mildly warm as the water you would bath a tiny baby in - and make sure the detergent is fully dissolved.  remove any watches, rings or bracelets, and make sure you have no sharp/jagged fingernails.  Lower the work in carefully and let the piece soak by itself.  Leave for approximately 5 minutes (or whateve your detergent/yarn care instructions recommend).  I don't rub or agitate the work, just very gently press the work with the back of the fingers. 

Put some cool water in a second bowl for the start of the rinsing process.  Lift your work out very carefully, making sure the work is fully supported.  Squeeze very very very gently to remove excess water, and put in the second bowl to rinse.  Rinse out the first bowl and fill this with cool water.  Keep passing the work between bowls until the rinse water is clear.  It is very important to make sure all the cleansing detergent is removed as it could damage the yarn fibres if it is not rinsed away.

Preparation of your drying and blocking surfaces can be done while your work is soaking.  To dry, you could use some bath towels - soft cotton, ideally in a colour similar to the work you have produced (I always have some white/cream ones just for my shawl work).  Lay them on a flat surface - I use my kitchen dining table.  You'll probably need several towels, depending on their size.

Once the work is fully rinsed. lift the work carefully and v v v v gently squeeze out excess water - never wring the work.  Lay it gently on your towels.  Now roll up your towels, enclosing the work, until you have a big 'roll' and press this very gently to remove as much water as possible.

Now the blocking.   You will need a large floor space - carpeted or a non-slip rug -  that will be undisturbed for many hours. I lay a sheet on the floor - as with the towels a soft cotton sheet which I keep specially for shawl work.  The following will be a lengthy procedure, but it is necessary to make your work look its best.

Place your shawl on the sheet and gently manipulate it so it lies flat across the sheet.  Next the pins which I use to get the shawl to its correct shape.  They must be a rust-free variety - I use ordinary dressmaking pins which have coloured plastic bobbles for the pin head.  Check each pin before putting it in your work to make sure it is perfectly smooth and has no rough ends which could snag and snap your work. 

Put the pins in the loops of the chuppah edging making sure the pins don't go through the yarn strands.  Pin each of the four corners out to approsimately the size you want.  Then another pin in the centre point of each of the edges.  Keep doing this until the shawl is fully pinned out - my shawls have a scalloped edging and I keep going until there is a pin in each scallop.  As you're working on the floor, make sure you rest frequently so you don't strain your back.

After this initial pin-out, stand up and look at what you've done.  Look at all the pins to see if they are straight.  Move pins in/out as needed until you are happy you have your work squared.  As mentioned earlier, the floor space will need to be undisturbed until the work is fully dried.

This pin-out part really is a very lengthy process, but it will make your work look how it should, so it is essential it is done slowly and carefully.  I have been known to take up to two hours to do the pin-out, not that I'm fussy!

Once you are happy your work is dry, take the pins out carefully and slowly.  It is at this point I trim the ends where I joined in new wool, the reason being that the pin-out process is intended to stretch the work into shape and I want plenty of spare yarn that will stretch with the work.  It is in this removal part where the coloured pin heads are necessary - you can see easily if you have left any in. 

Lift your chuppah from the sheet, lay on another contrasting surface.  Stand back.  Admire.  Heave a huge sigh of relief and practice your emergency de-stress routine!!!!

I think I've covered everthing, but please feel free to add another entry if you have any questions.  I have requested the reply option for any responses to my post so I will get back to you and help where I can.  I do think you are very wise in doing a practice chuppah as this will make sure you can solve any problems before doing the real one.

Anyway, enough for now, I'll just say happy knitting!

Wishing you well,

Mandy

 

 

Top 150 Contributor
Posts 33
on Oct 26, 2009 4:58 PM

First, I want to thank you for your great response. I did watch the video and that helped to some degree, but your reply helped even more. I have a pretty good idea of how to block my chuppah. I am still nervous because I've never done it before, but I know I have to start at some point. I guess the only question I have is what kind of soap do you use? Thank you so much.

Happy Knitting.

~ Happy Knitting ~

Top 50 Contributor
Posts 99
mandyangela wrote
on Oct 27, 2009 2:28 AM

Hi there!

I'm glad you found my info helpful!  I looked at it after I had typed it and thought it looked a bit long, but something special deserves the best care and attention and I firmly believe you can't ever give too much time to something so important. 

If you like, you could make a small square in a fairly plain pattern, perhaps 15-20 inches, and try the blocking process on that before you block your practice chuppah.  Then by the time you work on the real chuppah, you will feel much more at home.

As for washing liquid, it depends on the yarn you are using and where you live.  My shawls are always made of pure wool so I use a cleanser specially for wool.  The detergents used for everyday clothes washes are nearly always unsuitable for wool.  I live in a coastal town in north-east England here in the UK, and I use a detergent made by ASDA stores, part of the Wal-Mart empire.  They make an eco-friendly liquid detergent specially for delicate fabrics, and I wash all my wool items in it.   What is your yarn made of?  You could ask at your local yarn store for advice on wash liquids available where you live.

Take care, speak to you soon.

Mandy

Top 150 Contributor
Posts 33
on Oct 28, 2009 1:07 PM

I am using Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Brush (80% alpaca, 20% acrylic; 110 yd [100 m]/50 g): #1000 off-white.

I might just try doing the prace blocking square. Should I use the same yarn as the chuppah? Thanks so much.

~ Happy Knitting ~

Top 50 Contributor
Posts 99
mandyangela wrote
on Oct 28, 2009 1:40 PM

Hi there!!!

Yes, absolutely!   Do use the same yarn for the small test piece as you intend to use for your chuppah.  This will give you an idea of how the 'real thing' will handle and, most importantly, how it will look.

I admire your dedication, not only in doing so much work for your wedding, but everything you are also doing for your married life - I read your bio and thought WOW!

My very best wishes.  Speak to you soon.

Mandy

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