Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's Blocking Time Again

It's shawl blocking time again, and I am not ready. My poor aching back is still recovering from the move.

Yes, I've finished knitting the Pastiche Shawl (my version of the Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl), which is exciting, but I will miss it. It's been my morning companion for the past three months. Every morning – tea and shawl knitting.

Binding off took more time and yarn than I had expected, but a few days later the shawl was off the needles and quietly admiring the view from the balcony. Unblocked it is 65" wide and 32" down the center back – nice and large, as I had wanted.

While the shawl was enjoying its new freedom I began to think about blocking. It doesn't need to be any bigger, just spread out enough to show off its laciness. The bottom edge is particularly important. It should maintain that feather-and-fan curviness. Without going into full-on blocking mode, I tried pinning out the center of some of the curves with one pin each.

Then I tried using three pins.

Much better, huh? So, here's the situation. There are 26 (13 on each side of the center) of these curves. Using three pins each . . . well, I'm sure you can do the math. Yes, I can buy more pins, and I might even have enough already. But can I survive the experience? That's a whole lot of crawling around on the floor.

I'm still studying the problem. Can't think of any way that blocking wires could help. About the only improvement I've been able to come up with is to fold the shawl in half at the center thereby reducing the curves to be pinned from 26 (whimper) to 13. It would take longer to dry, but so what. Since I have no furniture yet (just a bed and one chair) there's more than enough floor space.

As usual, suggestions are greatly desired. Has anyone ever blocked a feather-and-fan shawl? Or blocked something large and complicated without injuring their body?


beverlyanne said...

I hate blocking too, so sorry no tips. But I LOVE your shawl. No pain, no gain?

Knitting Linguist said...

Oh, boy. That's a tough one. I usually just factor in the time to recover from the lower-back pain after blocking (not really a satisfactory solution, I realize). For me, the floor is much better than a bed, as being on my hands and knees is easier than leaning... I like your doubling-over idea for the shawl, though. Or maybe run a wire through those bottom two or three stitches in each bump?

Sharon said...

No help here. I guess we'll learn from you.

Sheila said...

I think the 3 pin method so look the best with that soft scallop. Go for more pins. You can't have too many. It's looking good.

Laura said...

You could fold it in half, halving the # of pins and times you bend over, and then set a fan to blow over it. It would dry very quickly. I convince fiberous things of varying kinds to dry that way - I live in the coast rainge (oops, range) of Oregon, and it's really hard to get things dry.


Willow said...

My first thought was what you thought too: fold in half. Then I thought, Well, I usually use the guest bed to pin my blocking. But you don't have a bed yet. Hmmm, I vote for 13x3 pins.

Whatever you do, it's beautiful.

bspinner said...

Sorry to hear about your back pain!! Your shawl is lovely!!!! I agree block is a pain but I think the more pins the better blocked your shawl will be.

Marjorie said...

I think that crawling around on the floor is the only way to do it. I take a warm shower first and then stretch my back muscles before blocking a large shawl, and I sometime use the cushion designed to protect your knees while weeding to make it less uncomfortable to kneel over the wet shawl.

I've noticed that some people use their bed for blocking, and I wondered if this wasn't easier on the back.

For the feather and fan shawl, which is looking beautiful, the blocking wires wouldn't be much help.

Leigh said...

I'm sorry about your back!

I've never even knitted a feather-and-fan shawl let alone blocked one. Looks like you have the best idea with the 3 pins.

~ Phyllis ~ said...

I'm afraid that blocking isn't one of my favorite things to do.
Your shawl is lovely

Delighted Hands said...

Hey, how are you coming on the shawl? Did you block it-are you feeling better?