Hot off the needles! It’s Romi Hill’s “Carson” from 7 Small Shawls year 3: Home is Where the Heart Is. It’s definitely one of my favorite knitting projects so far, and I can’t wait to strut this shawl when the weather cools down! However after casting off what felt like 10,000 stitches in pattern, I looked down and saw the stockinette section was a different density than the colorwork section, the garter-stitch border curled under, and the edging looked like curly parsley. EEK! PANIC! PANIC! What’s a knitter to do!?!
It was only a moment of panic, because experience has taught me that blocking can work miracles. This shawl, for example, responded beautifully to a good soak and a thorough blocking. I soaked the shawl in lukewarm water for forty-five minutes with wool wash and then pinned it into place with straight pins.
and here it is, post blocking . . . ta-da!
Blocking is not a cure-all; it won’t turn a purl stitch into a knit stitch, but it does a wonderful job of giving your project a polished, finished texture. As Elizabeth Zimmerman once pointed out, the fact that hand-knits of yore have perfectly even stitches is not due to perfect knitting, but rather because years of washing and blocking has helped homogenize the knitted fabric. Prior to blocking you couldn’t make out the texture of the edging, and my left and right twists were not symmetrical. Behold! The magic of shawl blocking!
I know many knitters dread blocking and finishing their projects because they don’t want to fiddle with hundreds of straight pins, or they have a hard time achieving symmetry. To which I say: blocking wires. Blocking wires are thin, flexible wires that are used to create even, symmetrical tension during blocking. They’re super easy to use, and they’ll last through hundreds of knitting projects.
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