Posts Tagged ‘finishing’

Wrapped in Love

August 24, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, a package arrived from my dear friend Barbara. Inside was a beautiful just-about-finished Woven Sky Throw and a lovely note asking for my help in completing the finishing touches, like weaving in ends — which proved to be a great activity (i.e. requires very little thinking) while keeping Mom comfortable during her hospitalization.

MGH-ends

As I’d discovered on my first entrelac project, the technique brings with it a lot of gaps where the edge stitches are picked up — at least, that was my experience. Barbara’s project was similar, so I closed them up one by one, tidying as best I could.

entrelac-gaps

Two opposite edges had been bound off too tightly, pulling in the corners. I tinked* back back the bind off and then re-bound it off, taking care to do so loosely. The final result wasn’t quite evenly square, but it was closer. A quick swish in the bath, a cool rinse, and then blocking flat were the true finishing touches.

Soon this exquisite creation will belong to Barbara’s granddaughter as she heads off to college, hers to cuddle in good times and bad. I’m confident she’ll be able to feel the love infused in every stitch.

entrelac-throw-finished

*tink = to un-do stitch by stich (knit spelled backwards)

 

 

 

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Blanket Blocking

January 25, 2018

When I first started knitting — several decades ago now — projects were done when they came off the needles. If pieces needed to be stitched together, they were seamed and done. But more recently, I’ve become a blocking convert.

Blocking – the process of using water and shaping to truly “finish” the piece — is now the final step in my knitting projects. I first experienced the transformative power of blocking with my first lace shawl. And while the difference isn’t as dramatic in every project, blocking gives your finished work a more even, professional look.

After I’d woven in all the ends on the Siman Blanket, I spread it on the floor to admire its size and pattern — and its fluffy “waves.”

Siman-blanket-fluffy

Some knitters will debate the merits of steam blocking with an iron versus the full-immersion method. I’m firmly in the full-immersion camp, preferring to plop the entire project into a sink or bath of warm water, swishing it about with some gentle soap, and rinsing.  Given all the places my knitting travels and the dribbles of tea or wine or crumbs of graham crackers amidst the stitches, I figure that a good wash is needed anyway. Warm water and a cap of Euclan swished about and then into the bath.

Siman-blanket-bath

After a good hour of soaking and a gentle wash, I drained the soapy water and refilled with clear water for a rinse. After draining, the water-soaked blanket was heavy!

Siman-blanket-wet

Trying not to twist, I squeezed out as much water as I could, and then wrapped and rolled it into a few bath towels. A blanket burrito of sorts!

Siman-blanket wrapped

Then I spread the whole, significantly larger blanket onto a bed, pinned it in a few spots to help hold the shape, and left it to dry for a day or so.

Siman-blanket-blocked

I couldn’t resist wrapping myself in it before folding it carefully and mailing off to sweet Hannah. I like to think of her in her chilly apartment, warmly wrapped in love.

wrapped-siman-blanket.jpeg

P.S. She likes it.

Blanket-thanks-mhd

Curlers in Her Hair

June 8, 2015

For the past few months, I’ve been monogamous in my knitting, working on Michael’s sweater with the hope of finishing it by Memorial Day, when it’s still cool here in Massachusetts. The sweater is finished, but it’s not done. But that’s a story for another day….

In the aftermath of finishing/not-finishing, I’ve cast on two smaller projects, neither of which will have size issues.

Last fall, I bought a skein of Kidding Ewe by Done Roving Yarns at Bee’s in Bar Harbor, Maine. “Cherries Jubilee” is a yummy mix of reds, purples, and greens that will make a lovely cowl or, in this case, a wimple.

First 2 inches of Old Shale Wimple

Yes, “Maria” has been running through my brain.

Second project: “A Good, Plain Sock” in Berroco Sox. This pair for Patrick, who casually commented that I’d knit socks for everyone in the family except him.

Good plain sock recipe

What’s on your needles these days?

 

 

 

Sleeve Setting

May 6, 2015

I must confess that sweater sleeves make me nervous — specifically, the sewing of sleeves to the body and shoulder of a sweater. The seams along the length of the sleeve are easy enough since the stitches line up one-to-one. But as you approach the shoulder, the geometry gets a bit more complicated, with decreases that create shapely curves but can create challenges when it comes to lining up the sleeve to the sweater body.

So it’s no accident that the sweater pattern than I selected as the basis for Michael’s sweater has “flat top” sleeves, no taper, no sleeve cap. If I’d watched this terrific, clear, and helpful video from Knit Picks on how to set in sleeves before selecting the pattern, I may have chosen something different. Next time perhaps….

First step (after blocking all pieces, so really it’s the second step) is to line up the sleeve with the body and secure it. Some knitters use safety pins, clip-on stitch markers, or even paper clips. I prefer to tack — or tie — the sleeve to the body, taking care to line up the center of the top sleeve edge with the shoulder seam.

tacking sleeve edge to shoulder of knit sweater

It’s also important to be sure that the side edges of the sleeve extend equally down the front and back of the sweater. That makes an even armhole, but even more importantly, ensures that the sides of the sweater line up evenly when the time comes to sew those together.

close up knit sweater sleeve tacked before sewing

When I’d secured the sleeve to the shoulder, I asked Michael to try it on to see if the armhole was big enough. He carefully put his head through the neck, draped the cape-like garment over his shoulders — and the sleeve dropped right off!

Pro tip: be sure to actually tie the yarn that holds the sleeve to the shoulder. Gravity is everywhere and will pull off just looped yarn “tacks.”

Attention to Details

May 5, 2015

As I near the finish of Michael’s sweater, I try to balance the desire to hurry up and be done with it already with the desire to ensure that it’ll fit properly and look nice enough that he’ll want to wear it. Most knitters can recount clothing they’ve made for family or friends that never sees the light of day, remaining in drawers or closets somewhere.

Blocking before sewing is one of those important details. Plus, it’s fun to see the pieces laid out and lovely.

front of nordic sweater blocking on bed

Last night, when the 1.5″ neckband that the pattern called for was too high and turtleneck-ish for Michael’s taste, I calmly patiently carefully tinked* back several rows and binded off a 1/2″ neckband (K2 P2 ribbing). Much better, Michael declared.

close-up of knit ribbed neckband on sweater

Tomorrow, the sleeves.

* Tink = knit spelled backwards; the process of un-doing knitting stitch by stitch, rather than ripping out row by row.

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