Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Lesson 8: Blocking and Weaving in Ends.

Block Party!

So, you have four rectangles of knitting. But they're probably curled, a bit uneven, and have those tails of yarn hanging off of them. That's not pretty, is it?

Not pretty knitting.

Mind you, my lovely assistants, Tim and Burton, still love it.

Cats love knits.

So, how do we fix it? With a little trick called blocking. If you're using acrylic yarn, it will only minimally block. Because plastic is pretty much set into the shape it was made in. But you can very, very gently steam it, and stretch it a bit, to make it lie better.

If you went with wool or cotton, though, you can wet block. And you'll be amazed! You'll need a towel, and either a piece of foam floor mat, a firm bed, or another piece of furniture you can stick pins into. An ironing board works great for small pieces like this. I have mine on a piece of foam flooring. Don't spend big on a blocking board.

The first thing you'll do is get your pieces wet. You can wet them in a sink with a bit of wool wash, or hair conditioner, or just plain water, (always cold! Don't wash your hand knits in hot water.) or you can spray them with a spray bottle right on your blocking area. I like a quart size bottle with about a tablespoon of white vinegar and a couple of drops of vanilla extract. The vinegar takes out any smells your yarn might have picked up in your bag, or even in the store, and the vanilla leaves it smelling sweet. Get those pieces good and wet. If you sink soaked them, don't wring them out, just squeeze. If you're spraying, spritz and pat until they're saturated. The pieces will get really loose and stretchy. That's what we want! Now, shape them into nice, even squares. It's fine to eyeball this. No need to go for rulers and protractors. Stick a couple of pins into any spots that aren't coming out right with just your hands. You should have something like this:

Blocking blocks!
Now just leave it alone until it's dry, take the pins out, and you have pretty knitting.

But, you still have those tails. You can choose whether to weave them in before or after blocking. Everyone has their preferences. Depending on the piece, sometimes I do it first, sometimes second. They both work. Get out your little tapestry needle, and thread your yarn tail through it.

In stockinette, the most invisible weave-in is duplicate stitch. Basically, you follow the yarn as it sits, making the tail duplicate a row of knitting. Bring the needle up through the bottom of a stitch, follow the loop through the stitch above it, and then down the bottom loop the same way. Like so: 

Notice the top loop of the stitch right below the needle.

And now the bottom loop of the same row right above the needle.

On garter, it's even easier. Just thread your needle right up the back through the bumps. Easy:

Super easy.

You don't have to weave the whole tail. A couple of inches is plenty. Cut off the rest, leaving about 1/4 inch. All done! Admire your pretty knitting for a few minutes, and then let's move on to finishing our piece! 

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