Saturday, 21 December 2013

Blocking a knitted garment

Hello everybody, are you all en route with your Christmas preparations? 
I sure hope so, and I am sure many of you agree it is quite the race! 

My holiday has officially started, I had my last day at work this year on Wednesday. And if I am honest, I don't know how I would get done with all my shopping and preparations if it wasn't for those two extra days off. It also meant I was able to finish my Knit for Victory cardigan!! Yay!

I cast on November 21st, and I never thought it would be finished this fast! But the pattern was very straight forward, and I had very few problems along the way. Don't you just love it when things run smoothly?
I did however have the nagging feeling of knitting a child size cardigan, the pieces just looked SO small, and there was really no way to tell how it would turn out. Other than knitting the darn thing finished, naturally :)

I knew I had to block it, and having never done it before, it was an exciting new experience! 

So here's how I did it:

You'll need bucket, water, detergent, tape measure, towel, pins, cushion and knitted wool string :)
(a bottle of wine is useful too.)

I first finished all my pieces (obviously), and washed them how I would the finished cardi. I soaked the pieces in lukewarm water, using a mild detergent especially for wool. My yarn is 100% new wool. I was careful not to rub or wring it, I just gently swooshed it around in the water and squeezed what water I could from it with my hands. 

Rock and roll :)

Then, I placed the piece on a clean dry towel, rolled it up into a sausage, and stepped on it a few times. Yes, people, I did, just to get the towel to absorb the water. It works like a charm, and the pieces come out nice and flat and just the right amount of damp :)

Take care with the edges!  If you get scallops like these,
it may help using more pins, and just work the shape til it's even.

Next step is to stretch the piece to the right size and shape. My pattern had an illustration with measurements, so I just got out my tape measure, took some measurements of my own body for comparison and started pinning the piece onto my blocking surface. I used a garden couch seat cushion, but any pinable smooth surface will do. Just be careful your yarn will not bleed any color onto your pinning surface, it can do that when wet. I used large upholstery pins, but I am sure regular pins are just as useful. If they are without heads, pinning them at an angle away from your piece will keep it from slipping off.

Much better even edge.

Stretch and pin the piece into the shape and size you want, but make sure any edges are nice and even. When wet the piece is springy, but once dry it will hold the shape it dried into, so if you don't care for scalloped edges, do spend some extra moments getting it all even.
Also, make sure to match the length of the sides where front pieces and back piece meet, and also the shoulder area, so that sewing together goes smoothly.

Not too shabby:)

Just to give an idea on just how much larger you can make your pieces (Thank Gawd!!), here's my sleeves pre and post blocking! WOW!!

From straight jacket to wearable in a couple of hours :)

When your happy with the result, leave to dry :) Repeat with all pieces.
Now all's left is to weave in all those loose ends, and assemble your garment (which I have), so stay tuned ;)

In the meantime, don't forget to relax a bit and enjoy the Christmas spirit!
Merry Holidays to you all ;)

Friday, 13 December 2013

Knit-along coming along!

So the last few weeks have been quite busy over here in Norway-land.
Work is crazy, a lot of last minute scramblin' before the holidays, so when I finally get home from the factory and stable chores, I just want to pass out on the couch.

But there has been crafting! Oh yes!
Today is exactly three weeks since starting my Knit For Victory cardigan, using a vintage pattern from 1940.
It is free online on the Victoria and Albert Museum website, and is called 'A new design in cable stitch'.
And I must say it has been smooth sailings all the way! I have knitted some in the past, but mostly small things, like socks, mittens and hats. Oh yeah, and the Snowroses sweater :)
Here's my progress so far.

Back piece, not yet cast off because I wanted to coordinate
the armhole and the shoulder sloping to the fronts.

The fronts.
One of which I knitted one and a half time.... Forgot some decrease stitches at the armhole there.

Two thirds of a sleeve,
one and one third to go!!

This is my first cable knit, but it is really easy. All you need is an extra needle (a little wonky one for cabling) and the ability to count to eight, because you only do cabling (in this case) on every eighth row. Simple! I am "memory challenged", so I bought some markers to help me keep count, but so far I have only used one, for where I started the increases on the sleeve.

If anything, the hard part is getting the cables to look good near edges. For example, on the fronts I noticed after casting off, that the decrease rows on the shoulder was right on where a cable should happen, so it doesn't look right. If I don't fix it, I know it will bug the crap out of me, so there will have to be some frogging. But it is just a small piece at the top, so no biggie.

There should be cabling... could be worse though :)

There are some similar issues on the arms. Because of the increase stitches happening on either side, there will be new cables appearing, and at some point they will be wide enough to get "twisted" like the others. Until they are, they are just flat stripes of knit stitches and look odd. But since they will end up on the underside of the arm, I can live with it.

I did knit a swatch before I cast on, and had the right gauge.
But I did so in Stockinette, and I am so worried it will end up too small. I added extra stitches to the back piece and fronts (about the equivalent of 1 inch, so around 3" in total). All that is left now is one and a half sleeve, but for some reason I totally forgot to check the measurements on the sleeve sketch in the pattern, and did not add any extra stitches either! Gulp.

What can I say....I was eager. So praying they won't end up Arm-Strangulators. Heh..

Like mentioned before, at this point I think it mostly resemble a cabled straight jacket, so I will obviously be blocking the beejeezuz out of it. I am actually very curious on that process, because I have never blocked any knitting in my life, so I don't have any idea on just how much it is possible to block. Interesting!

But that's a tale for another post! Onwards!!