Ends and beginnings

I must admit that I am enjoying these blocking wires:

Compared to my previous blocking method, the wires speed things up a great deal. With the ‘tensioned string’ method, the most time-consuming part is securing the string in a fully extended position, considering both the string and the shawl are opposing this tooth and nail. Inevitably, one of the pins loses its head and ends up… in your buttocks.

With blocking wires this problem is eliminated – thread the wire through the edge, pin one end, pull on the other, then pin it, too. No opposition! A few (16, to be exact) pins hold the shawl in place, and voila!

One note about these particular blocking wires from KnitPicks: when they arrived, they appeared to be a little greasy and several had black spots of gunk on them. All of this easily came off with a damp paper towel, so it wasn’t a big deal.

The points of this shawl came out more delicate and subtle than my mom’s shawl. I think this is partly due to the nature of the yarn – half of the content is silk and cashmere, and it’s spun and plied in a way that maximizes the fibers’ inelastic qualities.

In addition, stretching all the points along a straight line (dictated by the blocking wire, but it would be the same if they were blocked on a piece of string) dampens the shape of each individual point. In other words, if I pinned each point individually and stretched it as much as possible, the shape would be less triangular and a bit more like a semi-circle, with each point more pronounced.

I noticed this as soon as I started to pin out the shawl, and figured out the reasons behind it, yet left it as is – meaning, I’m quite pleased with the delicate edge, and don’t want to change it :).

FO photos: soon 🙂 (rain, rain, go away!)


My projects for October are starting to take shape. First up – a new pair of socks! My timing couldn’t have been more perfect – it’s the first day of October, and the first day of Socktoberfest!

I’m challenging myself to come up with an original pattern using twisted stitches. This isn’t my typical realm of expertise, so I have my Walkers and Erlbachers at my side. And if the shit hits the fan… let’s just say I’m already prepared, so the possibility is likely – Chalet Socks from Folk Socks, and Eunny’s Bayerische socks are at my disposal. If the twisted stitches are too much to handle, Aran Braided Socks from KnitPicks have the look I’m going for without too much headache.

Yarn? Lorna’s has been ordered from Linda. It may or may not be a very happy green. It may or may not be a very happy blackberry. We will see once it arrives :).


36 thoughts on “Ends and beginnings

  1. Karen B.

    You know that shawl is beautiful (color, design and execution)! Wire blocking is definitely the way to go.

    As for socks, I love Eunny’s patterning the best. Nice choices, though 🙂

  2. Beverly

    Oooh…do Eunny’s Bayerische. Those are fabulous! Your shawl is stunning…I’m must get some of those blocking wires! 16 pins? Hmmm…

  3. Monika

    I’ve got the Erlbacher books too. They are pretty good. The patterns are easier to knit in the round, though I’ve tried it with two needles as well. Should keep you entertained for years! ;o)

  4. Lynn

    Ooh I’d wondered about those blocking wireds. They looks like a must for my Christmas list.

    Great shawl and can’t wait to see your socks.

  5. teep

    The Bayerische are quite alluring… alluring enough that they’re on my to-do list even though I have no idea how to do twisted stitch anything.

  6. Molly

    It appears that Uberlieferte Strickmuster in the bottom right corner is in German (or something close to that effect). I speak a little German, so I decided to buy some back issues of Rebecca in Deutsch, but unfortunatly we never learned knitting terms in class. I’ve been able to figure a few things out, but it’s still pretty fuzzy to me. Do you happen to know of a website or book with some kind of English-Deutsch knitting dictionary?

  7. diana

    Shawl looks great. Thanks for the review of blocking wires. Definitely the way for me to go with a toddler in the house.

  8. Leisel

    My blocking wires came from elsewhere (although I can’t remember the name of the online store now… it might possibly have been Patternworks), and they were black and greasy, too. I wiped them and they looked better. I just hope it was some artifact of their manufacture and not some sort of tarnish that will return.

  9. Peggy

    I have purchased the same blocking wires and have enjoyed them tremendousely, after cleaning them. Thank you for showing the blocking photo. Even though I had purchased wires, I was still using a pin on each point. The wires make so much more sense.

  10. kmkat

    I think that is my favorite of all the lace patterns I have ever seen, besides which I’m awfully fond of red. Gorgeous! If I weren’t lace-handicapped, I’d think about making it.

  11. Linda

    I still can’t wait for you to tell us what you’re going to do with that Classic Silk you ordered.

  12. Debra

    The Erlbachers are out of print. The store you linked to ran out of copies in late July- and Meg Swanson is looking for permission to reprint them. If you find any available copies, let me know!!!

  13. Susan

    Once again, you answered a question I’d been wondering about–whether to use a wire or pins when blocking the points of the shawl. I just blocked my FBS yesterday, and I used pins. It was harder to get the points in a smooth line, but they are very sharp points with a big scallop in between. I’m happy with the shape of my FBS, but looking at your Shetland Triangle, I have serious fiber envy. Beautiful color! Lovely sheen! And thanks for the answer.

  14. j a r e d

    are the Strickmuster books checked out from the library? or your own collection? If so…. any tips on where to find them? I’ve been searching high and low with absolutely no luck. And the New York Public Library can’t deliver on this one (for once)…

    They’re wonderful!

  15. Stephanie

    The shawl is really lovely. And yay for socks! I can’t wait to see what you come up with, and I love the other patterns you’re considering. It’s a good month for socks.

  16. margaux

    shawl is gorgeous. i am seriously on my last repeat and need to finish soon. you have made me truly consider getting blocking wires. how much easier can that be?? and YEA for Socktoberfest!! WOO

  17. Leigh

    Thanks for the information on the KnitPicks blocking wires. I’ve been thinking of ordering these but have been hesitant. I read your blog though I think this is the first time I’ve commented(?) And the shawl BTW, is gorgeous!

  18. Alison

    Beautiful shawl!

    With as many shawls as I do, blocking wires were one of the best investments I have made. So much easier; I love mine.

  19. Gryphon

    What’s that little pile of books called Uberlieferte Strickmuster? Those look interesting. Texts of stitch patterns? Can we get a peek inside?

  20. April

    The shawl looks fantabulous =)*)

    Yaay for Soctoberfest.

    Maybe enough crap has hit the fan around here to spare you this month. Hope so!

  21. Sara

    Three points of information, which I suspect you know but which may be of interest to some of your other readers:

    1. There is a knitting-term translation resource at http://www.wiseneedle.com/glossary.asp — for a complete listing in two or more languages, select the “all terms” box, and use the control key while you select your languages in the language box.

    2. Blocking wires can be used in conjunction with pinned-out points, by running the wires through the fabric slightly inward from the points, and then pinning the points themselves out individually beyond the wires. I realize that this was not the look you wanted in this instance, and merely mention it for the use of others.

    3. Twisted stitches are be one of the points in knitting where the direction of spin/ply of the yarn makes a difference. Twisting the stitch in one way will tighten the twist of the yarn, while twisting it in the other way will relax it; the former will produce a crisper appearance than the latter. This may affect your ability to achieve exact mirror-image designs, if that is desired.

  22. knitdds

    Grumperina, love the shetland triangle, and love your fancy new blocking wires. . .and I’m admittedly curious about how the pins end up in various parts of your anatomy (ow), having never actually owned more than a towel for blocking. (However, I’m not a lace knitter, yet).

    I think my socktoberfest socks are going to be your Jaywalkers. . .they’re highly recommended. Thanks!

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