I love blocking the things that I knit. It surprises me when I hear about knitters who hate it. There is a lovely alchemy that happens for me at the end of a project.
You finally cast off. Woo hoo. Finished.
Well, finished the knitting part anyway. Now it's time to do the things that will take it from homemade to handmade.
Looking at the above picture, the hem is curling up, the ribbing at the neckline is a little too ribby, and it's looking a little rough.
First step, sew in all the ends.
There aren't too many in this one. It's knit all of a piece, so there's no seaming. I spit spliced all the interior ends, so it's just the beginning and end bits of yarn to sew in.
Then comes the fun part.
Giving it a good soak. This is where the alchemy begins. Wool has a hydrophobic (water repelling) exterior and a hydrophilic(water absorbing) interior. That means that it takes a while for it to soak up water. I like to use warm-ish water when I'm blocking wool garments. This is for two reasons - I'm messy and future washes will probably involve warm water for cleaning purposes, and I have cold hands, so I love using warm water. I also like using no-rinse products like Soak or Eucalan. They are lovely for wool or delicates and they usually are lightly scented. I submerge it a little, then walk away for awhile. Have a cup of coffee. Sit quietly.
This sweater in particular has been a comfort in a tumultuous time. My mom has been in and out of the hospital three times over the last six weeks. She ended up with an infection that spread to her liver and kidneys, so she is at the stage where she has to get strong enough to be able to have the surgery to remove the gallbladder. I started it when she had been sent home the first time. She was home for four days, but had a severe gallbladder attack and got so dehydrated that we had to call an ambulance to take her to emergency and get rehydrated. Two days later, she was back home but had to go back after another couple of days. After another five day stint in the hospital, she came home again, and has stayed put. The second sleeve was knitted while sitting watching her rest after another attack on Monday. We decided to wait and see this time before heading back to the hospital and her body luckily rallied and she is slowly healing again. Needless to say, this last six weeks has been a roller coaster. This sweater has been a comfort and a relief from the stress of all of it. The comfort from sticks and strings when the rest of your world is out of control is indescribable.
Now comes the really fun part. You squeeze out the excess water, then roll it up in a towel and stomp on it to get even more moisture out. Kids love this part by the way. Every time I do it, I am reminded of when the kids were little and it blew their mind that I wanted them to step on my knitting.
Then you lay it out on a clean towel, patting it into shape, and smoothing the stitches. If there's colourwork, this is when the knitting really comes alive. Make sure the edges are straight. Measure it and make sure it will fit. In short, love your knitting.
Stand back and admire your work. It's a beautiful sweater. And I made it.
How cool is that?
Now on to the next one.
This is the swatch for The Bunny Sweater v.2 . It's completely lovely and soft in a completely different way. I'm intrigued to see how this version ends up.
See you soon.