Almost every author/knitter I’ve ever read ‘fesses up to a fear of blocking at some point in their knitting life. I’m definitely the same way. I understand how fiber acts when it’s on the needles – some yarns are loose, some tight, some shed. some don’t. But blocking exists in the no-man’s land between work-in-progress and finished garment. It’s right there in that stretch of impatience, when I can see that I’m aaaalmost done (finally!) but starting to get a bit nervous that I didn’t knit the pattern correctly and it’s going to turn out all wrong.
Enter the Big Montana Tunic (from IK Fall 2009), which I’ve had on my list of things I would love to make and wear since last year. I alloted the Cascade 128 Superwash in Lemon, one of my recent yarn conquests, to this project, to be made just for me and no one else. I stalked the pattern on Ravelry, reading what others had to say about negative ease and finding the right gauge. I swatched like crazy. I knitted the gorgeous thing all the way up to the shoulders, then bound off. The directions told me that to ease the curl of the fabric at the shoulders, I should…. block.
My biggest fear was of shrinking my already-negative tunic. I haven’t worked with wool much, but I know wool shrinks, right? Well… sometimes. If the first thing I had done was to look up the description of the Cascade Superwash yarn online, I would have discovered that it’s even listed as machine washable (in cold water). If the makers think a machine won’t screw it up, how likely am I to do a poor job?
I nervously looked up blocking instead – specifically, wool blocking. The primer on knitty.com seemed to indicate that it wasn’t all that hard. The main advantages were that it would relax the fibers, getting rid of the dreaded curl, making for easy shoulder seaming and a better fit. I followed the author’s advice to the letter. I turned my iron on to the wool setting. I laid out my curly, unfinished tunic:
Then I took a damp cotton cloth and pressed it into the knitting, smoothing down the curl:
I ironed only on top of the cotton cloth, never directly touching the wool with the source of heat. I moved the cloth over the various edges of the fabric, ironing until the water in the cotton evaporated. I decided to block the lace panel down the center front and back as well, for good measure:
And finally, I had a lovely, non-shrunken, relaxed fabric that smelled a little bit like wet dog!
I have one WIP photo of me in the tunic, but I haven’t happened to get a photo of me in it now that it’s finished. I am absolutely nuts about it, though. The fit is perfect – all that yarn and pattern recon made for the best fitting garment I’ve created to date! I’ll be sure to edit this post and put in a picture of the final product as soon as I remember to take one. It shouldn’t be that hard; I wear it like every other day.
My own notes on the pattern can be found on my ravelry.com profile – I’m on the site as La Luna Unita.