Tuesday, April 5, 2011

the Block Party

For many years now my knitting philosophy has been "off the needles, and around my neck" . . With TWO very pertinent steps missing, basically due to laziness on my part . . . Swatching And Blocking!

Yes, I know I should always do a gauge check but usually I can be flexible enough to adjust my perspective and "accept" the results of my living-on-the-edge knitting adventures. However, I am learning time and again just how good, actually, things look once I have blocked them - like the instructions tell me to do!

So... Let's consider some Blocking tips that will help change things from a quick little knitted so-and-so to a professionally finished garment! first off, you need to gather up a few things to make this endeavor a success, and ultimately a HABIT!

1. A PLACE to block, whether it be your dining room table or an ironing board or even a designated spot on the floor. You will need room to let your knitting bloom and dry... To rest undisturbed so that it's hidden beauty will be revealed.

2. A water source. Will you be doing a complete wet block or a mist and pin option? Different strokes for different folks, but each one has it's appropriate place.  Do you have a sink close by ... or a water bottle that is filled?  Towels to absorb the moisture, a waterproof backing on your work surface??? 

3. Pins. Some people prefer straight pins while others go with T pins. Regardless, make sure they won't rust!

4. The pattern. You are going to need access to the finished measurements provided as part of the pattern instructions. And if you are working on multiple pieces for assembly purposes (sweater front, back, sleeves) you will need the schematic, which is that sketched looking part of the pattern, usually at the end of the pattern itself, with all the numbers on all the different sides of the sketch.  These numbers actually serve a purpose ... i.e, what size each side should be stretched and pinned to in order to properly fit.  [who knew]

5. Something to measure with -a tape measure (though they can stretch out) or finally a practical use for the yard stick that's been sitting in the corner forEVER!

6. A steam iron.

Once you've got these gathered up it's time to start the "process".  I have learned over the years that this is not a QUICK process either ... as in, it's really hard to finish the scarf, spritz, pin and steam it and then think that i really can wear it all the time span of 7 minutes!  I promise that i have, indeed, tried to apply the hairdryer to a scarf or two in hopes of expediting this process .. and i assure you there is nothing comfortable about wrapping a wet scarf around your neck and trying to smile graciously at the same time it is dripping down your shirt collar!

Blocking is really the tell tale sign of a garment well made.  It is the final piece of  the puzzle that characterizes it as "finished" ... and truth be told, i think it also is a sign of confidence in the workmanship - being willing to invest that last little, but so integral, step in order to proudly display and reflect all the time invested. 

Stretching and pulling ... the distortion that seems to occur as one side is penned down while the rest of the garment is waiting .. or curling under .... or drawn up and trying to conform to that which is already penned.  Once again, so much a picture of how things work when God is longing and trying to BLOCK my relationship and love to His will and way.  The events of my day are no coincidence, but rather each serves as a T-Pin that holds a specific point of my life in a designated spot, and then the NEXT occurrence marks as a measurement, and then the NEXT ... and thus the 'randomness' soon resembles the Pattern ... the Schematic numbers make sense as i conform and thus am transformed by the 'renewing of my mind' ... to find that i am more like Him and less like me .....

In quietness (Pin #1 - Spending time alone with Him
and confidence (Pin #2 - Relying on His sufficiency)
is my Strength. 
Isa 30:15.

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us.
As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! 2 Cor. 4:7-11  (The Message)

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