Sunday, February 12, 2012

Blocking things that aren't regular polygons

There are a ga-ba-zillion tutorials on how to block lace using pins and wires, but I find that these are really only helpful is you worked something that is basically a regular polygon--a triangle, a rectangle, a square.  A few months back, I knit Herbert Niebling's Lyra, which is the most beautiful and most frustrating thing I have made to date.  Niebling uses different notation for stitches than the common practice nowadays (probably because he drew the picture he wanted, then wrote out how to make it happen), and his patterns are in reprints by a company that doesn't really seem to care about the quality of the paper and ink they use, making things like distinguishing bold lines from regular lines nigh on impossible.

But it was totally worth every minute.  I knit the circular version of this lace monster, and  since I needed to wash it, I also needed to re-block it.

So, without further ado, blocking irregular shapes:
What you need--T pins (hundreds of them), towels, a measuring tape, and an hour or so.

First, pin the center.  You need to anchor it.
Next pin the point farthest from the center (1)--Because this is a circular-ish piece, I pin several of the loops at 12 and 6 o'clock, then 3 and 9 o'clock, and repeat this pattern on the diagonals (2).  At this point, you should measure to make sure your piece is larger than the furniture it will cover.  The next points pinned are the two loops at the tips of the tulips, once again pinning the loops on opposite sides of the piece to ensure even tension (3).  Here, we remeasure.  The top of the tulip is the smallest diameter measurement, and needs to be slightly larger than your furniture, even if it's just by an inch or so (which mine usually is.  I have a large round table this covers)

Pin points 1-3
The next thing we're going to pin are the fans between the leaves and the tulips--we pin the center of each fan so that they are all even (4), then we pin down to the top of the tulip (5), and back to the leaf (6).  The ensures an even arch, giving every fan the exact same high point.

 The final pinning is the remaining loops between (2) and (6)  We pin these last because it's easiest to make them look pretty when everything else is already appropriately stretched and pinned, and also because we're going to take advantage of section (6) Pin down the sides(7), starting at (2) and working towards (6). You'll notice at the bottom that there's an extra loop with nowhere to left to really put a T-pin.  Use the same pin as its neighboring loop (2 loops stretched on 1 pin).

See the overlap in my poorly drawn brackets? That's the pin with 2 loops

And that's the gist of it.  You can apply the same principles to almost any irregular shape or one with tons and tons of loops.  Pin similar things as a group, measure a lot, and pin apexes of arches before you pin the arch itself.

I hope this was helpful--I've been digging malware of my computer all weekend, so I haven't been knitting. (Rootkits are evil.  The last one I picked up hid all my files and told me my computer was about to burst into flames.  This one was just annoying and rerouted all my google searches, and prevented me from accessing blogger and related google sites.  Also it ate up my CPUs. What's really amazing about them is the amount of effort people put into making them look like legitimate programs.  They're trying to con you out of money, and some of these people are darned good at it. Fortunately many of the anti-virus companies are willing to let you use their "fix your computer" software, hoping that you will purchase protection from them afterwards.)

I realized that I wasn't slipping the stitches on my sweater's bottom band about 18 inches in (It makes a difference.  I can now say with total authority that they were slipped on the sample pictured in the magazine, and that it is absent from the directions.  Also, Chart A is wrong, but my brain fixed it automatically on the cuffs, so I didn't even notice until I screwed up the longer band).  I've had to rip it all back start over. Lesson learned.

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