Friday, December 3, 2010

How to block a knitted item

Blocking an item is quite simple and can help hide slight flaws.  Blocking means to steam and iron at the same time.  It will flatten, help the item stay in shape, help the sides stay straight, and give your knitting a polished appearance. I crochet edging on almost everything I knit, so when I block it, the open work on the edges shows up nicely.  Sometimes if the scarf is textured on the knitting part, I won't block that, but I will block the outer edges.  Caution:  Some yarns (& fabrics) may not  be suitable for blocking as the high heat will melt the synthetic fibers.  I take great care with ribbon, blocking very slowly as I go along.  But natural fibers are excellent.

Items to block, scarves, shawls, ponchos, afghans......even wool skirts, wool coats.... with a little creativity even some hats.

Depending on the size of the item, my ironing board, or a towel spread out on a table works fine. If your working on a good table, double the towel to protect your top.

I keep a peice of muslin to use, but have been known to use a clean cotton pillow case.  With my iron set on it's highest steam setting, I spread out the item, trying to get it in the correct shape and size. I thourougly wet the muslin and wring it out. Now I place the damp muslin over over the item, being sure the item is still properly placed. Next, placing the iron carefully onto the muslin, I steam the area, do not "iron" in a back and forth motion, place iron, pick up iron, move to the next area, place iron, pick up iron, and so on. Checking under the muslin on my scarf from time to time.

The muslin may dry out, throughly wet, wring out and move on. When I'm finished with blocking, I may have to re-do a section or two.

I hang my completed scarf to fully dry.      

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Christmas Story

Ah, Christmas.........what to get whom, color, size, gets to be too much.  When you're a knitter, planning has to take place months in advance. 

My late father-in-law was always someone that took a lot of musing over what sort of present would be appropriate.  Many years, I got some very strange looks, when his presents were opened.  Like the year we gave him a hose.  Yes, I said a hose.  He owned a used car lot, and never could keep hoses in working order.  They'd get run over, chewed by his dog, whatever, they were always ratty, never had an end to attach a sprayer. So, being a very practical person, what else could I give him?  He had that hose until the day he closed his lot, then took it home to use.

When he started getting ill and could no longer work, I had a bigger challenge.  What to do?   My mind raced...... he wasn't a reader, we'd gotten him all the John Wayne movies he could watch, of course the infamous hose........what was left?

That Christmas morning, I admit, I was a little nervous over what I had chosen. Presents were passed around, and I waited with baited breath for him to tear open the pretty paper.  Everyone stopped.....waited.....watched.....He was looking down at the sky blue afghan nestled in the wrapping.  I was watching his face for his reaction.  The tears came.  He pulled that simple afghan out of the remaining paper, and hugged it to his chest. "No one has knitted me something since my Grandmother". 

I'll always remember how he looked, sitting in his recliner that morning, covered from chest to foot, with his new Christmas afghan. And the larger than life hug I got.

Merry Christmas, Big Guy, and thanks for the memories

Done with Christmas Knitting

I'm pretty sure that I'm done with my power knitting for Christmas!  Yeah!  In the last 6 weeks, I've made 6 hats, 1 scarf, 1 pr of slippers, 2 men's hoods........ Actually, I've lost track.

My family has been receiving homemade items from me for many years.
I don't live close to my niece and nephews, so when I make them something to wear, or an afghan, or a doll, I hope they feel closer to me. About 2 years ago my oldest nephew and his future wife stayed with us for a couple of days.  He asked if he could use the washer and dryer.  As I was standing with him putting detergent in the washer, he held up a blue afghan I had made for him years earlier.  "Do you remember this?"  he asked.  Boy, did I.  It was a present for his first year in college. Serendipity, that year I had made an afghan for his intended, white, black and red.  She was so surprised, as those were her colors.  Really, I had no idea.

This year my niece asked me to make her a sock monkey.  I was so thrilled that she asked. She'll never know how many people were involved in finding those socks!  Of course, Auntie won't just send the monkey, Oh no, Auntie has plans for at least 2 outfits.

Writing this, I'm filled with remembrance.  The doll I sewed for an elderly neighbor, she was buried with it.  The 1st hat I made for Aunt Rosie, she wore it for years, white angora with a flower on the side.  The doll with the turquoise dress I sewed for an auction at my nephews school, my mother bought it, it sits on her bed.  My older sister "keeps for good" the Christening blanket I made for her son. 

So, I hope, long after I'm gone, my niece and nephews will look at the items I've made for them over the years, smile, and remember the laughing lady that knits.