24 March 2014

Proper Tools

Although many of us think about blocking our knits as an afterthought process, it can be surprisingly important to the success of our work. I have to admit that I'm not very good at blocking. Oh, yes, I go through the motions carefully -- I use wires and pins and water and the guest bed and wait patiently for my work to dry. But my results rarely seem to be pleasing.

Part of the menace, I think, has been the blocking wires I've been using. They were budget-priced, and they've performed that way, too. At this point, they are noticeably bent. I am someone who prefers to purchase a tool once and be done with it. Having crappy blocking wires did not bring sunshine to my world.

I have been on a fixing binge this year, so I have done something about it! A big thank you to Jenna the Yarn Pimp at The Whole Nine Yarns who was able to order some items for me from Lacis. I didn't realize when I asked Jenna if she could please get these things that she would have to order more than just the ones I wanted. So at the moment, the shop has these in stock.
Lacis mats, overlay, bronze blocking wires, & circular blocking wires.
I splurged on the big freakin' blocking mat. It has four 2x2 foot foam blocks that interlock to create a 4x4 surface. Of course, you could also line up the blocks to have a 2x8 surface for long scarves and shawls. The 2x2 overlay mat has a grid but also has markings for blocking circles or other shapes worked from the center out. Thus, it should be much easier to block things evenly to size, rather than fumbling with a yardstick on the guest bed.

And since the previous wires displeased me, I also purchased the bronze blocking wires and the circular wires. The bronze wires seem a little stiffer to me, although my needle gauge tells me they are the same diameter as the crappy budget wires. The circular wires come with little plastic tubing so you can block with the wires, or cut and join the ends to display a circular motif as a sun catcher.

A do have a few caveats about these.
1. The mat overlay comes folded. Really, Lacis? Don't store the mat folded. Roll it up with the markings facing outward.
2. The blocking wires do not come in a nice tube or resealable pouch. I did snip only one side of the plastic pouch, so I should be able to store mine back inside it. But it would be nicer if the wires came with a storage tube. A storage tube that would fit the giant overlay and the wires would be ideal.
3. Rust-proof T-pins are not included. I have spares both from my previous set of wires and an extra container I purchased either at the yarn shop or the big box craft store because the budget wires didn't have enough T-pins for what I was doing.

I've already taken the time to re-block two projects -- the White Lotus Shawl and the Sir Thomas Scarf. Both of these are narrow and long, so I used the foam mats and wires but not the overlay mat. The bronze wires performed very well. They stayed straighter and were not bent afterwards. And they are not quite as slick as aluminum, so the stitches did not move along the wire unless encouraged. This made it easy to line things up exactly as desired. The projects also seemed to dry quickly. I don't know if the foam mats wicked away water, or if it is just that we've had very low humidity recently. This set-up is on the expensive side, but definitely worth it both for ease and accuracy.

1 comment:

Betty said...

You enabler, you -- when I read your blog I went right over to WNY and bought the last one!