I have finished Julia’s cardigan – when I say finished I mean I’ve finished knitting the dratted thing. I still have to block, sew up the cardigan and then learn how to crochet so that I can cover 12 “self cover buttons” before next Wednesday…I feel that the crochet may be unlikely so have not splashed out on buttons just in case I ended up wandering around John Lewis on Tuesday lunchtime looking for something that will “do”
I don’t feel particularly proud of the fact that it has taken me 10 months to do something that should have taken me two. But in my defence there has been a lot of knitting involved, mainly because I kept frogging it and reknitting it to try and get the stitches to look even…I even tried knitting it flat on circs, just in case that made a difference (it didn’t). It wasn’t until I finally knitted a swatch and did some test knitting and blocking that I realised that the problem was the yarn itself, it had a natural kink in it which made my stitches look lumpy.
Now I am not known for my finishing ability. Laziness lets me down, my seams are not as good as they can be and if I’m honest until about 6 months ago “blocking” was something you did in the theatre when working out a scene in rehersals…I rarely even bothered to press a seam before sewing up. But I can’t send this cardigan out looking so obviously home made. The problem with this cardigan is that the instructions clearly say “don’t block”. The USP of this cardigan is that the ridges of rib (it looks a bit like a folded up fan or a concertina) expand to fit most bodies.
If I block this cardigan then it’s not going to be stretchy and although the knitting will look lovely and even, the cardigan is going to be big and baggy and not fit.
So what I needed was some way of giving it a bit of gentle stretch, enough to unkink it slightly but not enough to stretch it…this was going to involve a lot of pins…so yesterday evening I carried out some experiments with blocking wires…not that I have blocking wires, what I actually have is some plastic coated fine garden wires and some 2-pinned pins (think large staples)…I also have a scarf (purple haze) a shawl (the Lilly Chinn) needing a bit of washing/blocking and a spare left front (knitted originally for fitting purposes and never unravelled…for reasons that are too dull to explain).
So all 3 items were left to soak in a bath of tepid water for 2 hours with some handwash detergent – one of them was filthy, judging on the sediment left behind (probably the cardigan as the wool had been in the loft for over 10 years) – I then blotted them all dry on towels. Purple haze has been pinned as normal, Lilly chinn has been threaded with blocking wires and the spare left front to Julia’s cardigan has been tightly blocked lengthways at the bottom, tightly pinned with a widthways stretch at the top and left to its own devices in the middle…
At some point this evening I will pluck up the courage to check the spare bedroom to see whether it’s worked – if not then I’m running out of ideas…frogging the lot and pre-stretching the wool to get the kink out before I knit it is not an option, not if I want to deliver it next wednesday.
[note – the yarn was new and unused and was a Rowan discontinued line called Donegal Lights – I haven’t been able to find any finished items on Ravelry so I have no idea if this is a common problem or not]