shawls

Washing & Blocking Shawls - Part two

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Righto, so you've followed part one - soaked your shawl and rolled it in a towel - now what? Blocking. That's what. 

Pinning out a shawl is a slow business. I often take between 30 minutes and an hour to pin out a shawl.

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1. Find a space to lay out your shawl and grab your tools. Then stretch your shawl firmly but gently along the whole top edge (especially the centre) to stretch it out as much as possible.

I like to block my shawls on the floor so I can spread them right out, crawl around and view them easily from above. There are lots of things you could use to spread your shawl out on. I use a large wool blanket and pin through that into the carpet. If you have wooden floors you'll probably want to invest in some foam pads. You can buy blocking mats although some people make do with yoga mats and kids foam puzzles. 

I have recently started using blocking wires and I absolutely love them. I was a bit daunted until I tried them and realised how simple they were to use and how much easier it made things. At the very least I recommend T pins. They're strong and long and perfect for holding your shawl in place while it dries. You can use them on their own or together with wires.

My blocking wires are made by Lazadas. I've got a set of long blocking wires (which came with some pins).

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2. If you're using blocking wires - thread your wire through the stitches along the bottom of your shawl or the picot points if it has some. It takes a while but it's worth it.

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3. If your shawl is wide or your wires are short, use extra wires and overlap them where they meet for a few stitches. I tend to use two long wires for my shawls.

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4. Lay your shawl out in roughly in the shape you're aiming for. You'll see that I've blocked crescent shawls in my photos. Notice that the top edge curves upwards. It may look like your shawl has a lump in the middle when you're knitting it but that lump can be flattened right out and curve upwards on itself. This will make the wingspan of your shawl wider and your shawl easier to wear.

If you're blocking a triangular shawl the top edge will (mostly) lie flat. But, sometimes triangular shawls will also curl up at the ends too (like my Southern Shawl) - it all depends on the way it's been increased along the edges of your knitting. Lots of edge increases correlate to more steeply curved ends. Play around with your shawl and see how it wants to spread out.

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5. I usually start pinning at one corner, pulling the lace open. As you pull the border downwards and work your way around the shawl your top edge will tighten. You can keep gently but firmly stretching that top edge as you pin to get more length into your shawl. I usually end up re-pinning lots of times as I get the shape of the shawl just right. 

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6. Sometimes I pin the top edge temporarily while I'm stretching and pinning the border out but I take those top edge pins out once I get going because the top edge will lie well without pins. It helps to get the corners pinned and then go back and readjust along the border.

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7. Crescent shawls want to scoop inwards and around at the ends into a horseshoe shape. Some (like my Antipodes Shawl) scoop around almost full circle. Play around and see what curve your shawl wants to adopt. I spend a lot of time fiddling with my pins as I go, pinning and repining to get the lace open and the shawl curved.

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8. You might like to experiment with how you block the border edge. Sometimes the pattern wants to fall into little points.

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9. Blocking wires make it easier to create curved edges on your shawls and they also make blocking picot points a breeze.

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10. I try to get my shawls symmetrical if they're designed that way but it can be super tricky to get them exactly right.

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11. Once finished, your shawl may feel a little like a trampoline - tightly stretched. That's how I like mine. A shawl that is blocked tightly in a scooping curve with the top edge stretched, the border opened right out and and the ends curling inwards will drape beautifully. I love a well blocked shawl that falls into gorgeous spirals at the ends when it's worn.

Leave your shawl to dry for a day or so. Then, unpin it, throw it around your neck and ENJOY!

If you still want more information and details, I talk at length about how I block my shawls on my podcast if you fancy watching that too.

Washing & Blocking Shawls - Part 1

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It wasn't long ago that blocking was a complete mystery to me. I finished my knitting, admired my handwork and that was that. Nothing was soaked or washed until it was dirty some time later. These days, after learning a little about blocking and trying it myself, I'm a complete convert. Blocking is nothing short of magic - especially when it comes to shawls and lace. 

Recently, I've been noticing some degree of panic amongst many knitters when the word "blocking" is mentioned. Trust me, it's not tricky. There are a few tools that make it easier to block a shawl and some shapes that you're shooting for when you're laying it out, but overall the whole thing is not difficult and actually quite pleasant.

To help you make sense of blocking I thought I'd show you you what I do with my shawls once they're off my needles. Because it's a long process I've split it into two parts - soaking, then blocking - but I do one straight after the other while my shawls are still wet. 

Before I begin I have to say that like knitting, there is truly no one "right" way to block your shawls. I've worked out a way that I like through trial and error. If you have any tips or tricks that you've found useful I'd love to hear them and please feel free to fiddle and experiment until you find a method that suits you.

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1. Soak your knitting. I use very warm water and a splash of wool wash. Fill a bucket or sink, pop in your shawl, dunk it under the water and leave it to soak for about 15 to 20 minutes. If you're soaking more than one be mindful that darker dyes may run a little and it might be better to soak these separately. If you're using a wool wash that requires rinsing, briefly soak again in clean water. Take care not to change the temperature of your rinsing water too drastically or you might felt or shrink your wool. (I weave in my ends after blocking.)

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2. Gently squeeze the water from your shawls. Don't wring them, just squeeze between your hands until the worst is out. 

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3. Lay your shawl flat on a big bath towel and roll the towel from end to end.

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4. This part is fun - walk up and down on your sausage roll towel. You might find that other people like doing this job for you. Giving your towel a good kneading will get most of the water out of your knitting.

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5. Unroll your shawl from the towel and get your blocking surface ready. 

Ready to block your shawl? Head over to part two to read how I do it.


How To Knit A KYOK (knit, yarn over, knit) - Tutorial

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My new shawl design will be published next week and I'm pleased to bring you a tutorial showing you how to knit one of the stitches used to increase the edge of your shawl - a KYOK (knit, yo, knit).

As usual, I'll include a link to this tutorial in my pattern and update my other patterns that use this stitch too.

Happy knitting :)

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The Mindful Shawl has been published!

Mindful Shawl by Libby Jonson - Truly Myrtle Designs

It's a fantastic feeling to publish a pattern. Lots of energy and hard work goes into creating it and getting it just right and it's exciting to release it into the world.

I'm left with a real feeling of satisfaction after publishing my Mindful Shawl pattern. I was so inspired by the colours of this yarn to make something with dramatic and at the same time I was relishing the idea of a design that would fire up my brain and I could get my teeth into.

Mindful Shawl by Libby Jonson - Truly Myrtle Designs

I think I've managed to do both with this design. I love the striking lace patterns that flow one into the other. They have a symmetry and rhythm to them which keeps your hands eager to keep going and your mind engaged.

Mindful Shawl by Libby Jonson - Truly Myrtle Designs

The border and bind off just finish it all off don't they? The last section of lace is a relaxing knit. A simple repeat that you'll remember in no time and it's easy to read in your knitting so that means you'll be able to knit for longer without glancing at your pattern.

I'm super pleased with the picot bind off. The points are emphasised beautifully with a good blocking. I found using my blocking wires worked wonderfully to pull each tip out fully.

Mindful Shawl by Libby Jonson - Truly Myrtle Designs

This is how I will mostly wear my Mindful Shawl. Flung around my neck to keep me toasty and jazzing up my outfit at the same time. I love the versatility of crescent shawls. They're so fabulously wearable.

If you're interested in knitting a Mindful Shawl for yourself, it's available to purchase in my Ravelry shop now.

Happy knitting!!


Antipodes Shawl Has Been Published!

Antipodes - A Truly Myrtle Design

Yippee! I've just published my Antipodes shawl on Ravelry! 

It's been professionally edited and my lovely test knitters have knitted it - so it's ready to go.

Antipodes - A Truly Myrtle Design

It's such a fun shawl - a long narrow crescent that wraps twice around your neck. The pretty lace is knitted at the same time as the garter stitch body and is a simple repeat that is easy to master.

My fingering yarn is a luscious blend of merino and silk but any fingering will do. The loose gauge gives the shawl great drape and it blocks out beautifully.

I've included instructions on how to make your shawl longer or shorter and if you've got a little less yarn than I've called for (360 - 400 metres) there are also directions to make sure you use every inch of your yarn without running out.

Antipodes - A Truly Myrtle Design

You can purchase Antipodes in my Ravelry store or by clicking the link on my sidebar. I can't wait to see what you create with the pattern.

Thank you so much to my fantastic tech editor and my very fabulous test knitters! X

Enjoy!