I love lace. And I love seeing a wad of lace turn into an open, airy, light fabric. But I hate the process of actually doing it. Blocking is my least favorite thing about knitting.
I don’t get the fear of lace knitting. I really don’t understand the fear of anything when it comes to fiber arts. The worst that could happen is you mess up and have to start all over again. Is that really something to be afraid of? I’ll restart projects just because I made one mistake too many. I guess the reason lace seems more intimidating is that it’s harder to fix if you drop something, but that’s what lifelines are for. (Hell, I’ll use a lifeline in a stockinette piece, I have no shame.)
But lace is just increases and decreases. There’s nothing inherently hard about it. It’s when you have to soak it, stretch it, and sit on the floor tediously pushing pins into every blessed frickity-fracking point of it, that you want to just throw it across the room.
I think the whole blocking thing is why I actually prefer making socks to things like shawls and scarves. Socks don’t really need that kind of treatment, even the lacy ones. Sure, they can be blocked, but the only reason I can think of to do so is to be able to take nice, artistic photos. Even gift socks I usually don’t bother with. I just flatten them out as best I can, roll them up with a pretty ribbon, and figure that once the recipient puts them on, they’ll look as good as they’re ever going to.
I had two pieces to block the other day. One of them was a baktus I had just bound off, the other a beautiful, intricate two-color Romi Hill design that I’d finished so long ago I could have gestated another human in the interim. I figured I would do them both at once and get them out of the way, and then I’d go back to socks and not have to worry about godforsaken T-pins for a good long while.
However, the size of my blocking mat (a cardboard cutting mat from Hancock Fabrics that I covered with clear contact paper), not to mention a shortage of pins, precluded my being able to block both items at once. The board is about 25 square feet, and I have at least 100 T-pins (along with about 150 regular straight pins), and the baktus is fairly compact and simple shape. The Kleio was not going to fit at the same time, and overlapping the two was a terrible idea, as I learned when I had to pry a T-pin open with pliers.
So I had to pin it dry and spritz it, which wasn’t an entirely horrible ordeal – and in fact gave me a much-needed break from crouching over on the floor – but given its odd, crescent shape, the 300-something-point picot bind off, and the fact that I don’t own blocking wires (although I was able to sort of make do with a 60″ fixed circular sock needle), it’s kind of put me off making intricate lace shawls. Which is unfortunate, since I bought the 8-pattern shawl book that Kleio came from.
After I had pulled the last pin and put away the board, I of course started on a pair of socks. And then, because apparently I never learn, another scarf – lace, fingering weight. The blocking blues are self-inflicted.