The lovely (as well as irritating) thing about the written word is that you don’t get tone of voice. So…is that “ah” a scream of frustration? rage? or a sigh of contentment? Yes–all of the above. Vacations are wonderful things–once I get there. However, the getting there can be a bit…much. I committed to writing once a week, but I didn’t commit to which day. I’ve been super good about getting something out on Mondays, but as you can tell, I missed this Monday. Because I was getting ready for our annual jaunt to Mexico. Which leads me to today’s post.
The topic will likely elicit a similar scream from you, Dear Reader. We are going to be talking about (dun dun duuuun) blocking. Blocking is the act of wetting a piece of fabric (knit, crocheted, woven, etc…), pinning it into shape and letting it dry. There are many different schools of thought on blocking. My position on blocking is an ever evolving one.
Monday night, instead of writing to you, I was blocking a present for one of my many (many) aunts. I love that my shawls look like birds. You may or may not be able to tell that I just do this on my living room carpet. I use thin rods and a whole bunch of T-pins. A. Whole. Bunch. Seriously, there is no such thing as too many T-pins. If you ask yourself “should I put a pin here?” the answer is yes.
The left side of the shawl is showing the beginnings of blocking. See how far I stretched out the top? You can also see the lack of definition on the scallops of the lace. Then, I pull the lace out. I make sure to pull the yarn as far as it will go. I catch each of the points in the rod to make strong, consistent points for the finish.
Some people block pieces of projects to help make them consistent in size. A myriad of flaws can be hidden in the blocking. The problem with this, though, is that if there is a lot of difference to make up, it will come out in the wash. After washing, they’ll return to their original sizes. And then, you will have a mess. So, blocking only goes so far in this manner.
Shawls are, so far, my only approved use of blocking. As you can see, the side that isn’t blocked is kind of a mess. You can’t see any of the definition that makes the piece beautiful. You may not even be able to see the full potential. It takes stretching the piece beyond what you think is possible to bring out its full glory, like the featured image. There is, however, always the possibility of going too far. But, I maintain it was going to break anyway, and it’s best to know now than when I’ve come to depend on it. Besides, if it’s never blocked, it never has a chance of being what it’s supposed to be.
Many things have to go through a similar process. We temper steel to make it stronger. Similarly, the delicate lace is only truly able to shine once it has shown how very, very strong it had to be. Even the “failed” shawl will shine. Maybe in a different form (definitely in a different form–I REALLY hated that pattern), but it WILL shine.
Blocking can teach us so many things: True beauty often comes after testing. We can often handle more than we think. We need to be aware that while we can try to fit with something not meant for us, eventually, we will come back to ourselves. Finally, we have to remember just because we weren’t meant for something doesn’t mean we aren’t meant for something else. So, don’t be afraid to stretch!