Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Improvised Blocking Solution; A Chunky Rickenbacker

It's cold here; I suspect you already know that. Until recently, I didn't even know what a Polar Vortex was. Now, apparently, I live in one.

Last fall I taught at class at Shall We Knit on the Rickenbacker shawl. In a class like that, I like to work along with my students on the project. And it happened to be the weekend that the infamous Shall We Knit "closet" was open. The closet is their sale room. It's only open for one weekend a month, and you can never be sure what you'll find in there. They are always putting new and interesting stuff in there: it's often ends of lines, or discontinued yarns or colourways, or bits and pieces from the back catalogue.

Now, it's not like I need more yarn, but sometimes I can't resist a bargain. I got myself 5 balls of "Freedom Purity" - a discontinued Chunky weight wool and alpaca blend yarn. They were asking the princely sum of $4 a ball. How could I say no? 80yds per 50gm ball, I figured that 400yds would give me a decent size shawl.

My excuse to myself was that if I working the class sample in a chunkier yarn would make it easier for my students to see what I was doing.

I've been working on it, on and off, since then... and I decided, given the weather, that it would probably be to my benefit to finish it up. So I took it with me on our trip to NYC for Vogue Knitting.

Here we are, very early last Thursday morning at the airport. God bless Porter and their coffee machine.

I worked on it on the plane, binding off the last stitch as we trundled up to the gate at Newark Airport.

That first day, I wore it around town, ends a-dangling, unblocked.

When we got back to the hotel that evening, I soaked it in the sink for a bit. I should have taken a picture of the sink - the dye ran, and turned the contents of the sink a very dark grey.

I rolled it in a towel to wring it out, and the dye left nasty stains on the towel. I hope the hotel staff were able to get it clean...

I considered pinning it out, but didn't have any pins... and I was afraid it would stain the carpet. So I improvised: two clothes hangers, in the shower. I'd got most of the moisture out anyway, with the towel, so it wasn't very heavy. It dried overnight, and looked terrific.

(Want to know more about blocking? Check out my Craftsy class on this topic!)

We tried to get a good photo of it, but with it being a dark colour, and me wearing dark colours, it wasn't really showing up. 

Here's the finished thing, with an existing fingering weight version for comparison.

You'll see that the edges aren't straight, due to my stellar blocking technique. However, it still looks great and wears nicely. (Oh yeah, and I haven't woven all the ends in yet, either.)

400yds of a chunky weight (approx 13 sts 4 inches on 6mm needles) has given a shawl about 30 inches at it deepest point by about 65 inches wide. Snuggly!

Update: The clever ladies of Shall We Knit propose Cascade 128 Superwash as a terrific substitute for the Purity yarn. Similar texture, same weight, and a great range of colors. Also, not discontinued, which is really the most important bit!


Maryjean said...

It looks just perfect for the polar vortex!

Catherine said...

Although I actually have some indigo dragon fly in my stash I love the shawl in chunky weight. Might even make me wish for a bit of polar vortex instead of the fake winter we are having in the UK!

Anonymous said...

I scooped up the last bit of Purity that the lovely SWK ladies had left laying about...you enabler, you!

So I will be copying your brilliant idea quite soon.