October 25, 2015

The Magic of Blocking

One of my favourite parts of knitting is blocking.  Blocking is a method of stretching and shaping a finished piece to reach the dimensions suggested in the pattern.  It also makes your stitches look and nicer and appear more even. Lace especially needs to be blocked to open up the design to show off all those lovely stitches.  

To demonstrate what I mean have a look at my Playground Shawl by Justyna Lorkowska knit in Caterpillargreen Yarns. This pattern alternates grey garter stitch rows with colour rows, knit in a easy to follow lace pattern.  It looked quite nice prior to blocking but a bit small.


But then I blocked it.  The shawl grew after blocking and the lace just opened up and looked so much more attractive. Have a look:


Here's a few other shawls, that I knit, which really show off the magic of blocking:

Algiers by Kirsten Kapur:


 And finally, Brickless by Martina Behm.


I especially love blocking lace sweaters and cardigans.  I find that when I knit these kind of patterns I often worry that my F.O. is going to be too small.  But after blocking the lace opens up and size is no longer a concern.  For example, look at Lake Effect by Amy Miller:


Look at the difference below!  The lace looked so much better and the size was just what I aiming for.


There are lots of great videos on how to block your knits.  I hope I convinced you to try it out if you have never attempted it before.  You won't be sorry.

I wonder what I can block next?

October 4, 2015

F.O. Mailin in Plucky Knitter Scholar

Did you ever knit a pattern where every moment spent on it was so relaxing and it simply made you happy?  That's what happened when I was knitting this beautiful sweater by Isabell Kraemer called Mailin.  The pattern was well written and easy to follow, and the combination of pattern and yarn just worked out beautifully.  The yarn I chose for this project was the colourway Twill in Plucky Knitter Scholar, a lovely combination of merino (75%) and cashmere (25%). 

Plucky Knitter:  Scholar
Although I had other projects on the go, including two other sweaters, it was this project that I wanted to knit the most.  This pattern was straight forward, which I really appreciated, as my work life was extremely hectic during the time I knit it. Scholar was lovely to work with and I have found that a sweater knit up in this yarn is soft, lofty and warm. Knitting in a worsted weight yarn is so satisfying as you feel like you are making quick progress.  

I used three circular needles to knit the sleeves instead of the suggested dpns. I find that when using dpns my gauge gets much tighter and I have to adjust either the stitches and/or the needle size.  But using three circular needles completely solves the problem and I knit in a gauge that is consistent with the rest of the sweater.

Using circular needles on my sleeves
Instead of using the suggested M1R/M1L increases in the sleeve area I choose to use lifted increases as recommended in the Craftsy video:  Essential Techniques You Should Know by knitting expert Sally Melville.  It is Sally's preferred increase. This video is an excellent resource that I highly recommend…I use it over and over again and I think even the most experienced knitter would discover some helpful tips.

Anyway here is the finished product...I am so pleased with it.  This is one of these sweaters that I am looking forward to snuggling into as the days get cooler.  And I will always remember how knitting this sweater, during one of my busiest times at work, really helped me relax after a long day.  Knitting is magical, don't you agree?