Wednesday, September 21


I guess I'll start with the prep steps for blocking.  You see, I have never had to block anything before.  For those of you who are reading this because I'm writing it rather than because you are actually interested in these crafts, blocking is the process of pinning a piece of fabric, either wet or damp, so that it dries in the desired size and shape.  Since I have mostly done scarves and socks, I have never even gotten a blocking board.  With the afghan I am working on, I wanted to make sure all the blocks were square and the same size, hence the need for blocking.  I didn't really like the current blocking boards available, so I decided to make my own.  I know, how weird do you have to be, right?

Well, there were a few characteristics that I really wanted that were not commercially available.  I wanted a board that would not adsorb water that might warp it or would have to evaporate back through the fabric.  It had to be soft enough to use straight pins, firm enough to hold its shape against the tension of the fabric, and light enough to move about easily.  My final requirement was that it possess a one-inch grid so that I did not have to get out a ruler and square every time I wanted to block something.  With these thoughts in mind, I went shopping.  I found  children's foam playmats very inexpensively online.  They fit the majority of my requirements.  The only thing lacking was the grid, but I figured I could do that myself.
These tools made it possible: a large square, a straight edge, ultra fine point permanent marker. I tried to use just the pens and the lines that are naturally on the mat.  Let me tell you, the lines are not straight.  So, the first block has a few slightly curved lines.  I still don't know what I'm going to do about that one.  So I grabbed a meter stick for straight lines and a square to make sure I made squares rather than parallelograms (crooked squares for those who took geometry as long ago as I did) and a few hours produced this.
So, now I had a grid.  Exactly 1" squares all over.  Then came the less labor intensive, but more time consuming process of actually blocking.  I could fit 4, 7" squares on each of my new blocking boards.  Since I was doing wet blocking, I would set each square in water before pinning it to the board.  Some of them took more work than others to make fit the 7" ideal, but I did eventually get all of them blocked.  I blocked them in batches letting each set dry roughly 12 hours.  Some of them took longer.  If I touched one and it wasn't dry, I left them to dry until I checked them another 12 hours later.

My next post should include joining the squares and maybe I'll be able to report progress on my socks.

Saturday, September 10

Busy, Busy, Busy

So much has been happening this last week.  Blocking, winding, knitting, cooking, where to start?

Lets start with the blocking.  This was my first time blocking.  I wound up making my own blocking boards, which I will cover in more detail in a later post.  Since I am blocking wool, I decided to do wet blocking.  For those who are reading this because I write it rather than because you are actually interested in all this craft stuff, blocking is when you pin a damp or wet piece of fabric so that it dries to a specific shape and size.  It took about one week for me to block all 52 squares once I finished the blocking boards.  The next step is to lay the blocks out to decide how to arrange them in the final afghan.

Since blocking is not very labor intensive (set and walk away), I found time to finish the first ball of yarn for my socks and wind the second ball for each.  The winding process being greatly facilitated by my mother's willingness to act as a human swift.  For some perspective, this is what 618 yards of yarn look like a balls (309 each).

This is what 618 yards of yarn looks like as socks.

I am very glad I decided to invest in a yarn ball winder.  This making 3 balls of yarn I've wound on it, each yard cost roughly $0.02 at this point.  Having wound more than a few by hand before I got it, I think it was worth every penny.  A simple yarn swift may be one of my next investments.

Our garden has also been busy producing lots of fresh vegetables.  I must admit, a good number of those veggies don't even make it into the house.  A cherry tomato still warm from the sun and fabulously sweet is one of my favorite things about having a garden.  This year, we are growing pumpkins for the first time.  So, it is our first time trying make pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin or roasted pumpkin seeds.  The pie was my sister's domain, the seeds were mine.  The pies came out delicious.  The seeds took a little more trial and error.  For example, if you are doing seeds in the oven, a little oil goes a long way.

I guess that does it for this week.  Until next time!