Sometimes, I can't decide if a shortcut is cheating, or if it's actually a new technique in the making. I know a lot of software programmers who have taken tedious, repetitive tasks, and finished them instantly by writing a script to automate it. Is it cheating? Or is it just... a new way to do things?
In my last blogpost, I was struggling with a rolling edge on my current sweater project. I knew that the only way to really get it to settle down would be to wet block the crap out of it. Trouble is, I really couldn't face soaking such a large cardigan and then pinning it all down. It was a long weekend this weekend, so I decided I was going to get it done, come hell or high water.
So, I automated it.
This is a photo what I am going to christen "The Blocking Roll." I took the lower edge of the cardigan and folded it to the inside, then slowly rolled it into one big roll. I then skewered it with a couple of knitting needles.
Then, I draped it over the sink into some soapy water (wool is hydrophobic, and needs a bit of help to get it wet. Soap helps the water to be transported via capillary action into the wool). I let it soak for about 20 minutes. I draped the roll near the heater and let it dry for a few hours...
Then, I unrolled it an laid it out onto the floor with the lower edge folded to the inside of the cardigan. I let it dry overnight. This photo shows it already dry, but it's still folded to the inside of the cardigan.
The next morning, I laid it out flat with the button bands touching and the bottom edge turned back down into the final position. I then sprayed the button band with water and patted it down so that it would lie flat. Each time I walked past that day, I sprayed and patted the button band a bit more. It was a nice, gentle way to block a sweater.
I baked my weekly loaf of bread. The heat from the oven helped the sweater to dry.
Once it was dry, I set about figuring out how to put some buttons on this thing. I was on a work trip this week which resulted in an impromptu trip on one of the local ferry boats. While I was sailing across, I wandered through the gift shop and found another sweater that had an interesting button closure. I stood there, entranced, examining this thing carefully... which is weird if you're not a knitter, but the others totally get it. I didn't want to copy it, but I was inspired...
I went to the inner edge of the button band on the wrong side of the fabric, and I used a crochet hook and slip stitched along that edge. Once I reached a point where I wanted a button loop, I chained 6, slip stitched it back into the same stitch, then continued on with the slip stitches until I got to the next button loop location.
After that, I pulled the loops through to the right side...
After years of sewing buttons on, I've figured out that the best way to make them sit in the centre is to actually sew them off-centre, closer to the inner edge of the button band. The loops are on the opposite inner edge of the band, and they tug the buttons perfectly to the centre. It's nearly invisible... can you see the button loop under the button?
It gives me the option to close the cardigan... if not all the way.
But I think I still like it better left open.
I am super proud of this sweater. It's light and airy, made entirely out of merino/cashmere/nylon sock yarn. I would have never dreamed that I'd knit such a long cardi with such skinny yarn, but I think knitting it in stripes actually helped a lot. Each stripe seemed to make the time pass more quickly, rather than facing endless rows of stockinette stitch.
Still, I think I'm going to work on a smaller project next... I'm due for some instant gratification now...
Except I've chosen a hat knitted with yet more sock yarn with size 2 needles. Yes, I know the definition of insanity. You only wish you were this crazy, baby!