Thursday, 11 April 2019

Blocking knitting

is one of those nightmare tasks that needs to be done - at least where fine lace is concerned.
I spent several hours yesterday helping someone else block the wedding veil/shawl she has made for her daughter. This woman has done a great deal of lace knitting in her life but it has all been in fine cotton. This was the first time she had ever made anything lace in wool. 
That would have been hard enough in itself but this is done in the finest wool imaginable. It is called "cobweb" weight and it does seem like that. It is the yarn used to knit traditional Shetland wedding ring shawls - yes, the sort which are so fine you can actually pull them through a wedding ring. We did, very cautiously, pull the present through her wedding ring. It worked.
The pattern is also one of the most complex modern day patterns that has ever been written. Not many people have tried it and finished it.
I wondered if it would happen. B... (who knitted it) had many moments of self-doubt. I had many emails from the other side of the state as she worked her way slowly through it. The knitting has taken her six months and, we estimated around 550-600 hours. It is a testament to how much she loves her daughter and how close they are.
I met her daughter for the first time yesterday. She gets married next week.
We had to block the shawl in the flat she has been staying in, away from all animals. She had been scouring the white goods suppliers for the sheets of polystyrene I had suggested using. They needed to be clean, flat, big - very big. 
Neither of them had ever done anything like this before. I have but it isn't something I have enjoyed doing. I had warned them it would take some time. It did. It took us nearly four hours - and that was three of us working together. They had wrapped the knitting in a damp towel. We unfolded it carefully and slowly, very slowly pulled it out the polystyrene boards B... and I had marked to shape and size with slightly thicker cotton thread. We measured and measured and measured so that everything was even.
B... and I found some mistakes but I doubt other people will see them. There was one place where a stitch had been dropped and needed to be fixed. B....did that tensely, her eyes screwed up trying to see almost white on stark white. (We didn't dare unpin anything at that point!) There were hundreds of fine lace pins holding the slightly damp knitting we had stretched gently into place.
When we had finished B.... burst into tears and said, "I never thought I'd do it!"
I decided it was time to leave and, while B... was being hugged by her daughter, I gave her daughter a little wave and slipped out. Her daughter will be living on the other side of the world. The two of them need some time together.
B... has promised me a picture of S.... wearing her shawl. That's thanks enough.


Jan said...

An accompli

Jan said...

An accomplishment indeed. A labour of love. A friend made something similar for her daughter. The biggest thing I have blocked was a Zimmermann pi shawl which covered a queensize bed when it dried. With just one working on it, it took a very long time and i was stiff and exhaustedwhen it was finished.

What a lovely thing to have to hand down the family.

Jodiebodie said...

That's astounding! Very special indeed. Those words do not seem sufficient to describe such a technical knitting achievement and precious mother:daughter bond.
You have taught me one thing and that is to make sure the blocking board surface is a contrasting colour to the item being blocked.
Congratulations on your friend's perserverance, determination and successful product with lovely help from your advice and assistance rendered.
I'm seriously impressed with a shawl that can truly pass through a wedding ring.
Again, astounded!