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i have very little floor space in my flat so blocking large shawls is a bit of an issue. I miss my shop basement so much, but not because damp, cold, leaky, gave me asthma. ANYWAY let me show you how i block shawls, and also how i do it with little space.
So first you grab whatever it is that needs blocking and you dunk it in the sink. i fill a basin with water hot enough to put my hands in and a squirt of fairy liquid. The green one from Lidl is actually my favourite, but Christmas fairy works just fine.
I let the item steep for as long as i remember i have it steeping. (Steep in Scots/Doric means "to soak in," as in steeping a tea bag in boiling water.) I have often left something for a few hours, but I would recommend a minimum time of making a cup of tea and drinking it with a biscuit.
the next step is to get as much water out of the item as possible. Now because i dye yarn and need to get it dry quickly i have an electric spinner. this is like your washing machine, except there is no heat, no paddles just centrifugal force that pushes the item to the sides and forces the water out. I love my baby. I would not recommend putting your item on a spin in the washing machine due to the paddles. I have done this out of need and i really didn't like how undelicate it was with my garment.
If you are a normal person you probably wont have an electric spinner. So first squeeze out as much water as possible being careful not to wring or cause unnecessary friction. Then grab a towel, or towels big enough to roll your item into, like a wee sausage roll. Roll it up and then stand on it. I advise bare feet, the water will come through and soak your socks. You may want to repeat this step a few times just to get it as dry as possible.
Now the last step. pinning the beast. I have a fair collection of foam mats and i use them on top of my carpet to give me something to pin into. before i had these mats i put a few towels down and pinned into those and then my rug. My mats are children's play mats and you can get them everywhere, especially in the supermarkets at summer. mine also look filthy but that's dye that wont come out from when i used them on the floor in the basement.
So for the straight top edge of the shawl i like my blocking wires, If you wanted to add something that wasn't yarn to a gift list i would put these second under the mats. mine are knit pro and they are around £20 for a set and any yarn shop that carries knit pro can probably order you in a set if you ask nicely.
I weave these wires in and out along the top and this gives me a good base to start with. If you don't have wire just pin straight along that edge, pulling to the dimensions you require and putting the pins as close together as possible to keep that edge straight.
Sorry this photo is out of focus but it represents what i want to show you. I start pinning at the centre of the bottom edge of the shawl. now the way you block the edge depends on the shape of your shawl . Mine is a crescent shape with picot edges so i want to keep that circular shape but pull the picots out to give a frilly edge. So i pin at equal intervals around the shawl ensuring i get the rough shape i want and stretching the item to the size i want. Pin wise i have some T pins that came with my blocking wires, but the rest are just plain old stainless steel pins.
once i have my guide pins in along the edge i start pinning every picot bump, pulling them into align with my guide pins, but also moving those guide pins if needed. stretching the shawl as i go. Often patterns will give a finished size of the item so you can block to those measurements. i over block things if they are for myself. no idea why. Once you have the whole thing pinned out you should go have a cuppa because that took forever and you probably shoved some pins in your fingers.
Oh wee tip put your pins in at a 45 degree angle away from your item. like you would a tent peg. these pins get put under tension and having them that way stops them popping out or the item slipping off the pins. You can see that happening in the blurry photo (two above)
So this is it all pinned out and ready to be left alone. Now lets get into the no space issue. This is the most floorspace i have in my flat. its in the middle of the livingroom, you have to walk over it to get to the sofa, the tv, the armchair, my stock. So we have to work with it. And do you know how. TOWELS!!!
So here you can see what my Livingroom usually looks like. I have a dog. he gives no cares for your knitwear on the floor. So i cover the item in towels to protect it and it works. Not even kidding. make sure these are not the towels you used to wring out the item as well we would like this to dry.
This is how my livingroom looks with it in the middle of the floor. the towel also helps as inevitably your pet will sit on your item. its just a given. So really no secret to blocking in a small space. just use the space and hide the item with towels...or a blanket. If you are lucky enough to have a spare bed in the house, do it ontop of that!
Now let me show you the finished shawl