March 04, 2008
A long awaited update: the buffalo are indeed multiplying!
Two completed sleeve caps = two completed sleeves!
Can you tell that the sleeve cap on the left is blocked, but that the one on the right isn't? I really wanted to show you the remarkable difference between the two, but couldn't figure out the very best way to photograph "silky and smooth" compared to "bumpy and rough." Maybe showing you the wrong sides would help?
WARNING: The photo below is not for the weak of heart! It is the wrong side of a sweater with intarsia motifs! There are many strands of yarn and their corresponding ends, and the whole thing is just plain un-pretty!
Do you see the smooth fabric on the left, and the textured mess on the right?
At least you're seeing the back after I wove in the ends. Just try to imagine the fabric before: all kinds of tension issues to be tweaked and lengths of yarn dangling every which way! Weaving in the ends was the first pass at getting everything to look good - a little pull here, a little nudge there, maybe even a duplicate stitch if the situation called for it.
For this particular project I decided that steam blocking was the way to go. I wanted as much control as possible over every little stitch. Dunking the whole thing into a water bath wouldn't allow me to take my time, perfecting every area in turn. Also, after steam blocking the knit pieces are pretty much ready to go - maybe they're just a bit moist, but air-drying overnight takes care of that.
So, I placed the fabric on my ironing board, set my iron heat on "low-ish", my steam on "full blast", and got to work! Holding the iron about 1" above the fabric, I allowed the steam to penetrate a particular area, and then took the iron away. I patted the fabric with my hand to smooth it out, and then used a sock needle to... coerce imperfect stitches into submission (Bwahaha! Also, a little scary!). If it seemed like the fabric wasn't getting moist enough, I misted it with a water bottle. I repeated this process as many times as necessary for everything to look good. Then I placed a thin kitchen towel over the whole thing, and glided my iron over the fabric a few times. Flip to the wrong side, and glide over a few more times.
It's important to remember that exposing wool to steam and heat in actuality felts it! Slow, gentle, and in a controlled fashion, but it's felting nonetheless. And even though felting cannot be undone, the process allows the big bumpy mess to morph into smoothness! Careful... careful... steady does it...
The last thing I want to show you is in the category of "there's more than one way to skin a cat":
I knitted the intarsia on the left, and Cari's mom knitted the intarsia on the right (I wove in ends on both pieces, however). Note how differently we chose to work our intarsia! Cari's mom, a true intarsia-holic, did not hesitate to use a gazillion little bobbins, seemingly one for every little patch of color. I, on the other hand, tried to strand the yarns whenever possible! Limit the strands, limit the ends!