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Friday, February 11, 2005

Even though I’m a dirty rotten cheater and have been playing with my FixIT project, I’ve been knitting my Cordovan Ribby on the #66. I’ve finished the Back, the Sleeves, and most of the Right Front.


Because I’m in a Finish-As-You-Go kind of mood lately, I’ve taken ye olde Steam Iron and blocked out the pieces.

STEAM IRON? Yes! I first read about doing this in the back of one of my Rowan Mags – right before the lists of worldwide yarn shops there is a paragraph in the middle of the page that says to *press* your knitting.

At first, I thought this was crazy – that it would flatten the stitches beyond belief and make everything as flat as a pancake with no remaining texture.

DUEfuss… That’s acrylic yarn that does that – not wool.

Rowan says to press (using the correct temps for your fiber, but of course) using a damp pressing cloth, which would create steam. I have done that, AND I’ve done what you see above. Here I am using my left hand to *open* up the tightness of the 2×2 ribbed sleeve and *floating* the steam over the surface. The actual iron DOES NOT touch the piece – just the steam which makes the stitches relax and behave.


Here you see an un-pressed sleeve sitting atop the pressed sleeve from above. I’ve used the magic of Photoshop to lighten the color of the top sleeve because the yarn color is too dark to see as is and I outlined it with a little Ogerific Green~!

Really a difference! AND, the ribbing because it is, well, ribbing, just wants to keep its hills and valleys so, in wool, remains slightly textured, but looser fitting…

… to be continued – read the Ribby Notes here.

12 responses to “Friday, February 11, 2005”

  1. Wendy says:

    Until I read your articles on blocking, I always blocked this way and usually still do. Why? Because I am impatient to finish when I get close to the end and this is so fast. I pin out the piece to size and actually press and lift the iron onto the damp cloth over the knitting (unless I have cables or something and depending on the yarn–which is never acrylic.) This works well and works fast so I can sew it up and try it on. Once I’ve knit all the pieces my delayed gratification quotient is full and I need me some SATISFACTION.

  2. June says:

    I’ve done the steam press blocking with wool ribbing. Usually, I steam heavily until the piece is thoroughly hot and almost wet-feeling, and I leave it pinned (wired, actually) until it is dry. In my experience, the piece will remain wider/flatter than the unblocked version, but given time, it will shrink a bit. Have you found that to be the case?

  3. Bonne Marie says:

    I’m with you, Wendy. This is a fast & easy way to block. If my pieces are coming in at the correct dimensions, they don’t need alot of processing to have a very finished look. The steam iron is great.

    I like *wash* blocking for pieces made from old or dirty yarn. Or, water spray blocking for combo fibers.

    June – I think the pieces *relax* a bit after they’re unpinned or steamed. Sometimes after I wash a sweater with a ribbed collar, I’ll have to re-steam it to set…

  4. Lorette says:

    I even bought a Rowena travel steamer to do this. It doesn’t work any different fom the steam iron concept, it’s just lighter. When I’m crawling around on my hands and knees doing this, lighter is better!

  5. Trope says:

    Bonne Marie–I used to be a committed non-blocker, but after reading your Ribby posts and seeing what Theresa has been up to, I think I have been converted! Thank you!

  6. Bonne Marie says:

    Right on, Trope! It’s the difference between taking something right out of the dryer and wearing it OR *finishing* it off with a little fancy ironing. Which looks better?

  7. Amanda says:

    When I first started knitting, I did a baby sweater from a Rowan book and learned the magic of steam blocking, too!! I love that I don’t have to wait days until the piece is finished drying if I were to wash it!

  8. Julia says:

    I do this as well. I’ve been dreaming of purchasing one of those industrial steamers for blocking. Excessive? Perhaps, but wouldn’t it be lovely?

  9. Bonne Marie says:

    Funny you should mention a garment steamer, Julia! I’m in love with this:

    I am hoping a little bird might be reading this and get a little hint of how FABULOUS a birthday present this could be… Hint… Hint…

    Ahemm. So Bold. Everytime I go into a store where they are setting up clothing displays (all over the place this week) they have these steamers – seems like it would be the COOLEST!

    Amanda – it does save time! I steamed the other sleeve and the back of the sweater in less than 10 minutes and they look great.

  10. MaryM says:

    I’m never patient enough when I try this, but you’ve inspired me to do it right next time. Happy birthday, not only to Great Emancipator, but also to our own Great Explicator!

  11. Lu says:

    what you just did is exactly what my mother taught me, and my grandmother had taught her and so forth. I have never “blocked” anything any other way, but knitters here (in the US) have always kind of looked down at me when I described my method. so happy to see it here, so I can tell them: “well, it’s like Bonne Marie does it!”.

  12. Becky says:

    You mean there’s another way to do it? I’m not sure where or when I learned it, but this is the only way I block, even with acrylic, and everything turns out great. Sometimes if the project is heavier than normal I’ll block this way over a damp tea towel so it gets heavy steam from both sides.

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