Yesterday morning I finished the Sarcelle Shawl and began my first adventure in blocking. I was VERY concerned about the blocking as the shawl is knit on the bias so isn't rectangular as it is being knit. It has to be coaxed into a rectangular shape through the magic of blocking. Which I wasn't entirely sure I believed in.
At first I tried to block the shawl just by pinning the wet shawl onto my yoga mat (thanks to a knitting forum tip) - and that was frustrating and after about 25 minutes of tugging and pulling I gave up. Taking advantage of my new status as a member of the internet knitting community I did a bit of a blog trawl and discovered many people recommended blocking wires (which I didn't have) or fishing wire (which I also didn't have). But I did have some beading wire and I thought that was close enough to fishing wire. (Well, actually I don't really know what fishing wire is - but how far from beading wire can it be? A wire is pretty much a wire.)
Anyway, attempt number two began with me threading the beading wire along the perimiter of the shawl. I then pinned the shawl to the mat using the wires to coax the shape I wanted and to keep the edges straight. So much easier!! Although I think the whole experience has convinced me that blocking wires would be a good investment if I intend to make much more lace which needs blocking.
Having said that, the finished result isn't a perfect rectangle and I think I will block it again before I give it to CC.
The shawl was knit on 2.75 mm needles in Kid Silk Haze - just over 4 balls.
Pre blocked it was 62 x 14 inches
Post blocking it was 69 x 18 inches
Using Kid Silk Haze I found the needle choice important (critical). I tried 2 sets of needles before I settled on some gorgeous Colonial rosewood needles which made the process so much easier.
The pattern was very clear and easy to read. The main 6 row repeat pattern is easily memorised but the shawl kept me interested to the end as there are enough milestones to make me feel I was making progress.
If I were to make the shawl again the only thing I would change would be the decrease edge. (As the shawl is knit on the bias, in the 'even' section on side is increased alternate rows, while the other is decreased.) Purling the last 2 stitches together made that edge much more rigid than the other (which was increased by knitting 2 in second last stitch).
In other news.... My sock knitting continues. Inspired by the Sockathon I've completed a pair of Opal Rainforest Chameleon socks and I am approaching the toe of my first Monkey. Monkey is a pattern I'm really enjoying and expect I'll make a few more pairs over the coming months. The final pair will be Bayerische - a masterpiece of a sock I think!