Blocking Knitted Lace

I’ve always learned that a textile—whether woven, knitted or sewn—is never finished until it’s washed. Immersing a textile in lukewarm water with mild liquid detergent, and then NOT playing with it while it’s in the water, allows the fibers to relax and to slip into place. Especially in knitting, any unevenness in the the stitches or little “incongruities” are worked out and resolved… magically! It all comes out in the wash.

For this tutorial we are blocking a large hand knit shawl. I’ve used a wool/silk singles (Mushishi Yarn by Plymouth and made in Italy) in a slate blue and brown, size 9 needles, and a gorgeous ring lace stitch pattern passed down to me by my mentor. Katharine Cobey sent along a one-page chart that she created defining the rows of this 8-row repeat. This stitch must be available in books. 

I followed the shape for knitting a triangular shawl where you cast on six stitches and keep one side of the triangle stable (not increasing or decreasing stitches), and, on the opposite edge (and at the same time) increase one stitch every other row until you reach the desired length and width. My finished shawl measured 60” wide with 81” on the stable edge, and 108” along the increased edge. I interspersed garter stitch with ring lace at random. Apart from this shaping and the stitches, there is no “pattern”—I made it up.

The following photos illustrate the steps involved. Blocking evens out tension across the width of the piece, helps the work lay flat, adds a professional look, and allows knitted lace to truly “open up.” 

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