Category Archives: Spider Queen Shawl


Several people have asked about the blocking board Laura used for her
Paisley. I’ve sent the question to her, and will post any reply.

the mean time, here’s another suggestion. When I’m not being lazy
slinging things down willy-nilly on towels, I do follow a bit more of a
method. First, I clear out furniture in the room with our largest area
rug (I’ve got no wall to wall carpeting). Then I lay down a heavy
cotton quilt type blanket to protect the carpet from any moisture, and
to give me more depth into which I can pin. Finally I cover the blanket
with a rally check patterned sheet, one of two I stumbled across in a
discount store. Once all is smooth and ready, I pin out my item, using
long rust-free pins:

item above is my Spider Queen shawl. It stretched out to be about 7 feet
across. I began with a rough estimate of how large my finished item
should end up being, then I started at the center points of each edge.
I pinned them first, working from side to opposite side and tensioning
the piece across between counterpoised pins. Then I stretched out the
corners and did them, too. After that I just zipped back and forth
across the piece ping-pong style, pinning in the middle of each
remaining unpinned length until I had placed a pin in each of the
edging’s points:

the only caution I offer (beyond being prepared for the labor
intensiveness of this effort) is that the cheap Dritz pins I used were
long enough and rust-free enough, but they were too thin and too
fragile. They bent going in and the little bead heads pulled off when I
pulled the pins out. Not fun.

I know that rally check print
sheets are not an every day item, but any even check or Tattersall or
windowpane style plaid will work equally well. So would yard goods in
gingham or similar "graph paper" type patterns.

My friend Kathryn gently chides me about blocking my Kinzel Rose of England, languishing in my Chest of Knitting Horrors?
since 1991. While the method above would work for that piece it’s not
on my current schedule. ROE was the first bit of lace knitting I ever
attempted. It’s a testament to the precision and logic of that pattern
that I was able to do it with no prior lace experience.

At the time though, I wasn’t very appreciative though of my materials.
I used a mish-mash of size 30 white crochet cottons from various
makers, bought at different times. You can see where each purchased lot
begins and ends, some by slight color difference, some by texture. I
got about four courses of leaves into the final outside area and
stopped at the point where I ran out of thread (again) and when I was
no longer able to delude myself that the thread lot problem wasn’t
noticeable. I’d need to figure out where I was, buy more mis-matched
cotton, finish out another course of leaves, and do the final
crochet-off finish before I could even think of blocking. Either that
or ravel out a course or two of leaves and finish the thing from that
point. So you can get an idea of what the (eventual) goal is, here’s Judy Gibson’s ROE.

I know some people are asking about when I will be blocking my Alcazar shawl. I’m afraid the Larger Daughter took a fancy to my loud rally check sheets and took them off to sleep away camp. No large item blocking will happen here until she and my sheets return.


Progress continues to be made on my two current projects. I’m just below the armholes on the front of my Shapely T in Suede, that places me smack in the midst of the short rows that provide extra fullness in the bust (and that make the piece live up to its name). I’m looking forward to seeing how this topography overlies my own. In the mean time, I can report on my quest for blocking wires.

Having read so much about the effectiveness of threading stiff wires through the edges of lace pieces undergoing blocking, and having struggled with pin blocking my Spider Queen shawl last year, I decided to treat myself to blocking wires. Here’s the Spider Queen all finished, laid out on my living room floor:


And a detail of it mid-block. I was fortunate enough to come across a pair of flat checked bedsheets in an odd lot discount store a couple of years ago. The two-inch squares are VERY convenient if you need to lay something out evenly. You can see how the pins worked o.k. with this piece, which has lots of dagged points along the edges. The Forest Path stole however is straight-edged, without points. I was afraid that using pins would distort the edges.

Since no local knitshops sell the wires packaged up for this use, I went to several local hardware stores instead. I was looking for long straight lengths of non-corroding wire, preferably stainless steel. I didn’t find them. Instead I settled for brass. I had two choices in brass – 1/16-inch rods and 1/16th-inch tubes. Both came in 3-foot lengths. I opted for the tubes because they were more flexible than the rods. I bought eight at $1.65 each. They were slightly oily and sticky, so I washed and dried them thoroughly. Tomorrow I plan on washing my Forest Path stole and blocking it with my new wires. Pix will ensue…

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