high fiber diet: the outer-limits of my comfort zone...

so, as i mentioned last time around, i recently completed an item that instantly became my (latest) favorite thing of all time, and it is going to be hard for any future project to top this one. best of all, it goes with my favorite mug, which is always within close reach (she says, taking a sip of tea from said vessel). do you see the connection?

how about now?

this is the Wonder Woman Wrap (by Carissa Browning), and there is also a crochet version... if you like that sort of thing. the pattern is totally free, but i would have paid any amount she wanted for a copy. seriously.

it is a simultaneously simple and clever design in the use of garter stitch (très simple) and short-row shaping (the clever part) to form the iconic design. the yarn is a merino/acrylic blend, but it is so soft that i can wear it wrapped around my neck and shoulders, even with my delicate, allergic to all the things, snowflake skin. the combination of the garter stitch and the super-soft yarn makes for a lovely, squishy fabric that is warm and incredibly snuggly. i really love this thing.

it even looks good on the back side.

no exaggeration... i took one look at the photo of the sample shawl, did the fangirl squee a few times, then instantly copied the image and applied a black and white filter... because i know the outer-limits of my comfort zone. plus, i was neck-deep in pink projects at the time, and i had to draw the line somewhere. luckily, my comfort zone has room enough for many shades of grey.

i am, however, tempted to knit up a couple-few of these in regulation colors for a couple-few awesome ladies i know who would get  a kick out of such a thing. the overall shape of the scarf/shawl means that it can be easily washed without distorting the design, which makes for stress-free gift-knittng... which brings me to other part of today's post.

blocking, as the name suggest, is the process of shaping a garment/item after it has been knitted. not every item requires blocking, while some require what is commonly referred to as "aggressive blocking". a simple item like a hat or a pair of mittens can be hand washed and laid flat to dry, or even tossed in with the regular laundry (if it was made from machine-washable yarn). by contrast, items with more complex shapes, especially those with lots of curves and points, have to be blocked back into shape... every single time they are washed. how can i possibly gift knitted items that require so much maintenance on the part of the recipient?

lace, for example, has to be pinned out while wet (to open up the holes in the lace work) and left like that until completely dried... and i do mean completely, or it will just curl back up on itself, forming a shapeless mass. case and point... the shawl i recently pulled from the bottom of the laundry basket, where it has resided for the past two years. it has a pretty lacy edging...

which curls right back up the second i let go. sigh!

this is a shawl i made five years ago. the pattern is Dream Stripes (by Berangere Cailliau), and it is also free on Ravelry.

this is a relatively common setup for a knitted scarf/shawl... most of the body is done in plain stockinette stitch, while the border/edge sports some sort of fancy lacy design.

lace is lovely, except it tends to lose definition with time/wear, meaning that it has to be blocked back into shape every single time the item is washed. even if you never use or touch knitted lace, the fibers in the yarn will relax over time, causing the fabric to curl up on itself. look how sharp those edges are after they have been blocked.

now, i really love this shawl. the dark brown is some commercial yarn i had laying around, and the lighter colored stuff is some of my own hand-dyed, hand-spun yarn in a colorway i called "Guinness", as it reminded me of waiting for the head to settle on a freshly-poured stout.

except, i have not worn this shawl for a few years, mainly because it needed to be washed... which meant that it needed to be blocked. and that (along with swatching) is the other thing that makes knitters cringe. blocking this shawl means pinning out all of the edges, especially the lovely points that i want to stand out in the design. this is aggressive blocking. note, i am using a combination of blocking wires and straight pins to hold the shawl in place on some interlocking foam mats i bought at my local dollar store.

a day later, and the scarf is thoroughly dry. the points stay in place when i remove the pins and wires.

so, now i can wear my striped shawl again... just as soon as i mend that little hole.

the Wonder Woman shawl did not really require blocking, as it is a simple shape that could just be laid flat and left to dry, making it acceptable for gift-knitting. i did still pin mine out completely while it dried... though, as my favorite animator suggested, that might be because i am completely insane. maybe i did go just a tiny bit overboard with the pins.

who cares. it is squishy and lovely and it makes me smile.

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