Stick A Fork In It, It’s Done

The Estonian Garden Scarf is finally done. I cruised across the knitting finish line yesterday, then got out the camera and the blocking gadgets and went to work. I love blocking lace. The pre-blocking product looks so unimpressive, then voila, you have a work of art. I’ve been carrying this thing around for weeks working on it, and everybody that looks at it mumbles nice things, but I could tell that they were really thinking, “that looks like a pile of crap”. Well, here’s the reward.

Preblocked scarf:


You might note some little ends sticking out if you look closely. Because the lace gets stretched quite a bit during the blocking process, when I wove in the ends, I left about an inch and a half when I trimmed them. After it was blocked and dry, I trimmed them close. I have no desire to see things unravel before my eyes.

I believe in the full-immersion theory of lace blocking. Sort of like full-immersion baptism, it turns it into a completely new thing.


I let it soak in a combo of wool wash and cool water for fifteen or twenty minutes, which gets it thorougly soaked and removes the road dust. I use Kookaburra wool wash, which you can get any number of places. I buy mine here. It also smells very nice (if you like tea tree oil; if not, use something else). After the wash, I rolled the scarf up in a bath towel and pressed out the excess water.


Then out come the blocking wires. I bought a blocking kit years ago, but it didn’t have very many pieces with it. Instead of paying a fortune for another kit, I went to the local welding supply place this week and bought more wires. The guy at Airgas was a hoot. He told me all about his wife’s knitting, and I’m pretty sure I am the only knitter who has bought welding rods from him for blocking purposes.


These are sold as “Cut Length Rods”, and are stainless steel, the 1/16th inch size, which was the narrowest diameter that they carried. There are about 24 pieces in a tube, and the tube itself provides handy storage. The ends are not rounded, so you have to be a bit careful with them, but I might get John to file them off for me at some point. These were much cheaper than a professional blocking kit. One other bit of advice; if you buy these, take a damp cloth and wipe them down before you use them. And make sure you get stainless steel, for obvious reasons.

I used two on each long side of the scarf, and carefully threaded them through the edges. This is a bit fidgety, but not nearly as fidgety as using nine million pins to get an even edge. I used a couple of shorter pieces from my old kit for the ends. If you buy the welding rods to use, you could probably cut some of the longer ones in half for this.

Then you stretch it out and pin it down:


One of the nice things about laceweight yarn is that it dries fast. Here’s what I had this morning:


A closeup of the nupps:


And the obligatory lake shot.


This will get packaged up and sent off to my sister for her birthday next week.

Project Details:

Pattern: Estonian Garden Wrap, pattern by Evelyn C. Clark.
Yarn: Zephyr wool-silk laceweight, color Basil. The pattern called for 2 oz, I ended up using about 1 1/2 oz.
Needles: Holz & Stein ebony circular, size 3.25mm.
Started: February 2006
Finished: May 19, 2006
For: my sister, for her birthday. (Shhhhh, it’s a surprise.)
What I learned: I learned more about making lace, which I’m beginning to think is my favorite kind of knitting. I learned how to do a provisional cast on, and then to unzip it to get “live” stitches. Most importantly, I learned about the behavior of nupps. I even learned to like them a little bit. They are quite pretty once they are done; it’s the doing that’s the trouble.
Verdict: I love this one enough to do another. The pattern has two versions, the narrower scarf, as shown here, and a wider stole. I can see making this again in the larger version. The pattern is clearly written, and without errors that I could find. The lace directions are written out as well as charted, and the charts are very easy to follow. I give it 5 stars.

Next up: New lace project in the making. I joined the Amazing Lace knitalong, and have finally picked a project after changing my mind fifteen times. The first challenge is to introduce your “team”, so that will be my next post. You’ll just have to stand the suspense until then.



Stick A Fork In It, It’s Done — 38 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing the steps to blocking lace. I working on my first piece, finally to the edging. I have never blocked lace before and your phots and instructions are great. I especially appreciate your advice about leaving longer ends, I don’t know if I would have thought about that.
    I don’t think I am going to be as nervous about blocking now.

  2. Whoa – Lorette – that is gorgeous!!! LOVE the nupps- and all the patterns. You knit beautiful lace!

  3. That is absolutely beautiful. You really do great work. I look forward to the next project; your finished objects always look better than the photos provided with the patterns.

  4. Lorette: It is fantastic! And you are the best knitting partner to share all your insights. Let’s toast…. Debby

  5. It’s so lovely Lorette! You sis will be thrilled! Can’t wait to see your “teammate” for AL!

  6. Absolutely wonderful, Lorette.
    And I thought I was the only one who wove the ends in after the piece was blocked. Great minds think alike I guess. πŸ˜‰

  7. It looks fabulous–the nupps even look like they were worthwhile. (It’s that magical “lace” thing again.) Really beautiful.

  8. What a wonderful lace project. Thanks for the tips on using the welding rods. I’ll have to find a welding store and pick some up. I also like your blocking squares!! I love making lace.

  9. The blocking wires from the Man-store is genius. It’s probably the same product we buy for super duper markup.

  10. It is just gorgeous! I didn’t know what a nupp was until you wrote about them here. They sound scary!

  11. Ahhh! Another knitter sucked into the lace knitting abyss. I love it! Your life will never be the same. Blocking lace is as magical as it comes. It is by far my mostest favorite part of knitting, bar none. I, too, caved in and joined the Amazing Lace. I’ll probably getting around to introducing my partner this week. Now we just have to get together and knit lace!

  12. Oh, and I forgot to mention (how could I?) – your scarf is GORGEOUS!!! Your nupps look perfect. Can’t say I ever learned to love them, but at least we made peace. I must have – I’ve made the darn thing 5 times!

  13. Absolutely gorgeous….lucky sister to receive such a beautiful gift! thanks for the tip on welding rods.

  14. Lorette, I love that wrap! What I love more is using those wires for blocking–probably much cheaper than the blocking kits that are out there, too!

  15. Gorgeous! I can’t wait to see it in person (I’m assuming I’m related to the sister you’re sending it to)!!!!

  16. Whoa! That’s gorgeous! I’m Jealous!I can’t knit lace to save my life. Ella doesn’t count, I don’t think. See? the Nupps were worth it! Now that I see you using those foam puzzle-blocks for a blocking board, I now know it’ll work. I need to block Branching Out and now I know I can do it.

  17. I’m sure you’ve already heard it a bunch, but that really is a wonderful scarf — your yarn choice, color choice — all of it great!