Little Lessons: Lace Finishing with Finesse
Today’s post is a double-header! First is a nifty trick to ensure that you make the most of the final scraps of yarn when you are knitting a scarf. Then I’ve got a new video tutorial on blocking your finished scarf, shawl, or other lace project.
Believe it or Knot
Picture the situation … You are working on a scarf, like the lovely Rib Lace Scarf by Jeanette Sloan from MDK Field Guide No. 15 Open, and coming to the end of your ball of beautiful yarn. You don’t want to waste a scrap of it, but you also don’t want to lose at yarn chicken and have to undo your work so that you can bind off.
How do you know whether you have enough yarn to work another pair of rows (RS and WS—assuming you need to bind off on a particular row)? The answer is to put a knot in your yarn …
Unwind your remaining yarn and loosely tie a knot half way along the strand, as shown in the picture above. Then knit your next pair of rows.
If you reach the knot as you are working that next pair of rows, you know that you won’t have enough yarn to work that pair of rows AS WELL AS the final row plus the bind-off.
In my demo pictured here, I didn’t reach the knot as I was working the next pair of rows (hurrah, hurrah!) …
… so I untied the knot and then retied it half way along the remaining yarn.
And I repeated the process starting with another pair of pattern rows—remember I’m trying to get as many rows as I can from the remaining yarn before I knit one final row and the bind-off.
As you see above, after working another pair of rows, I nearly reached the knot, but not quite—that shows me I have just enough yarn to complete the final row and bind off. So I untie the knot and complete my scarf.
You can follow the same steps to avoid games of yarn chicken and reduce yarn waste.
Block Me, Amadeus
Now that you have made it to the end of your beautiful lace project, it is looking rather unprepossessing … Where is the beautiful patterning the designer’s sample showed? Straight off the needles, knitted lace projects can look like hair net, or scrunched-up tissue. They aren’t very glamorous, but fear not! All that will change with the magic of blocking.
Blocking is the process of spreading out your knitting so that the openwork can be clearly seen, and then doing something to make it stay that way! The most popular options are to soak your project and then let it dry in the correct arrangement (this is called wet blocking) or to lay out your project to the desired measurements and then use hot steam from an iron (steam blocking) to set the yarn in place.
Today’s video tutorial will show you how to wet block a simple project using basic equipment.
Here is the equipment list:
- A recently finished, unblocked project
- Rust-resistant pins
- Towel and surface you can pin into (a carpeted area or bed are perfect)
- Blunt yarn needle
- Strong thread (I used a 4ply mercerised cotton)
Now that you have blocked your lace, sit back and admire its beauty! It completely transforms how the project looks, doesn’t it? And it’s remarkably easy to do.
Congratulations! You have now graduated from the School of Lace—flip that tassel to the other side and start eyeing up a more complex lace project. You can do it!