Saturday I finished the shawl. I cast off all day, and I’m not kidding about that. I cast off for a few hours the evening before, and then I cast off for about five straight hours on Saturday, and when I finished I was filled with a glee that I could barely contain. Maybe this contributed to what happened next. Who knows.
I trotted it outside to take a few pre-blocking pictures, and really, I was pretty happy with the thing. The whole time I was knitting it I was worried it wouldn’t be long enough, and as I cast off it became obvious that this wouldn’t be its flaw. The thing is huge. A little surprisingly huge – although I don’t know how surprised I should be – it happens to me every once in a while when something is bunched up on a circular needle. It looks too short, and so I over-react to that by making it too long, As I cast off, this was revealed in increments. I had to remind myself as it kept coming off the needles that I’d wanted it to be long. Super long. Super long is the goal. Don’t panic because it’s long.
It’s long. Not too long, I didn’t think, but really long. Maybe this also contributed to what happened next. I was anxious about the length, and wondering how much length would turn up in blocking, and so I rushed off to block it that minute. I gave it a wee soak in the sink, then got out the wires and pins. The first problem was that it was too big to fit on my bed. (Hint #1 that it is big.) Even diagonally, it wouldn’t fit, so I thought for a minute about other places to block it, but they all involved vacuuming, so I decided to block it in parts. I’d block the left half, letting the right lie fallow, then unpin the left, shift the shawl on the bed, and pin and spray the right half. I wasn’t going to block it hard anyway – I wasn’t looking for much stretch at all. Partly, I wanted a soft block because it was already big, but mostly because the yarn Sexy, is part bison (a short fibre and so not super strong) and part silk, which is a strong fibre, but not when wet. This seemed to me like a reasonable plan.
In its original incarnation, this shawl was crescent shaped. I changed that for most of it, and after I’d modified the pattern the shawl had a straight section in the centre, then a gentle crescent shaped section on each end. If I could have figured out how to make that section less crescent-ish I would have done that too. Maybe that had something to do with what happened next too.) I threaded dressing wires through the left half of the top section, and then set about pinning the curved part of the top edge. It curved. It curved a little more than I wished it would, and so I was gently easing it into something less curvy, when I came to a part that was quite curvy, and at this exact moment, I took full leave of all my senses. In a decision that can only be described as complete stupidity, I took hold of the top edge between my two hands, and ever so gently, pulled it a little.
Just as I’d hoped, the edge stretched the tiniest bit, reducing the curve and giving me an edge way closer to what I wanted. I think more than anything else, that success contributed to what happened next – which was that I decided to pin that edge quite firmly. I put in one pin, then took hold of the next spot and moved it to where I wanted, gently pulling it a little farther.
Suddenly, the edge was straight! For one wonderful second I smiled, congratulating myself on my blocking prowess, and then, with a sinking feeling of nausea, realized that there was no way that the threads in the top part had suddenly stretched more than I needed – there was no way that they could suddenly be that compliant, and I realized, in a horrible and complete moment of understanding what had happened.
I’d broken the yarn. Yup, the worst nightmare that blocking has to offer, right there, and even though I 100% knew better, I did it.The second I realized what had happened, I walked away. I couldn’t think of anything that would help right that second, especially since it was still wet, so I left it until it was dry, and then unpinned it carefully, and then moved it to a safe spot like it was a case of nitroglycerine. Right that minute the only plans I could think of were either sobbing helplessly, or getting rather drunk, and neither are a look I embrace. I did take an hour long bath with a large glass of wine while I contemplated how it could be that a knitter with my level of experience and knowledge could pull such a completely idiotic move, but after that I tried to wade over to the side of the pity pool rather than keep on swimming.
A few days later, with a bit of perspective and contemplation, I think it’s going to be okay. It looks to me like just one thread snapped, so today I’m attempting a little surgery. I know it doesn’t look that bad, but we all know how knitting goes – one broken spot and the whole piece is at risk. I’m not quite sure how I’ll tackle it yet. So far everything I think of shortens the yarn a little, and that’s not going to help with the top edge problem in general. Right now, I’m leaning towards threading in a replacement chunk of yarn, one that overlaps with the existing yarn, then takes the correct path along the edge. I’ve got lots of other edge to use as an example, and I think I can figure it. Then I just have to figure out how to secure that piece. I think I’ll look for a matching thread in my sewing box, and see if I can’t lash them together with a few well placed stitches.
Once that’s done? Sigh. I guess I take another stab at blocking. This time though, I think I’ll be a lot more careful.