Thursday, March 19, 2009

Make Your Own Blocking Wires

Today I read an article reviewing some stainless steel blocking wires used to block knitted objects--particularly lace shawls. I had wire envy! Next to my bed sat a sad, crumpled-up lace shawl, waiting patiently for me to block her. The reason she had been neglected is that I dreaded taking the time block her out with dozens of pins.

My blocking experiences have never been great. As soon as I finish placing all the pins in place, I inevitably find that one edge is longer than another, or the corners are not quite square, and then comes the unpinning and hoping the second or third try is better.

So, after reading the article I determined that blocking wires would make my life easier. The only problem? The $40+ pricetag and the fact that I would have to wait for them to be shipped. I wanted to block the shawl Today.

Being a thrifty knitter, I decided to make my own blocking wires. I rummaged through my husband's closet until I found four wire clothes hangers that were coated with paint. I knew that I could not use regular wire clothing hangers because they could possibly rust when blocking wet items. Next, I found some wire cutters and a sanding block. Sandpaper could be used, too.

I straightened out the wire hangers as best as I could. My hands were pretty tired by the time I straightened the fourth one. If you have a strong-handed friend, this is the time to call them over! I used the wire cutters to cut the curved ends off and then sanded the ends gently so the wires would not snag on the knitted fabric and fibers.

All this time I had the shawl soaking in the sink

I ran the wires through the upper stitches of the shawl and pinned the wires down. I then ran the wires through the points of the shawl and pinned the wires in place. It was easy to stretch it to a certain length by using a measuring tape. Here's the picture of it being blocked.

So, for $0 and 30 minutes, I have my own blocking wires!
The pattern used is "Flower Basket Shawl" from Interweave Knits Fall 2004. The yarn is some of my handspun Merino "Greenwood Fiberworks Skinny Singles" in the Plum Tree colorway.

Now, if I can only have patience to let it dry! Hmmm . . . maybe I'll have to get out the hairdryer again.


Windybrook Spinner said...

Awesome! I read the article too and wanted some blocking wires, so thanks for the great idea. The shawl is beautiful.

Carolyn said...

Thanks Cayenne!

dragonflyducky said...

Brilliant idea...and lovely shawl!

Trinity said...

I JUST read that article today and was casting about for welding wires on the Internet and found a welding place near my house. I thought of the money I'll be spending anyway and wanted to cry a little. Then I thought of this VERY SAME idea and was about to go find some old wire hangers then I saw your post. :D Great minds think alike!

I think we need to be careful that the ends of the clipped wires wouldn't rust themselves. Not sure how to achieve this. Perhaps a dab of acrylic paint? I have plenty of that. Or maybe a tiny dab of Elmer's glue, let dry very well into a rubbery tip if you don't have the paint? Hope it'll work. :)