Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Right Tool for the Right Job

One of DH's favorite lines from Zap Comix is "Mr. Natural says, 'The right tool for the right job.'"

While blocking Glacier Sweep yesterday, I thought, the right tool: too true.  Glacier Sweep is a REALLY big half-circle shawl with an i-cord edge (more on i-cord edges in the next post).  The only way to block it was with the right blocking wires.  So on Sunday I invested in these:

Janet had them in the store, though it took Lynette to find them for me.  On the front counter.  From my point of view behind the counter and computer screen, completely invisible.  Anyway, worth every penny.

I own a set of straight blocking wires bought sometime in the 1990's.  But if you want to block a curved edge, you need these wires.  They worked perfectly.  I threaded the longest wires through the curved i-cord, then pulled the wired edge and pinned it so the stockinette stitch contrasted strongly against the garter stitch curved stripes.

This is a vast set of blocking wires.  Really long ones and really short ones both.  Will work for straight edges, too, like the top of the shawl.  Have a feeling that my old blocking wires aren't going to be used quite as much...

The right tool for the right job.  Worth the investment.  And it's not like tools wear out.

Get some blocking mats.  Mine are from Knit Picks but you can get the same thing for less in weird colors at Home Depot or other hardware stores:

I didn't want weird-colored mats but only because I tend to photograph projects while blocking (see Oct. 7, 2013 blog post, "Blocking the Wedding Shawl").

In any case, I cover my studio table with the mats to the size I want.  Pins stick in the mats.  The mats have a raised grid that holds the shawl, etc., in place enough to wire and pin it without chasing it around the table.  Yes, your bed will work, too, as a blocking surface.  Me, I prefer to sleep in the bed and allow a shawl to dry overnight. 

These are the needles I use for joining yarn, burying yarn ends and the occasional fiber repair job:
This particular set I found in String Theory's notions drawer; they're made by Lacis and are called something like ribbon needles. 
Each needle has a long eye and a sharp point.  Different from tapestry needles, which have curved and blunt points.  Those of you who do needlepoint know these sharp needles by another name.  Also, sometimes they're called darning needles.  To do really blind finishing, especially on multicolor or lace or anything with a pattern to it, you need sharp needles to hide yarn ends.  Not to mention to conduct a Russian join easily.

What other tools do you absolutely need?
1.  Row counters that live on your knitting needle:
Use the top one in the photo for knitting flat/ back & forth.
Hang the bottom one from your needle when working after joining in the round.  That way it functions as an end-of-round marker as well.

2. Invest in some good stitch markers.  My preference is metal ones, since they slide across the needles without grabbing.  Again, yes, you can use bits of yarn for stitch markers.  But the small investment makes your knitting time so much easier and more enjoyable.

(Optional, though not in our house.) Cat, to oversee everything you do:


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