Blocking Lace And Very Bad Cats

When I planned this post it was going to be a blocking lace tutorial, very how-to, very factual, and hopefully very helpful. I get asked blocking questions all the time. So I know I need to write a post like that.

This is not that post.

When I looked through the pictures I had taken, I realized I have a documentary on how I manage to get lace blocked while living with two Very Bad Cats… and some blocking tips to toss in.

That’s ok. I’ve noticed that ya’ll like Very Bad Cats. That post on why I needed a crochet seat cover earned me more comments than any other post I’ve made (WordPress helpfully told me this) and all of those comments were about how I’m using canned mackerel to cure hairballs. “All that work”, I tell people, “all that knitting and crocheting, and spinning, and they like the cats best.” Well, there are plenty of Very Bad Cats in this post. Enjoy!

I had two pieces of lace to block out this week, one that I made and one that I didn’t. Let’s start with mine. You might recognize it. Its the green lace that was supposed to have been done in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Un-blocked green lace stole

In the great Peace Accord of 2011, the Feline Overlord and I agreed that she, and her sidekick Coward Boy Cat (should he be awake at the time), would be granted the opportunity to inspect all work prior to it being washed and blocked. After washing and blocking its off-limits to Very Bad Cats. I religiously hold up my end of the peace treaty and giver her pre-block play time. She religiously tries to cheat and play with it after its been blocked. But I would expect no less from her.

Kitty-tongue-bath-on-handmade-lace

And now its time to put down the camera and rescue the lace

Now that she has made her inspection, its time to wash the lace. I use Eucalan, unscented. I’ve gotten good results with Soak. There are lots a quality wool wash soaps out there. If you don’t have any on hand, use a very old-fashioned plain-jane dish soap, like unscented Dawn. You won’t need much of it.

Then in goes the lace. Now… I’ve read lots of blocking instructions and most of them will tell you to let your knitting/crochet sit and soak for a certain length of time. The amount of time is not what’s important. You want it to sit and soak until it has sunk to the bottom of the sink, until it is fully saturated with water. I press it down in to the water…

blocking-lace-tips

… and walk away. I take it out when there are no more air bubbles coming up.

While its soaking I get my blocking surface ready. You’ll probably be disappointed because I don’t use anything fancy at all! I have that old wooden porch and its my surface. Its great. I can stick as many pins in it as I like, its huge, much bigger than any blocking board or squares I could buy, and I don’t have to pack it up and store it afterwards. I just need to lay out an old blanket.

You’ll never guess who that is under my blanket. Oh. You did guess. I’m shocked.

So the next step is to chase her out from under there.

Out.

All the way out.

Then I go back to my wet lace. Its sopping at this point so I gently press the excess water out (no wringing, no twisting) and then pin it down on the old blanket.

pinned-out-knit-lace

How I pin out depends on the shape of the piece I’m pinning. This is a rectangle so my priorities (in order) as I pinned were:

  • line up the two long sides and keep them parallel,
  • evenly distribute the knitting between those two sides and make sure it all lays flat,
  • emphasize the scallops on the cast on/bind off edges.

(Is all that other stuff in the picture distracting you? Okay. I brew sun tea in old jars on my porch pretty much every day from spring to fall. I’m using those tea jars to help hold the blanket down. I’m also using stones… some of which I’ve made pretty little sweaters for. And that yellow and green thingy in the bottom right is a washcloth I blocked at the same time. The pattern for that will be posted some time this week.)

Then I let it dry. In the Texas sun that takes about 2 minutes an hour. The blocking makes lace bigger and it opens up the stitches so you can see the pattern.

blocked knit lace


 

On to the crochet lace! I blocked that next. One of my students was given a gorgeous table cloth by her 92 year old mother. It was made without a pattern. It didn’t quite lay flat. My student when asked by her mother how it looked, lied and said that it was perfect. Of course she lied. I would have! So my job was to block it and make the bugger flat.

Here is what happened when it first came out of its bag:

Feline Overlord and crochet lace

Here is what happened when I laid it out for its pre-blocking picture:

Boy Cat woke up this time.

Then washing, and pinning. This is a giant circle so I started at the center and worked my way to the edges.

Midway through I switched to colored push pins so you could see them and see where I had pinned.

Flattened. Its not a perfect circle, but with this piece I had to make the choice: lay flat or be a circle. I went with flat because that was the issue in the first place. And her her mom will never know that its not a perfect circle or that Very Bad Cats have walked on it.


 

Admit it. ADMIT IT! You skipped all the writing and blocking tips and just looked at the kitty pictures, didn’t you?

That’s okay. For the record I didn’t stage any of the Very Bad Cat-ness. I don’t have to. I just have to keep my camera ready to go.

 


 

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16 thoughts on “Blocking Lace And Very Bad Cats

  1. I feel better, knowing someone else has the same issue! Mine is generally when I am still knitting the project. My cat Pwca will lay on it and get in the way! I’ll send you some pics on Ravelry since WordPress won;t let me, just so you know that you are not alone!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If the tablecloth owner has cats, no one will ever notice that it isn’t perfectly round.
    Because the cats will run across the table and knock it all Cattywonkous every day. Or if they are like mine,several times per day.
    I love lace table cloths. Mine are rarely straight.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow that green lace is pretty! And the tablecloth as well. I have a few projects I need to wash and block, but nothing bigger than a hat. A big shawl-type item would be challenging for me, only because it’s hard for me to do things on the floor these days. I suppose I’d try to use my bed…with plastic under a blanket, and pinning the knit to the blanket. And then bribing a certain kitty to spend the day on a different piece of furniture. Actually, now that I think about it, it would be more realistic to buy a spare bed just for blocking. A cat can’t sleep on two beds at once. Can he?
    Maybe I’d better stick to hats and socks,
    Thanks for reminding me about sun tea. I also keep a jug or two going all summer long, but it has been so long since this winter began, I had forgotten all about sun tea. And warm weather. It snowed again this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “A cat can’t sleep on two beds at once can they?”

      the laws of physics say no. My experience as a cat owner says… yes. I’m sure they could find a way. As a cat owner I also understand the impulse to just buy the fur-face a bed of its own. That’s not crazy talk at all.

      I heart sun tea. All winter long I boil water in a kettle and brew in a tea pot but there is something about sun tea that I like better. Maybe its the sun part.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Ahh, the green lace is a pattern I wrote. I’ll have it posted just as soon as I get it photographed! Next week hopefully.

      So glad that you like it! I’ve been worried that as a pattern it was ho-hum.

      Like

  4. I’m under the delusion that the time to soak has to do with what the fibers are. If the yarn has 15% silk or more, I won’t even check it for an hour – there will be more bubbles. Bubbles is a good metric for this soaking business 🙂

    I made a Cat Burglar Cowl with Skacel’s Urban Silk, 80% silk – it made bubbles all day…

    When checking RC, I read but scan ahead for bad cats, then go back and read closely (because you’re not only a good writer, but also good at picking things I like to read about). Then I go back for more cats.

    I also enjoy the condescension of the black and stripey catheads, but the power dynamic is reversed. He, a classic mackerel tabby, is massive and has claws. She, a slinky black cat with (random white hairs) stars, won’t stay down — but keeps going back.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cat Burglar cowl is a good cowl. I’ve never used that yarn but yes, silk takes forever to dry so it makes since that it takes forever to soak.

      ‘I also enjoy the condescension of … catheads.” lololol Yes that is what we do. They condescend to live with us and we are forever grateful!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I must say, I love reading your blog – and not just for the Catty Goodness of the Very Bad Cats. 🙂

    Coward Boy Cat reminds me of our Winky (the tiger-stripe in my profile picture). He was also a big baby who bowed down to the female cats in the house. Sadly, all my feline babies have passed over the Rainbow Bridge, but their legacy of keeping things interesting is carried on by my dog & my 4-year-old son (the 2 reasons that nothing I make gets blocked right now).

    Thanks for giving me a smile every morning, there’s always something in your blog that brings one to my face.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are most welcome! And thanks for sharing that little snippet about yourself.
      I love writing for this community. People are always sympathetic when I whine about my spoiled fur-faces., they praise whatever I make, and they laugh at my jokes, even the dumb ones. Who wouldn’t want to write for ya’ll??

      Liked by 1 person

  6. (1) I totally thought it would be Bob Barker under the blanket. I was sooo wrong.

    (2) What you don’t know is that Feline Overlord uses social media while you’re sleeping. She pm’s us with reminders that it is HER blog, and we shall always comment on her, or face retribution.

    (3) Despite the fear of such retribution, I will tell you that your lace is beautiful, and thanks for the blocking tips.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bob Barker would be as much help as the Feline Overlord when it goes to blocking I think.

      Thanks for the compliment! I think the green lace came out great too! And I’ll protect you from Her wrath. I have lots of experience from protecting the houseplants.

      Like

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