Thursday, March 27, 2014

Finished! Designing and knitting a fisherman's sweater - part 7

Ta da!  One fake gansey finished!  The angle is a bit foreshortened, but you can get the idea of how it looks.  Oh, and the yarn is a bit more olive than the camera wants to show.

Here's what it looked like yesterday after I finished weaving in the ends and, obviously, before blocking.  Messy, no?  But that's what a wool sweater is before a tender blocking.

Isn't it weird how where and when I photograph the sweater the color changes?  The very top photo is the closest, but I'm posting these so you can see how nice everything looks once blocked.  Ah well, I'm not a photographer.

All of this magic takes place when you block a woolly sweater.  Here's how I do it.

I fill up a sink with lukewarm water and dunk the sweater into it.  You really have to push it down into the water because wool resists water absorption and wants to float.  So, gently, you push it into the water until it's thoroughly soaked.  Then, supporting the garment with both hands, you lift it out, drain the water, and very very gently squeeze the sweater all over to get rid of excess water.  Do this over and over, always supporting the garment as best you can.  This sweater weighed a ton before I started the squeezing process, but I got rid of a lot of the water.  The trick is "gentle".  This is not superwash wool, and it will want to shrink or felt.  Nope, don't want that.  So treat it like a delicate object and gently squeeze.

When you think you have gotten rid of the bulk of the sogginess, dump the sweater onto a bath towel, roll it up and push down on it to get the towel to absorb water.  Repeat with a couple of other towels.  Your towels will be totally soaked, which is what you want.

Lay out the largest towel you have.  Pick up the sweater by the shoulders, and it will lengthen like you can't imagine.  Take a deep breath, and give it a couple of good shakes.  Now your sweater will look like it would fit a giraffe.  That's OK.  What you've done is get all your uneven stitches to even themselves out.  It works, but you have this bizarre garment that you will now lay out on that large towel.

Now you shape the sweater.  It's still very wet and you can make it wider or narrower, make the sleeves look good, align the side and underarm fake seams.  In short, you make it look like the sweater you want it to be.  Takes a bit of time, but you need to do this so that it will look nice.

You'll need to change the towel under the sweater very often; it's absorbing all that dampness.  Each time you do this, reshape the sweater.  If you have a fan available, you can blow air onto the sweater and that will help a bit in drying time.  You can expect it to take at least 12-14 hours to thoroughly dry, and even more if you have a dense garment or heavy yarn.  A lace shawl will dry in 2-3 hours easily, but not a sweater.  Turn it over each time you change towels.

And that's it.  A lovely, soft, cuddly garment to keep the recipient warm and toasty.  Here in northern New Jersey, it's still cold enough to need a woolly sweater.  Mail out the garment to DD, who lives in the Frozen Northland, and then cast on for another sweater.  Email a pic to Miss P, the MN grand, and try to convince her that she needs a sweater next year.  Hah!  Middle school kids resist such stuff, silly kids.

A vest for the Hubz.  The Hubz is not a delicate little creature like I am.  I knit 36" sweaters.  This thing is 50" around.  Fingering weight yarn on size 3 needles.  It'll take forever.  But, he wants a vest, so no sleeves!!!!!!  I'm not in a hurry with this one, since he won't wear it any more this season.  But next fall, when it gets cool again, then he'll have it.

I think I'll put a bunch of my fake cables on it.  V-neck, because that's what he likes, and I also like knitting them.

Thank you all for your kind words.  Don't be intimidated by the gansey; I've been doing my own sweater thing for 45 years, so I can do it in my sleep.  But you can do it too.


straythreads said...

Your sweater looks wonderful!!!!! thanks for sharing how to properly block a sweater and why it is done that way. I learned something! Gorgeous!!!

Ramona said...

Gorgeous... absolutely gorgeous. The detail is just stunning. Thank you for the blocking instructions for sweaters.

Teresa in Music City said...

Your sweater is absolutely gorgeous!!!! What a great finish!

Linda said...

Love your sweater and all the different patterns. Thanks for instructions on blocking (that scares me).

sklinn62 said...

Your sweater is quite a work of art! Just beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I was raised in a farmhouse in NJ quite a while ago. We wore wool everything since it was so cold. Your instructions for blocking reminded me that my mother washed all the wool goodies just that same way. I had training for blocking my knitted garments before I was even aware of it. Your sweaters are dynamite, I am jealous that you seem to make them up as you go. Stephani in N. TX (

Judy S. said...

Lovely sweater! Thanks for the great blocking info also.

Michelle said...

Love love love the sweater.


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