I’ve been drooling over a blocking frame I saw on a website for a long, long time. The problem was that those frames are quite expensive and the shipping from Germany would probably be outrageous.
The frame itself isn’t that different from a big embroidery hoop, with holes along its length – if you have one of the Haapsalu books, you’ve seen photos of frames with wooden pins to hold the knitting to the frame.
Where the German blocking system gets interesting is that it uses elastic bands with hooks at one end to hold the knitting to the frame. Because the elastic is…well, elastic, those hooks distribute the tension better, which makes for a more even finished shape – be it a circle, a triangle or any other polygon.
I’ve had a wooden frame for some time now, but the first time I used it, I secured the knitting to the frame using push pins.
There were a few problems with that – it only really works if the knitting has scallops at the edges, you need a helper and, in the end, both Joel and I had sore fingers from pushing pins into the wood.
After using the frame, I took it apart and it had been sitting in the basement ever since. I wasn’t happy with the pin method and didn’t really had a need for a 8 ft frame since then.
Until Verão. The stole is – without aggressive blocking – 8 ft long. Up came the pieces of the frame and the first blocking began.
After many hours of fighting the frame, the cord I used to thread through the knitting, the knitting itself, I ended up with an upset husband and a very badly blocked stole.
Now, because I’ve had the German frame in the back of my mind for years, I’d already stocked up on rubber bands and paper clips ;). After a week or so of waiting (for the first time since I began blocking my knitting, I was afraid), I soaked the stole again, grabbed the rubber bands and paper clips, the pieces of wood and went to block the stole again. And this time I was alone.
I’m happy to report that it did work! Despite the fact that Verão is big and long, the time it took for me to attach the stole to the frame was small and almost trouble-free.
The rubber bands didn’t slide as I hoped, but then again, the wood is unfinished and untreated. If I had long enough dowels or even PVC pipes, evenly distributing the rubber band would had been easier.
If I ever make something this big again, I’d attach another piece of wood half way the long sides of the frame to prevent the wood from bending in, but other than that, it worked just fine and the stole has even dimensions throughout.
I think this setup would also work for things with straight edges and round shawls with a few adjustments.
For straight edges, I’d thread blocking wires or some cotton thread close to the edge and put the clips at closer intervals.
For circular shawls, I’d place longer rubber bands near the corners of the frame.
The one important thing about using this method is to make sure that when you put the paper clips in, you don’t split the yarn.