One of the big knitting events for me over the past year was finding like-minded knitters in real life. I’ve certainly enjoyed meeting knitters electronically, through this blog and through Ravelry, but there is something about the group experience that adds to the pleasure of the craft. I’ve also been terribly jealous when I read blog accounts of knitters who have a regular group to go to. So now I’ve happily joined your ranks.
Raveler Jeanette discovered me on Ravelry and invited me to Handmade on Hudson, and since the spring of last year, I’ve headed there nearly every Sunday I could. The group has a heavy emphasis on charity knitting, and because we knit in a church that gives us a well-lit classroom that is cool in summer and warm in winter, we knit baptismal blankets for them in return. Each child born in Croton, who attends that church, gets a hand-knit or hand-crocheted blanket.
Unfortunately, however, these blankets have to be acrylic—and I have a deep-seated hatred for knitting with plastic. My view was shaped by the horrid offerings that were among the only yarns available to knitters in the 1960s and 1970s, and I’ve considered myself blessed by the knitting gods that so much beautiful real wool is available now. I really thought that I’d never be knitting with acrylic again. But because it is necessary for the blankets to be machine-washable (and superwash doesn’t seem to satisfy), I headed off to Michael’s and A.C. Moore to get acrylic in bright white. Blinding white is also a requirement. I was astounded to find that this stuff actually comes in 1-lb skeins—and I’m now the proud owner of two of these. And I knitted my first blanket.
I was not happy when the blanket came off the needles. It looked lumpy in a way that wool would not.
The only thing I knew about blocking acrylic was not to put your iron directly onto the knitting because it would melt on your iron. I did not learn this from knitting with acrylic—back in about 1968, I bought Ban-Lon fabric for a dress. When I pressed the seams, they stuck to the iron, nearly ruining it, and the dress with the melted bits ended up in the trash. I scoured Ravelry and the net to learn more about acrylic, and I found you could “kill” it. That was enormously appealing—but it really means that you change the texture of the fiber through high heat. So I employed a trick from sewing on delicate fabric and used a pressing cloth and heavy steam. I don’t buy expensive pressing cloths. I simply take a large piece of unbleached muslin, wash it in a washer, and then use it as a barrier between my iron and the thing I’m ironing. I pinned the blanket to the ironing board, and covered it with the muslin pressing cloth:
I did not place the iron on the pressing cloth, but held it about a half-inch away.
When I killed my blanket (how I love saying that), it morphed from a thick, gloppy piece of knitting to a blanket that was smooth as (almost) silk:
I never tried blocking acrylic knitting yarn in the old days, and I must say that acrylic has improved, but not enough for me to knit with it willingly. Here is Linda at HOH holding my blanket for a final shot before I handed it in.
Here are several of the regulars, with Jeanette (an amazing quilter too) showing us one of her quilts.
This afternoon, I’m headed for more knitting in the real world.