Road Block(ing)

As previously mentioned, I was out of town this last weekend to attend my godbrother’s wedding. Road trips usually bring out my restless crafting syndrome, so I make a point to bring multiple projects (cause a little progress on five projects is still progress!). However, this trip I found myself getting a rhythm on my Rocky Mountain Aspens shawl.  I bound off as we made our way into Cincinnati. Chuffed, I realized it perfectly coordinated with the top I’d picked out for post-wedding brunch, but like most knits hot off the needles it didn’t look “hot.”

Unblocked Rocky Mountain Aspens

Now, I’m no stranger to blocking in hotel rooms, but I knew I was going to finish those projects. I wanted to wear them on those trips. I brought pins, wool wash, and something to pin the piece to. Finishing this shawl on this trip was a genuine surprise to me (like I said, restless craft syndrome), so what do you do when your usual blocking supplies are at home?

A Guide to Unconventional Blocking on the Road:

Blocking in a hotel sink

  1. Use the bathroom sink to soak your knit or crochet piece. If you’re traveling with companions, double check that they haven’t used it to dump coffee or red wine (speaking from experience).
  2. Since wool wash is not a commonly provided amenity in most hotels, the little bottle of shampoo they do provide is an excellent substitute. The amount you use should be TINY, and you want to make sure that it’s rinsed out of your piece. Leave it to soak about 10 minutes, or however long you normally block for. To rinse, drain the sink and refill with fresh water. Gently move your piece around in the fresh water, and repeat if necessary (but if you only used a tiny amount of shampoo, once should do it).
  3. Roll the piece in a towel to remove excess water. From here, most knitted and crocheted fabrics need to lay flat and dry, but what if you want to open up lace, like I have in my shawl? Without pins, what are you to do? Michele of Hummingbird Moon told me a hotel blocking trick she used on a doily: gravity. That’s right, it’s not as ideal as pins, but in a pinch hanging your wet lace opens it up. Michele used a balcony railing, and a lot of hotels have retractable clotheslines in their showers now, but we were in a hotel that had neither. Desperate, I ended up using hangers:

hanging shawl

Obviously it was less that ideal. I left it to hang for about an hour and a half, which opened up the lace nicely. Then, while it was still a little wet, I took it down to lie it flat and straighten out that top edge. It was dry in time to wear to brunch!

Me wearing my Rocky Mountain Aspens

And while we were there at brunch, I decided that I hated it… It’s not really a shawl as much as a scarf. As I was thinking about who might actually appreciate it, or what I could make instead if I frogged it, I realized what specifically I didn’t like about it: the shape and the top selvage. I still loved that lace that I so painstakingly opened with unconventional blocking.  So could this project be saved for me after all? Well, I have a plan, it’s in the process of being executed, and it’ll be a story for a later date. So, as usual, please stay tuned!

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