20 April 2008

Sweater Saga Ends in Steam

Someone asked me in the comments some time ago about what my steaming method was. I don't own a real steamer, so use my iron to steam. Molly Ann of Ariadne first showed me this method of steam blocking and for Jane of the short attention span, this has become my new favourite blocking method.

I took a bunch of pictures while steaming stuff and here we go. When re-working the Pink Lopi Raglan (one of the many many times), I steam blocked the yarn before re-starting knitting (one of the times). Mr. Peabody and I thought the crimp leftover from having knit the yarn was affecting the gauge of the knitted sweater.

Here's the yarn after the sweater was frogged. Crimped was in style in the 80s and it should stay there:


I used a ball winder to make little yarn cakes when I ripped out the sweater. Then I took those cakes and wound them into big loops using a couple of chairs (officially skeins, but I wasn't going to be re-twisting them for storage).

Once in big loops, I used my iron (set on the wool setting and steam set to MAX), I steamed steamed steamed the yarn straight again. Barely allowing the iron to touch the yarn, I hit the steam button and let the steam work it's magic through the yarn. One end of the loop around my ironing board and the other in my non-ironing hand, I steam away like this:


Afterwards I had something like this:

Practically brand new yarn! Ready to be knit again without monkeying with my gauge.

Alternative methods of straightening out your kinky kinky yarn would be to hang it next to your shower for a few days. May work faster/better with a weight of some sort on the bottom of the big loop.

Or getting the yarn wet and hanging to dry. If you go for the wet, be sure NOT to agitate it AT ALL and to use ROOM temperature water. Felting=bad. Leave the skein in water to thoroughly wet then hang to dry where you don't mind it dripping a lot. I usually use a hanger off of a shower curtain ring in my bathtub.

Today I finally got around to steam blocking the Pink Lopi Raglan. To prevent from damaging the sweater, I one of those cloth dishrag things soaked in water to provide the steam. Tea towels work well too and give more coverage. I use a cloth dishrag because I don't use them for much else and the cleanliness of my tea towels can be questionable. In my kitchen, the rags are a safer bet. Keep in mind that ironing wet fabric can put scald marks onto the fabric so don't use something precious to you for the purpose of steam blocking.

Lay the wet (but not sopping) cloth on top of your garment to be blocked. Set your iron to the appropriate setting (here I'm blocking wool, so I use the wool setting):

Once your iron is heated up, got to town ironing the CLOTH and not the sweater. The water in the cloth is vapourised by the heat of the iron and the steam settles works it's way into the wool causing it to take a new shape.


After ironing the water out of the cloth a bit, I set down the iron, move the cloth out of the way and tug the sweater vertically and horizontally to even out the stitches. For this sweater, I don't need any more width, so really tugged vertically more than anything.

The cloth will dry out after a few passes with the iron, so I use that spray button on my iron to rewet it. It's probably the only time I've ever used that button.

I worked my way around the sweater, turning it over to steam both sides of the sweater to make sure everything's nice settled down.

Before blocking the knitted fabric looked like this:

After steam blocking, the fabric is much smoother, and has better drape:

For those of you that actually have real steamers, check out Crazy Aunt Purl's Block 'til you drop! tutorial.

Here is the (FINALLY) finished sweater. You can see the only detail on this basic raglan, a purl stitch in between the raglan decreases.

Pattern: Sweater no. 4 from Lopi no. 20
Modifications: Lots of adaptations for gauge (Létt Lopi instead of double stranding Alfoss Lopi)
Materials: Istex Létt-Lopi
Start Date: November 30, 2007
Finished By: April 20, 2008 (took so long due to initial, unfounded angst upon immediate completion)

By no means a perfect sweater, but not horrible either. I'm happy enough with the final product.


But I do wish I had properly blocked the gauge swatch so I may have avoided the 'perfect' sleeves growing well beyond a reasonable length.

I may work up the gumption to fix this while working in those final ends. At least now I don't feel like a complete sweater failure.

In other news, I am still spinning like a mad-woman. I've even tried a wheel. The cuttlefish socks are still in progress, the Noro Surprise Jacket is being reborn and the Sideways pullover is frogged for good.

3 comments:

Pinneguri said...

I was wondering about the spinning, good you had som words to me in the last sentence :)

Your steaming is how we do it (and have always done?) in Norway too. Blocking is a new concept for many of us, but this steaming is how we treat the jumpers and mittens we have knitted and blocked for century's ...

Jennifer Lori said...

Congratulations on finishing the Pink Lopi Raglan! I can't wait to see progress on the Cuttlefish socks though...

Knit & Purl Mama said...

Thanks for the steaming tutorial! The sweater looks great on you.