June 3, 2007

Shawl Update

Dudes. This shawl is messing with my head.

On Friday, I finished the seventh pattern repeat and was feeling confident that eight repeats would give me a healthy size. But, thought I, what if blocking the shawl makes it grow more than I anticipate? Maybe, just maybe, I'll get lucky and seven repeats will be enough.

So, before proceeding to the top finishing, I slipped it off the needles and onto some waste yarn to block it in that condition and see what would happen. Before its bath, I measured it. I was disquieted to find it smaller than I thought it would be. I tried not to get too bummed out, because this whole exercise was balancing on the potential for shawl expansion due to blocking.

Into the bath it went. And can I just tell you? As soon as it hit the water, I felt it stiffen and constrict to a near-alarming degree. Maybe it just needs to get really good and soaked, I hoped. So I left in in the tub for a good long time to think about what it had done.

Oh, the dismay I felt when I took it out and it looked even smaller yet! I stretched and tugged and pinned it out then measured again. It was one inch shorter than pre-soaking. Ugh.

Much fretting ensued. At this rate, I would need at least 9, but probably 10 repeats to get to an acceptable size. I don't know if I have that kind of time. Each repeat gets longer and progress is not terribly fast. The combination of the slippery bamboo yarn and involved pattern compels me to knit slowly and deliberately to avoid dropping stitches or making egregious errors. Fixing those problems substantially gobbles time.

Maybe I don't need to sleep and can gain knitting time that way? Maybe I don't block it again at the end, just mail it? Maybe I confess the whole deal to Mom and beg understanding? Maybe I look into a store bought birthday gift and this will make a lovely Christmas present?

But now for the mind-bending part. Last night, after it had been pinned out for a little more than 24 hours, I unpinned it. It was still slightly damp and I wanted to flip it over and move it to a dryer section of towel so it would hopefully be all dry this morning. So I unpin it and flap it a bit and then drape it over my shoulders and what the...?? It's bigger now. By about five inches. It's not big enough to finish it off. I still need to add the eighth repeat (and maybe ninth if I can), but I certainly don't need to do 10 repeats.


But still. I'm not crazy, right? That is weird, yes? I mean any time I've seen something grow from blocking, I've seen the extra size during pinning, if not as soon as it comes out of the water. I've never stretched and tugged and pinned an item down only to have it get bigger when I unpin it.

It's still going to be a big push to get through nine repeats. If you don't hear from me for a few days, don't worry. I'll be knitting.