Q: What do Knitters do on vacation?
A: They Crochet!
Yeah. Okay. Probably should not have gone there. But the truth is sometimes I just want to crochet. As much as I will forever love my ever-expanding and all-consuming (space-consuming?) collection of knitting paraphernalia, sometimes the kinetic part of my brain prefers the knotted quality of crochet over the warp & weft of my latest knitting project.
When I found myself unexpectedly taking some time off this summer, I dug into the deepest recesses of my project corner and pulled out a long neglected white crochet doily. I figured the virtuous feeling which follows completion would more than compensate for deviating from yarn and needles.
Virtuosity aside, it was fun. I had fun. The pattern was beautiful, the result made me feel competent in crochet, and I could finally check off something on my To-Make list.
And then the doily pattern was done. I, however, was not. So I went through my recently expanded collection of Victorian Needlework pdf.s and came up with a new project which I could use to finish off supplies left over from the previous project. Unsurprisingly enough, a second crochet doily fit the bill. While the original doily was motivated by a request, the combination of snowflake and spiderweb in my newly discovered 19th century pattern was intriguing, and all the chained crochet stitches meant I wouldn’t be spending forever making it.
I finished the second doily in record time, and then blocked both doilies side by side. Which leads me to the hint:
The Hint – Blocking on Boards
Blocking is one of my least favorite parts of the creation process. Partly because of the inactivity of waiting for something to dry, partly because I am a poor manager of straight-pins: one accidental brush of the hand and they fly everywhere. I inevitably miss picking one up off the floor and manage to find it in my foot weeks later.
Where to block is another tough one. Towel? Mattress? Cardboard? Carpet-swatch? Cutting-board? More recently, my choice had been to use the pad covering the ironing board (high enough to be safe from animals and small children, I’m used to standing there and working, the fabric was durable and clean, pins didn’t leave a billion holes, etc.), but there was the not-insignificant con of not being able to iron anything until I got around to the pin removal process.
Which is why I present to you my latest, and most superior method yet: A woven-fabric bulletin board with aluminum frame.
These boards have the following benefits for those-who-must-block:
- Pins: Actually made for use with pins, including straight pins, without damaging the board. Also, the stiff back allows for pinning things very tightly–it won’t stretch or give like fabric/towels/ironing boards.
- Prompt Drying Time: The breathable quality of the foam means things dry more quickly (click the picture of the corner for a closeup of the fabric/foam combo)
- Portable: More or less, depending on what size you purchase. Mine is large enough for sweaters, but I still move it from room to room depending on where I need it.
- Price: Frequently found on sale alongside other school/office supplies
- Photos: The dark background provides an easy, high contrast photography surface without bounce
- Polyester: The synthetic bulletin board fabric won’t bleed any color onto your natural fibers
- Put-it-Away: You can hang it on the wall (and pin patterns to it) when not in use
In my case, I already had a woven-fabric bulletin board like the one pictured on the wall, so it was an incredibly easy solution. The excellent portability meant that I managed to carry the whole shebang–pinned doilies and all–to three different rooms before I got around to photographing and unpinning. As a further benefit, my woven-fabric blocking board has a magnetic white board on the reverse, so I store it with the whiteboard side facing the room.
Come to think of it, that board really gets a lot of use, knitting and otherwise. For a long time, the whiteboard side was divided into sections featuring a list of knitting pattern ideas, two scientific papers on my reading list, an algorithm for a computer program I was working on, a list of deadlines, several pictures from my favorite five-year-old artist…
And I digress.
Happy Knitting Everyone!