Well, color me embarrassed. I finished assembling this gorgeous sweater (Anjou from French Girl Knits), wrangled Adam into taking some photos of it, and started processing the images so I could put together this blog post. And I just simply couldn’t find the photos I took of blocking the sweater. I really wanted to share them because I wanted to share a creative solution I came up with in the process, but they were nowhere to be found. Until I dug back a whole year! I have had this sweater knit, blocked, and just needing to attach the sleeves and hem band for a year. Talk about procrastination!
Well, now that we have that embarrassing fact behind us, lets take a look at this sweater! It’s a lace sweater that I knit in a 100% Alpaca lace yarn. The body is knit in the round. The hem bands and sleeves are knit separately and attached to the body. I think the major cause of my hardcore procrastination is that when I grafted the first sleeve to the body, I did it inside out. And ripped it off and started over, again inside out. So, I got frustrated and shoved it in the back of my knitting drawer for an embarrassingly long time.
I enjoyed this yarn, having used it in a different color on a sweater for my mom with another pattern from this same book, French Girl Knits. It’s a sturdy lace yarn with a soft shine and a nice halo. This is the fifth sweater that I’ve knit from the book (all of the others are pre-blog but follow their links to Ravelry if you want more info) – Sophia cardigan, Paloma blouse, Delphine top, and Celeste wrap. I think I’ve finally exhausted the patterns I like from this book, but I definitely recommend the book, and I’m happy to share opinions on any of the other projects if anyone is interested.
Blocking is super important when knitting lace, and this sweater is no exception. Looking at the hem band, you can see some stitch definition, but it’s not crisp at all before blocking.
I laid the hem band out on my blocking mats. I ran a lace blocking wire through every stitch at the top of the band because I wanted it to stay perfectly flat. At the bottom, I ran it through only the very tip of the stitch so that I could pull it into sharp points. The red marks where the hem band mirrors pattern and was removed after I grafted the band to the sweater.
After copious amounts of hot steam, I remove the wires and the band stays put! It softens a bit as you wear it, but the hot steam really locks it into position so it will always hold much of the block if your future washings are gentle.
For the body, I was having a hard time getting it pinned out to block because it’s knit in the round. So, I came up with an ingenious solution (although I’m sure plenty of other people have thought of this before me). I put it on my dress form and steam blocked it there! I have a homemade duct tape dressform (that mostly sits high on a shelf), but it was perfect for this application. Before trying this on your dress form, make sure that high temperatures and a soaking of water (steam turns back to water when it cools, y’all) won’t hurt the dressform.
The one vague direction in the pattern is to cast on loosely for the neck. I really hate that instruction because I never know if I’ve done it loosely enough. But it has to be tight enough that it holds shape. But it will stretch as the sweater is knit. But it can only stretch so far… Gah! I knit the whole rest of the sweater concerned that the neck wouldn’t be right when I was done. But, it was. So all that stress was for nothing. (Story of my life!).