"Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber." Proverbs 31:19 NLT

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bandstand Sweater #2 and How NOT to Block a Wool Sweater

After I finished my summer Bandstand sweater I said I wasn't going to make another one. And then I saw Valley Yarn Northampton on sale at yarn.com. Man-o-man, I fell in love (so to speak) with it in the color of Stratosphere. AND it was on sale for just over $3.50 USD a skein. Ohhhh, such a great price - I succumbed. I know it is risky ordering yarn you've never felt of it, especially wool yarn. But I won on this purchase. Northampton is so great - very soft with a lot of spring for bouncing back into shape. (But that stretch did cause a bit of a problem - more on that.)

I got enough to make the Bandstand sweater again, and proceeded to knit it. I finished it fairly quickly but I did have a few hang-ups on the sleeves. So I decided not to do the mock cable all the way around the sleeves, but to extend a cable and 2 coordinating mock cables down the sleeve from either side of the bodice of the sweater.

And I did the sleeves flat, seaming them up after they were finished. That was much easier than continually swiveling the entire sweater every few stitches on the circulars. So here is the result:

But in the blocking of this sweater and from the experience of a friend who used my method for blocking, I have learned a valuable lesson: how NOT to block a wool sweater knitted from ready-made wool yarn.

I have often blocked handspun garments by wetting them, carefully picking them up with underneath support so as not to stretch the garment out and then spinning the item in the washing machine to get out the extra moisture. And have not had a problem. This Bandstand sweater fit well before the blocking but unknown to me that when the yarn got wet, it became very stretchy. I gently laid it out onto my big "blocking blanket" (because I don't have blocking mats) on the floor and pinned it down. I then covered it with another heavy blanket and left it. It went from this fit:

to this fit:

Fortunately, the sweater still fits me well all the way around and can now be worn with leggings and boots. So I made matching boot toppers and called it good. BUT it could have been a disaster. As a result, I am now recommending laying wool sweaters out on your blocking surface, pinning them down to size and spraying them like crazy to get them good and wet. Then laying your blanket over the top. That way you don't have to lift the wet garment at all.

One of my friends knitted a cute loose-fitting vest and blocked the way I recommended. Her vest is now slightly mis-shapen and too large. She is fixing the problem by crocheting all around it and skipping stitches that she picks up, so she can pull it back into shape and size. I feel responsible but don't really know what to do about it. I can't crochet. Hopefully it will be adorable when she is finally finished with it - AGAIN!

A bit about the boot toppers, I have made this pattern before and thought it would tie in well with the scalloped edge of the sweater. They are Feather Lace Boot Toppers. I, of course used the same yarn as the sweater, worsted weight with needle sizes US #7 and #8.

Sorry about the decapitation. I had just walked the dog, cooled down slightly and put on the wool sweater and boots for this photo. Not a pretty sight. I should have had someone take a picture on Saturday when I attended our local yarn shop's open house - new location - and I wore the outfit after showering and fixing up myself. :^)

Let me know your thoughts on the outcome of the blocking or on the sweater in general. And remember, I am going to have a yarn giveaway. Next week I will be doing a blog post on my newest completed sweater, knitted with Cascade 220 paints and I will be do a drawing for the leftover yarn - I had waaay too much. The winner will be selected from those leaving comments on that post. Keep your eyes peeled.


  1. I really love the way your sweater turned into a tunic and think you'll get a lot of wear from it. The colour is beautiful and the matching boot toppers really sets it off. You were very fortunate though that the blocking didn't end up being a disaster! You really have to be careful with wool when it is wet.

    1. I thought I was being careful, Gillian. But apparently not careful enough. No more wet blocking wool for me. Just spraying.

  2. That sweater is so great! I even like it the *new* length! :) It's a very pretty color, too.


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