How not to block a sweater

It’s been two weeks since my last post.  I went away on a fabulous family holiday during which I never even looked at the internet.  Not once.  We went to Lebanon and were completely blown away by the place – the people, the culture, the weather, the food, the landscape, the language. I loved it.  I hope to write a post about it someday soon.  But this is a post about how a knitter packs for a holiday, and the sometimes stupid things that entails.

We left for the airport on Saturday morning.  I had been rushing around all week trying to get things tied up, both at work and at home, so that I could get everything done beforehand and enjoy my holiday.  In the back of my mind all week, however, was the state of my Neon cardigan.  You see, I had only 5 inches of one sleeve left to go, and then the finishing: sewing the sleeve seams and putting in the button bands.  I wanted to be able to finish the cardigan in Lebanon and then be able to wear it there.  It matched everything I wanted to pack, and it is the perfect summer cardigan.

This caused a dilemma, however.  I wouldn’t be able to block it on holiday.  We would be staying with family who I had never met.  I knew that the floors in the house would be tiled, so I would probably need a bed to block it on.  I didn’t want to wash a red sweater (one that was bound to seriously bleed the first time it was washed), wrap it up in towels, and then more towels, and then spread it out on someone’s bed and pin it and let it dry for a few days.  That would be rude.  (Ha! Ha!  This is precisely what I did to my friend Teresa last year when I was on holiday and needed to block my Killybegs sweater; I arrived at her house and within 5 minutes I had the sweater in the sink and was borrowing armfuls of towels.  But you see, I have known Teresa long enough to be rude!)

On the Friday evening before we left, while still having packing to do, I decided to try to finish the sleeve, and then block the sweater before we went.  This meant that I would have to block it before I sewed the sleeve seams, which after great internal debate I figured would be OK.  It also meant that I would be washing and blocking it at midnight before my morning flight.  There is absolutely no way it would be dry in time.  But we knitters have a way of justifying the stupid and impossible.  So, I wasted a few hours that were really needed for other things and finished knitting the sleeve, and washed and blocked the sweater.

I had a cunning plan, you see.  Emma has a very powerful hair dryer, with a cool air setting.  I set my alarm clock for very early in the morning, and came downstairs, hair dryer in hand, with the intent of blowing cool air over it until it dried.  I plugged in the hair dryer, turned it on high, and aimed it at a corner of the cardigan.  And then the hair dryer blew up.  I kid you not.  THE HAIR DRYER BLEW UP!  Little pieces of plastic drifted all over my lovely Neon sweater and smoke filled the air.

OK, by now any sane person would give this up as a lost cause, right?  What did I do?  I spent ten minutes picking pieces of plastic off the cardigan, and then pulled out all of the  pins and carefully carried it on the towel outside.  Remember it was still pretty early in the morning so the sun hadn’t carried into the back garden.  I had to put it out in the front walkway.  To make things worse, the wind was blowing like mad, and little petals from the trees were blowing around in the wind.  The sweater would not stay in place.

So, I ran back in the house and grabbed two shoes, and ran back out, in my nightgown (did I forget to mention I was still in my nightgown?) and placed the shoes on the sleeves to try to hold the sweater in place:

IMG_6707I then frantically ran around alternately throwing things in suitcases, checking things off lists, turning off appliances, getting dresed, and running outside to check and make sure the cardigan hadn’t blown away.  Soon enough, the taxi came, and of course my lovely Neon wasn’t dry.  Did I give up?  No.  I ran to get a plastic bag, carefully folded Neon away and packed it in a suitcase.  Yes, it is insane to put  a partially damp, sort-of blocked sweater in a suitcase and take it on a plane.  Any reasonable person would have left it at home to dry properly.  (And I haven’t even mentioned the mountains of other knitting I had packed in my bags; it’s not like I wouldn’t have any other projects to work on.)  When I got to Lebanon, I reasoned, I would set it out to finish drying, and then I would be able to knit up the button bands and do the finishing.

In the taxi, I turned to my daughter and said “Hey Emma, how would you like a brand new hair dryer?”

As  a final note, I was so busy on my holiday that I didn’t knit on Neon at all.   I forgot that finishing work took concentration and this was the kind of holiday for mindless knitting, if any.  So Neon came back home in the same shape she left, only drier.  And this has been my tale of how not to block a sweater.

12 thoughts on “How not to block a sweater

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