Sunday, 25 November 2007

Gift Self Esteem Preservation Kit

Or for the more technically minded amongst us: one Blocking Wires and Board kit (two separate items).

Yes, it's arrived - all the way from Texas, via Canada. It has taken weeks and it arrived on the last leg of its journey by personal courier.

I first spotted it wheeling its way towards me last Monday, outside Heathrow Terminal 3 in a cardboard box about 110cm (h) x 30cm (d) x 40cm (w).

I had no idea it would be so big or heavy. Honest. So why all this trouble for something that does not look very interesting? Well for years, I have been following the directions in the back of Rowan booklets:

Finishing Instructions
After working for hours knitting a garment, it seems a great pity that so many garments are spoiled because such little care is taken in the pressing and finishing process... blah blah blah...follow the following tips for a truly professional-looking garment.

Block out each piece of knitting and following the instructions on the ball band press the garment pieces...etc.

Don't get me wrong. I did (and still do) take care when finishing my knitted objects. I spend hours on them - It is just that I have a tendency to very carefully and diligently ruin things.

I always thought that block in this context meant 'pin out'. So I used to pin, dampen some tea towels and get the steam iron out, simply to set to with alarming gusto.

Cue the ubiquituous smell of scorched yarn, followed by the discovery of limp, flat, compressed, out of shape knitting underneath the tea towels.

All bounce and life, vanished. If you add my dreadful inability to seam well into this cement mix of ineptitude - hey presto! I can share with you the self esteem crushing experience of presenting a finished object to its intended gift recipient,

"Hmmm, thank you. You made this for me? You shouldn't have. Really - no, really. Cheap supermarket bath salts would have been more than adequate. Woolworth's vouchers, honest - next year, perfect."

[A crushed Gabrielle smiles brightly, feigns a thick skin and buys more yarn.]

Ok, so my seaming is still suspect. However, this year - enter blocking. Good grief, what a difference this has made - I love it. Spritz item with a little water, ease into shape, pin and leave to dry.

What could be easier? Or more satisfying? My almost compulsive need for symmetry is assuaged by the simple pinning out of garment pieces, aligned and measured out on my ironing board and on the bed in my spare room. This means that all my garment pieces match up when I brave the sewing up part of the making process.

So now that I have acquired this kit, I am full of good quality finishing, self esteem preservation gifting hopes. (Once I have got my dodgy sewing up sorted out.) Well, as soon as I have revved up my knitting speed and created a few Christmas gifts to block?

Ho, ho, ho... (or, if this offends anyone following the Great Father Christmas debate)... Ha, ha, ha!

PS, in my current pursuit of all things in aqua colourways and in memory of a fabulous exhibition that I saw once, I present (purely for worthiness) the Chihuly Chandelier, seen at the V&A again this weekend:

On a slightly less worthy note, have you been to Scoop in Shorts Gardens, near Covent Garden and Neal Street yet?

No? Shame on you. This is the closest to Italian gelato that I have found in London yet...
...yum. I had nutella and hazelnut semi-freddo, with coconut and bourbon vanilla - see?

I must go check out Ryan Air to see my Italian family very soon - very soon. I miss them.

Um...and you see, while Scoop is good, my gelato heart remains firmly loyal to Rosa's, just off Piazza Roma.

ORK Italian gelato opinion: in constant and steady development since 1987.


Dotty said...

Have fun with your blocking bits! I love my wire kit and use it for all sorts of stuff.

I've been dying to ask how your week was... And when you might be visiting Vancouver again :)

Mel said...

I might have to put in an order for a blocking kit next once I have observed the outcome and technical skills required from using yours. We must meet up and do more ice cream before I finish Jury service. Oh and the wheel too! Do you reckon we could get away with wooden DPNs? Last time they whisked my addi turbo circular off me!

Mel said...

Sorry better clarify that - I mean the feedback from you on using yours rather than me kidnapping it and giving it a test drive!