Saturday, March 16, 2013

A productive week

My first announcement, unrelated to the topic of this post: Kurt has a family! Thank you, God! I will post more details as I learn them, if his family permits me.

I'm on spring break this week, so I've been home. A lot of this week has been spent relaxing and hanging out with my family. It's been nice. We've been doing a lot of the early, big-picture stages of wedding planning. (Due to my failure as a blogger, there was no official announcement, but yes, I'm engaged.) We have good leads on reception places, I've talked to a priest a little bit, and I've got a dress! (No, no pictures yet--K reads this blog. Sorry. Check back in June or July 2014.) Sophie and I have got some plans for bridesmaid dresses, which are also not at the publicly revealable stage.

J realized this week that my getting married means that I will be changing my last name and moving into a different house. Tears were narrowly averted. She's not the only one who's had to face some unpleasant news: in the last few days, I've suddenly realized that I have a LOT of stuff to sort out in between now and moving into my own real house. (I'm moving off campus next year, but that totally doesn't count, right? Right?) I have several drawers and shelves full of stuff. And wayyyy too many books I haven't read. (The solution, of course, is to read more, not get rid of books.)

In poking through some of my drawers to see exactly how bad things are, I found an old knitted skirt that I started my senior year of high school and never finished. This skirt had been languishing for years thanks to my mistaken belief that acrylic can't be blocked. I thought the poor thing was forever doomed to look like this:

That's not really a skirt, of course. That's one of the swatches I made to test out a couple different ways of blocking. The skirt, the Luminarie skirt by Annie Modesitt, is made of entrelac blocks of that pattern. You can look at my project page on Ravelry. It doesn't have photos up right now because I don't have any of the actual skirt. But rest assured it looks a lot like that picture, just bigger.

Anyway, so I recently discovered that acrylic can indeed be blocked. It just needs to be steamed, not wet blocked. I also discovered that you can "kill" or melt acrylic. So I knitted two little blocks. I steamed one and killed the other to see which I liked more. The result was clear, although the pictures don't show it very well.

See how the stitches of the one on the top (the killed one) have kind of blurred together? I don't like that as much as the regular steam blocked one (on the bottom), where each stitch retains its individuality and the texture stands out more. So I'll be steaming the actual skirt once I have done the crocheted border. (Side note, I had to buy a crochet hook, and I found six at JoAnn's for three dollars. Why aren't knitting needles that cheap?)

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that these swatches are the first things I've ever blocked. One difficulty I was not aware of is that blocking really does shape your knitting. In those pictures, the knitting is pinned down, but both pieces retained the not-quite-rectangular shapes I had pinned them to even after the pins came out. When I block the real skirt, I'm going to have to be careful of the edges.

So this project is well on its way to completion. I will be home again briefly over Easter break, and before then I hope to have this skirt and Kurt's blanket completely done. That's one border, some finishing, and two blocking jobs in two weeks--eminently reasonable if I can keep myself disciplined. Of course, I also have two papers and a grant proposal due before then. Wish me luck!

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