I’m starting to think blocking is one of those knitting skills that will always remain something of a mystery to me.

Sweater, ok, pretty easy. Socks? That’s what sock blockers are for.

But lace.

Lace perplexes me.

I’m not an obsessive shawl knitter, I think I’ve done four or five. But when I get that final misshapen blob in my hand after it comes off the needles, I always become a little apprehensive about the next step.


Perhaps I could make this easier on myself if I brought blocking wires. There’s no shortage of them as far as I’m aware, and when I see photos of people using them to block shawls, the shawls look uniform and perfectly-shaped, so they must work.

But something is holding me back.

I suspect it’s the idea of having a safety net.

If I try to block something and winds up looking like a cobweb wrapped in fly paper, I can always say, "Oh, you know, I’m sure this would’ve turned out better if I’d used blocking wires."

You see? I’m not to blame. It’s the lack of materials.


So I soldier on with my regular pins.

I usually start at the top, and try to pin it out nice and straight. It usually ends up looking more like a spine afflicted by scoliosis, but I really try my best.

Then I stretch out the center, and pin that down.

Then I start on the sides, working a segment on each side evenly.

And here’s where I seem to fail.

Because no matter how hard I try, the segments never seem to work out evenly. And by the time I work up to the corners, I’ve got a bunch of extra fabric and no space to pin it out.

So then I have to unpin the top and try again.

Or if I determine there can’t possibly be anything wrong with the top, I unpin everything, and try again, working down from the corners, rather than up from the center.

Until it’s become a drawn out exercise in unpinning things, which is no great skill, and I fail to see any advantage in practicing it so much.

And finally it’s done, but it's asymmetrical, with random bits sticking out in odd directions.

And also, the edges look so . . . pointy. What that about? It’s a shawl, not a dog collar.

If anyone is looking to start a business blocking other people’s shawls, I will be your first customer.