Sunday, 20 July 2008

Knitter's Block

Tennis champ Bjorn Borg used to wear a T-shirt that said "Remember, to a tennis player love means nothing". The different meanings we attach to words has been on my mind this week as I've been enjoying using my wonderful new blocking board (mucho thanks to Other Half for wielding the staple gun!). In cricket, blocking is a defensive stroke batsmen play to stay in the crease. Writers talk about being blocked when they are stuck, unable to progress their work. As a knitter I can recognise this phenomenon but for us the words blocked and blocking also have another meaning - the process of pinning out a completed piece of knitting to its correct size and applying water and/or heat to facilitate sewing up. I have to confess that I've always been extremely lazy about blocking. Once the knitting is completed all I want is to get the sewing bit over as quickly as possible. Recently, though, I made a pair of baby bootees with a stocking-stitch sole which, in the nature of that stitch, was curling up. Being so tiny this was making sewing up a challenge. Pinning and blocking by waving a hot iron over the dampened piece of knitting and leaving it to dry made it really flat for sewing up. Now I'm hooked.
Far from representing stuckness, knitter's block can create progress. Having my swanky new blocking board (two towels wrapped onto chipboard and covered with a cool green check tablecloth) has also "unblocked" my languishing cardigan project. I've pinned out the back and two fronts ready for sewing-up before going on to the next difficult bit: working out the pattern for the sleeves, which I want to make three quarter length. I've also finished knitting my throw and begun Module 1 of my City & Guilds course. This connection between the two types of "block", has been made by setting goals to complete various projects and a commitment to having the right tools to make this possible. Another recent acquisition has been a leather knitting belt, which I bought on Shetland the other week.