Foxton Spin-In, Blocking a Shawl … and Block Party

Early in October a bus load of us traveled to the other side of the island to the Foxton Spin-In.  Lots of yummy wool, lavender products and soy candles to name a few of the goods on sale.  The morning and afternoon teas were scrumptious! Why else do we go to these things if not for eating and buying?

Most years at our Spin-In we have a fashion parade. As we had invited Elizabeth and Richard Ashford to speak at our Spin In, we decided not to have our usual fashion parade. So, I was interested to see what the folk at Foxton were up to in terms of fashion. Their fashion parade was not entirely of their members work, but the work of selected people from all over. An ‘eagle eyed scout’ gives everyone a look up and down as they come through the door and those chosen are later asked about their item and if they would be prepared to model it. Some were garments that had been made many years ago, others completed in more recent times. One of our members, Helga was invited to model her multi-coloured cardigan. Congratulations Helga!

The title of this blog is Foxton and Blocking a Shawl, and you are wondering why the connection.  One of the garments proudly shown was Tracy Henwood’s Seafoam Crescent Shawl published in Issue 29 of the Wheel. When I saw the shawl in the Ashford’s magazine I knew it needed to be on My Bucket List.  It is simply knitted with a garter stitch section at the top and a feather and fan section at the lower edge. The shawl starts at the centre back, with six stitches, and is increased at the end of each row. If you have knitted a shawl in this manner you will know that a triangle is formed.

This didn’t make a lot of sense to me as the garter stitch section is knitted first and is worn by the model in the magazine with the garter stitch section at the top. So, like many things we are unsure of we put it to one side. Shawl 2 Blog

Well, the pretty shawl shown at Foxton galvanized me into action. After all, I did have the lace blocking wires and the blocking pieces that linked together sitting waiting for me to undertake the Blocking Adventure.

Here is a photo of the shawl unpressed and unblocked. Not really fit for the purpose.  Well, not like the pattern picture. The method of increasing formed a fairly tight edge, which made me somewhat nervous about the whole thing. Let alone how the pointy bit at the start was going to become a straight edge!Shawl 1 Blog

I did what I do best and consulted Mr Google and Mrs Pinterest and discovered that a long soak in water was required and that wool has an amazing amount of stretch when wet, which I had previously learnt the hard way. Into the tub went the shawl and the mat laid out on my new guest bathroom floor.

Shawl 3 BlogIt took awhile to stretch it out and to pin every section out.  I left it for two or three days and then unpinned it and took the wires out – NOW my shawl looks the right shape.

What did I learn? – I learnt to have faith in both the pattern instructions and myself. If you too, are unsure about blocking a piece, just get on with it and do it!

Here’s two pictures of me modeling the shawl at spinning a couple of weeks ago.

I bet the Block Party in the heading got you excited too, wondering if I was going to share with you a party where there are lots of blocks – if you are a quilter you will have lots of experience with ‘Blocks’. In knitting we tend to think of blocks as ‘Squares.’  More about blocking. Sorry to disappoint, this party was centered around the street block.  You could say this is the  cultural centre of Masterton.  It’s where The Woolshed Museum, Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, Conart, King Street Artworks and Masterton Library.

You probably know The Woolshed is where our club rooms are located. The Block Party took place on the Saturday of Labour Weekend. We decided to sit outside and spin and other members sat outside a yarn shop and knitted. But prior to that we did some yarn bombing. We had a largish space to cover and not a lot of yarn.  It was a great way to lift our profile. Three of us sat beside the footpath and spoke to almost everyone who walked past – some don’t make eye contact, so had to speak with them. One young lady commented that if there was a power outage we could still continue to spin, which is why she liked the idea of spinning.


Mary found this yarn bomb around the corner.

Mary's tree blog

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