Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn Crawl is on through Sunday, September 25.

The Cat Is Out of the Tub

Dear Ann,
You know me: not a big blocker. I don’t like to fuss. I just wet the thing, plaster it to a flat surface, eyeball it for rough symmetry, and aim Rowenta in the general direction for a couple of blasts. That usually makes me feel that I Have Blocked And It Is Good.
But we’ve spoken of Exchange Anxiety, and how it makes us mad to prove that we are good enough, we are smart enough, and doggone it, people like us! In the case of Kiri, Exchange Anxiety has driven me to Pin Blocking. (Aw, I’m just kidding. Any fool can see that a laceweight mohair shawl needs a couple of hundred pins to straighten up and fly right. I’d have done it anyway, exchange or no exchange.)
And because I did it, I documented doing it. I don’t have anything to add to the Art and Science of Blocking here. I just needed to validate my Personal Blocking Experience. So here goes. Watch and learn. Critique if you must. I can take it.
Kiri in a state of glamorous deshabille. Frothy, zaftig, but not ready for her close-up, Mr. DeMille. Note the undulations. We will not be having any undulations in our shawl. Ve vill block! Mit ze pins!
I was worried about the cast-off edge. Polly said cast off loosely. So I did. But it seemed too loose.
Kiri floats! I have to say, the moment just before the plunge was thrilling. (Product endorsement: Eucalan Lavender. Just the thing for bathing baby goat hair.)
This is what Polly was talking about when she warned that a soaked Kiri was like hauling a cat out of the tub. The preferred technique is to gather the whole wet mess into two hands, and lift it out without stretching it. Then squish. Squish a lot. No rubbing! Give it your most respectful squish!
Then you spread a sheet over your bed, get out your measuring tape and pin the thing into the mattress. Hope it’s dry by bedtime!
When blocked, the fern leaves get very geometric. So soothing. So lovely. The transparency and slight irregularity of those stacked yarnovers is thrilling. Like real leaves.
On the clothesline, looking into the neighbors’ wooded lot. Mighty fine! Kiri measures just shy of 80 inches across the top. With 15 leaves on each side of the center, she took a few yards more than 3 balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze in the shade called ‘Trance’, which on Earth, and in English, is called ‘light teal’, or ‘pale blue-green’, or something similarly informative.
In Other Earthshattering News
Last week. in Unrelated Incidents, I taught 3 kids to knit. The youngest was The Artist Formerly Known as Baby Rose, who is still weeks away from her fourth birthday. She learned to finger knit. She was motivated by a strong desire for chic, drip-dry beach adornment.
Rose made an ankle bracelet that Paloma Picasso would covet. She totally GETS IT. Forms her slip-knots like a pro.
I leave you with a gratuitous shot of Bathing Beauties 2005:
It took 4 women 48 hours of unrelenting vigilance and menial labor to bring you this image of happy, sun-toasted, grit-blasted, popsicle-dripping children. And by god, it was worth it.
Love, Kay




  1. Trance is not an informative color descriptor, but it does describe my current state after admiring your beautifully blocked shawl. Well done!

  2. Gorgeous, the girls and the shawl. Maybe I shouldn’t be afraid of KSH, maybe I should move Wee C away from cutting her knit (that would be her designated Red Heart skein) ~

  3. Absolutely fabulous! The knit, the girls, the beach. Yay for Summer!
    (Don’t tell anyone I just said that – I’m on the record hating Summer.)

  4. ooooooooooooo. Beautiful. All of it.
    Thanks for the reminder about the loose cast-off…although it would probably come more in handy if I’d actually cast on and knit the thing first, but…it’s good to know that and keep it in mind for when I take the plunge.

  5. LOL Lee Ann, it’s like ‘Tips For Accepting Your Nobel Prize’. Tip 1: Do something to win the Nobel Prize. Tip 2: Call us when you’ve done that, and we’ll tell you more tips.
    But I just know that that loose cast-off tip is going to come in real handy for you someday. Really. xoxo Kay

  6. Hurray! Congrats on a) a beautiful Kiri and b) having an actual beach moment.
    I wonder how many Kiris there are in the world. And Clapotises. Did I mention that Martha Stewart’s new show begins September 12, and if you are willing to wear your Martha poncho, you get a free ticket? Close your eyes and imagine 300 Martha ponchos in one room . . .

  7. Your Kiri is a thing of ethereal beauty. And the little girls are adorable!

  8. The Kiri is a work of art! Thanks for sharing this treasure!

  9. Wow – what a beautiful Kiri! I may have to move my up the list of “what to knit.”

  10. A PSA post! Yes, Kay, this is a true public service announcement because the plunge into Kiri is right around the corner and you know me, the anti-blocker…I was already having shivers. But the process looks so friendly and calm in your photo array.
    Special points for your courage in taking Kiri to a beach location. My growing stash of KSH (kshstash — I like it) is not going anywhere NEAR my kids and sand!

  11. Kiri is looking tranquil! Lovely.

  12. After this, my Birch in Trance (entranced Birch?) moves nearer the top of my too long WIP docket. Kiri she is beautiful, Kay!
    Here’s another idea for craftin’ with your finger knitting Rose: finger knit a length (10″?) in green then wind it into a turtle shell shape, stitching it together with embroidery floss as you wind (sort of like you’re sewing a braided rug, but with an extra dimension); cut a piece of green felt into the shape of a turtle viewed from above (head, body, and four stubby legs); stitch the knitted piece to the felt. They’re very cute.

  13. A point of clarification for Polly, and perhaps for others: A wet Kiri does not resemble a wet cat, unless the cat in question has (as we learned on this very blog!) “popped his clogs.” In fact a (live) cat in a tub is a very active and unpleasant thing indeed. Also sharp and, well … pointy, but not in the same lovely way as your blocked Kiri.
    Wet cats do not need to be hauled out of the tub — rather, quite often, the individual responsible for immersing the cat needs to be hauled into an ambulance. If you’d like any additional information on the issue, I could get you in touch with my husband, who once attempted a cat bath.
    Poor husband.
    Just another PSA on top of those already offered!
    Kiri is BEAUTIFUL! Lucky Exchangee….

  14. Kiri looks great. I like the color as well as the overall “look”.

  15. Lovely shawl! I am impressed that you were able to get through all that Kid Silk Haze without tearing out all your hair. But, you know, there haven’t been any recent shots of your head …

  16. Gorgeous! Sexy ! Totally fabulous ! A stunningly beautiful Kiri. Really. I feel very proud of you. You conquered lace,and wispy fluff lace at that.
    My Kiri awaits a time slot for blocking – it takes hours longer than you ever think it will.
    The girls look happy,healthy and fresh-airy = my favourite child smell.

  17. oooohhhhh…. color me jealous…..of your neverending talents…..love the fluffiness!

  18. Lovely shawl!
    As for cast-offs on lace, my philosophy is that as long as they are regular, they can’t be too loose. And far better they be too loose and lacey, than too tight and rigid.
    Rowan yarnnames are weird to say the least.

  19. exceptional kiri! are you feeling proud of your mastering of KSH?

  20. OK – so where did the pattern for this one come from? It’s so beautiful…I may just brave the crack silk haze and my latent fear of lace to knit it….

  21. Kay, your Kiri is gorgeous! I’m totally inspired. I did pick up the KSH to join you in the character building–but I’m cheating and working up the current Rowan gift, the Froth scarf–you knit with two strands of KSH held together so its tendency to stick together is headed off at the pass.
    I listened to your advice and started it in air conditioned comfort. I would like to report that back porches in the lovely, low humidity wonderland that is New Hampshire are also nice places for working with the KSH. I could turn into an addict–this stuff is awesome. Persnickety but awesome.

  22. Kiri looks so frothy and ethereal. It is beautiful. How many needle sizes did you go up for the bind-off?
    I got this from Anita/Champagne Bohemian: House of Hemp in the UK names its yarn colors after expressions. Like ouch, wow, and ah. Kind of interesting, kind of “huh”?

  23. That shawl is absolutely gorgeous! Results like this are what inspired me to order my first shawl kit to know!


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