First off, happy 4th of July to all who celebrate it....I am "celebrating" while at work, where I will be all weekend as well. The hospitals are usually somewhat empty around holidays, except for accidents, so it looks to be a quiet weekend (any nurse reading this will wince in anticipation of the giant come-down from the universe coming for using the Q word).
I was thinking over my completed Desert Sun, and feeling like I wasn't really satisfied with the blocking job I had done. I am not the most flexible person in the world, and with the cats helping as well it is challenging to crawl around on the floor pinning the shawl. So....I asked my father to build me a blocking frame (that link is a pdf), and he did! Daddy always builds me beautiful stuff, and this is no exception. It was a definite case of trial and error getting the shawl up onto the frame, and Jess and I learned a lot of good lessons for next time (somewhere, Jess is saying "THERE WON'T BE A NEXT TIME, CRAZY.).
This was the first attempt. We never took it completely off after this, instead persevering with what we had, but we realized that we were going to need a lot more string to tie it on. I also needed a few stiff drinks, but I held off. I misread the instructions which recommended three times the length OF EACH SIDE rather than three times the length of the whole piece. We also should have cut several lengths rather than one looooooong length. There were some serious knot issues. We overcame a lot of those problems and got here (and I also sprayed the shawl numerous times with a quirt bottle of water to keep it damp)...
....which is about where Jess had the brilliant idea of stringing up a bullseye to indicate the center of the frame and then she did some mathy things to figure out exactly how many inches I should stretch each point and then....
Perfection. We moved the frame to the porch door to get natural light the next day. It is amazing. Perfectly round, a perfect bullseye, and the lace loved it.
All of the stitches evened out, and then I cut it down to weave in the ends, and the lace just....stayed perfect.
There are a lot more pictures over at Flickr, in a set. One other thing I learned...string the cotton through yarn overs if at all possible. This may seem like an obvious thing, but I strung the cotton through the knit stitches on the point because I thought it would make a prettier point. It was so hard to work knotted string through the damp shawl. When we had to add thread and catch some point on the frame, we went through the yarn overs at the point instead, and it's impossible to tell the difference.
I can't wait to use the frame again (thank you Daddy!)-I'll still block on the floor with wires for stoles and scarves but this is the way to go for large round, square or triangular shawls.
Again, a happy and safe holiday for all who celebrate it!