Brace yourselves, people. Not only am I channeling the silliest superhero sidekick of all time (as evidenced by the headline on this post). I actually feel like leaping for joy and doing a happy dance. For Stornoway (i.e. His part of The Great His & Hers Guernsey adventure, which began on July 11, 2009) is now 100% complete. I finished the second sleeve on October 3rd after about 3 1/2 weeks of pleasant and uneventful knitting, and immediately set the sweater to soak while I put together the brand new and quite literally shiny woolly board that I bought from Camilla Valley Farm with some of my birthday money (thanks, Mom!!).
This lovely piece of fiber-functional woodwork came completely disassembled, and although I found the assembly instructions very clear and easy to follow, it still took a while to figure out what went where and get all the hardware properly situated. When the moment arrived to place the sweater onto the frame, however, I was not even remotely prepared for how easy it would be to stretch it out. My experience with blocking lace — and having to apply torque on edging points with pins & blocking wires — had led me to expect something similar here, especially given the density and tight gauge of the fabric. In fact, the sweater basically stretched itself. I'm not kidding... All I had to do was drape it neatly along the upper crossbar, and gravity took care of the rest, ably assisted by the weight of the water that the wool had soaked up during its washing. Of course much of that liquid ran right to the bottom and started dripping all over the place, so I laid a towel across the base of the frame to catch the run-off. But the fabric required no additional persuasion and instead opened up naturally and effortlessly to its intended measurements. Truly remarkable.
Here are some photos of the sweater during blocking, including a couple of closeups taken after a day or two, as the fabric began to dry and the details of the textured patterning became more visible. As always, click on any of these images to get a closer look.
One effect of using a woolly board is that the ribbing gets stretched out, especially at the cuffs. One can easily re-soak the sweater's "extremities" after removal from the frame and allow them to dry unencumbered so that they will bounce back to their normal elasticity. I had been planning to do just that. But with the cuff extensions it was not necessary. I simply left the new portions unblocked, and when folded over, they hold everything nicely in place from the outside. I also made sure to bind off with a needle one size larger than I had used to knit the ribbing, so that the bottom edge would sit right.
Here are a couple of pictures of the end result, which do a good job of capturing the elusive gray-green too. As it turns out, DH & I both happen to think that the sweater looks better (i.e. more stylish and finished somehow) with folded cuffs than it did with plain ones. As I wrote on my Ravelry project page, mischief managed. :-)