LONG story SHORT (Adventures in Superwash Blocking)
What is your worst knitting nightmare?
Obviously there are many, but one of mine is hand knits in the dryer. I've seen gifted knitacular pieces of mine end up in the dryer and come back hard little toys (only seen this with hats, so not too many tears).
I recently had to face my fears due to misadventures in blocking my Carbeth sweater by Kate Davies. Fantastic, quick sweater to #bangoutasweater in February. I did it along with the #BANGOUTACARBETH knitalong.
It was a rollercoaster of emotions:
Step 1--Excitement: yarn purchases, daydreaming of a super-fabulous sweater to be the envy of all knitters everywhere.
Gauge Swatch. I am a patient hero.
Step 2--Test of patience: gauge swatch. I feel like a real grown-up knitter by gauge swatching IN THE ROUND. Like a lot of stitches on the needles, like this swatch could have almost been a hat (for a child). After waiting and waiting and waiting, I get gauge!!! I am a superhero. (Fingers crossed I'm not a wishful gauge-reader.)
Step 3--Sweet spot: knit a whole sleeve in 2 days. Feeling great. Knit up another sleeve.
Step 4--Reality check: try sleeves on. Womp womp. Sleeves made for someone much larger than me. Get frustrated and just put to the side. Problem for another day. I am no longer a superhero, and images of a sweater only fit to wear inside my own home fill my head.
Sweater coming together. I am queen of the universe.
Step 5--Restored confidence: Start on the body, feeling good again! Body turned out pretty well in terms of sizing on second size, so I guess the pattern is just made to have bigger arms? Not my thing, so I redo the sleeves a bit smaller than the smallest size.
Step 6--End in sight: yoke decreases are fun and satisfying. I finish the sweater! I try it on. Feeling good! Sweater is cute and warm. My dreams of being the envy of knitters everywhere have disappeared, but I will at least have a sweater I can wear out of the house.
Ridiculous floppy sweater. I am a failure at life.
Step 7--Magical thinking: blocking is a drag but necessary. I put the sweater in its bucket for a bath, and imagine wearing this beaut to work in a couple of days. I then pull sweater out of bath. My beloved sweater is now HUGE!! I decide once it starts to dry it will shrink back down a bit.
Step 8--End of the world: 24 hours have passed, and the sweater has not shrunk. A seasoned knitter visits, takes a look and consoles me about having to entirely frog and re-knit this sucker. The dimensions are ridiculous, and it would not even fit someone bigger than me right if I just wanted to gift it.
Step 9--Light at the end of the tunnel: even though this was a super-quick knit in terms of a sweater, I really do not want to knit this thing again. So, I turn to the internet, and my beloved Ravelry: in the comments about the Hikoo Sueño, someone says that it has a tendency to grow and you can throw it in the dryer to shrink it back down. I find other resources online that say that superwash has this tendency to grow A LOT in blocking, and that it is okay to put in the dryer to remedy. I always thought that it was fine to throw superwash in the washer (hence the name superwash, but I still never did even that...but the dryer?! You must be out of your damned mind). But I read enough people saying that this will work, that I decide to go for it.
A hero once more.
Step 10--Leap of faith: hand knit sweater in the dryer. After another 24 hours, the sweater is basically dry, and still has not magically shrunk. It's time for the dryer. I spray it so that it's damp enough to have some flexibility to shrink. I stick it in for a few minutes at a time up to about 10 minutes, and low and behold--the sweater has come back to me. It fits!!!! It did get just a wee bit fuzzy, but it freakin' fits!!!
Even my cat thinks I'm cool now.
LONG story SHORT--the dryer is not as evil as I thought. If your superwash yarn can take it, it can be a lifesaver. My long-ass sweater got short enough to wear!