Blocking a Shawl and Unblocking Health Care

I start every day with breakfast and pills.  While I am waiting for the pills to do their thing, I get my first look at morning email.   My method of attack is to first scan the whole list and wipe out the junk – solicitations, sale notices, friending notes from Facebook, spam that the filter missed, and group conversation comments that I don’t want to read.  Next I attack the urgent mail – Etsy orders (woefully infrequent), real messages from family and friends (as opposed to the ever-present and quickly deleted forwards), and notifications from companies I pay on line.  Finally, I open the mail that takes a bit longer and requires more focus – Alternet mail with timely and informative articles on political and social matters, the New York Times headlines, new information on craft shows and markets, and comments on threads in my groups that I’d like to follow and perhaps contribute to. 

This morning, an interesting notice caught my attention.  It was a request to join hundreds of thousands of Americans in a petition from the Stand with Dr. Dean organization.  It has a very common sense argument for a public health plan.  If you’ve been following the issue, you know that huge numbers of our population (43 to 47 million Americans) have no health insurance, and thus miss out on most of the nonemergency health care that they should be getting.  There’s a lot of hoopla in Congress over whether we can afford to have a public insurance program, paid for by the government, to cover all of those people and perhaps any others who want to ditch their employer-sponsored plan.  The Dean organization points out that this is the only route for true health care reform, that any other option (involving just private insurers) is only insurance reform, and doesn’t address the real need for improved health care in this country.  They have a concise overview of the situation, comparing our vital health care statistics (life expectancy, survival of acute illnesses, etc.) with those of other developed nations.  The site includes a petition that you can fill out in one minute to join other public health option supporters.  Check it out: .

This week I’ve found time to admire someone else’s handknitting.  A friend brought me a gorgeous shawl to block, and I had a wonderful time working on it.  Knitted lace doesn’t look very special when you’re working on it.  It is the subsequent stretching that reveals the beautiful patterns and makes it hang with appropriate drape.  That is achieved by using wires and pins strategically placed to pull out the piece to its limits and accent the proper areas of the design.   I don’t think she will mind me showing you:  DSC04084 As you can see, I have pinned out the shawl on a queen-size bed (thanks, Dayna).  The pins go through the comforter and into the mattress, as they have to be securely anchored.  I prefer to pin it dry, then spray it with water using a perfume atomizer.  You can buy atomizers for a few bucks.  Never spray with a bottle that has held perfume, as it may discolor your piece.  I spray until the entire piece is damp, smoothing over the whole shawl with my hand to make sure I haven’t missed a corner. 

DSC04083  The shawl instructions gave only one dimension – about 68 inches from side to side.  You can see that it takes most of the bed length.  I put in the blocking wires at the top straight edges, and adjusted the fabric to achieve the proper width.  Then, working first the bottom corners, then bottom center, then filling in the sides and bottom spikes, I stretched until the pattern was clear and pulled to symmetrical dimensions.  The pins are placed at the very tip of the scalloped edge, emphasizing the diamond row above it.  DSC04088 Just another view of pretty!  This shawl takes my breath away.  Mary Z did a fantastic job! 

I gave it another spraying down with water today, because I removed a pin and found that it wasn’t holding its shape as well as I wanted.  I will give it another 48 hours of drying time, then remove all the pins and present it to its rightful owner (sigh). 

I have to apologize for the previous post, Rockstar.  I wrote it two nights ago and forgot to push the publish button.  Don’t neglect it, there’s some fun involved.