Thursday, 4 June 2015

Poppies Shaping Up



This is what a big bunch of poppies look like!
How many do you think there are?




 This post shows how to get from this:

LEFT: "Hope Bloom" by Jenny King before blocking. The six petals are curled inwards over themselves. RIGHT: "Oriental Poppy" by Lesley Stanfield before blocking. The six petals have curled inwards over themselves, looking like a windmill.
… to this:

LEFT: "Hope Bloom" by Jenny King after blocking. The six overlapping red petals are arranged evenly and are open to reveal the black centre. RIGHT: "Oriental Poppy" by Lesley Stanfield after blocking.  The petals have been opened and the centre has been adjusted to a concave shape. The intentional curl at the outside edges of the petals has been retained.




The secret is blocking.  It's like setting hair with rollers. 
(Wet the hair, pin it in place and then either allow to dry naturally or apply heat.) 

The simplest and safest way to block an item is to dampen the item, pin to shape and let it dry on its own. To dampen, either wash and squeeze out excess moisture or use a trigger spray bottle to apply a fine mist.  

Another way is to use a steam iron to apply heat which is what I am doing today.

A pile of poppys next to an iron on the ironing board.
Poppies on the ironing board.
The type of fibre and project will determine your best method. 

Just like ironing fabric, if you apply too much heat in the wrong way to a yarn fibre, it is going to melt, scorch or burn. Yarn labels indicate the  temperature tolerance for their fibres and dyes. 

Most synthetics will melt under high heat and will be labelled "do not iron". 

Natural fibres like cotton and wool can cope with higher temperatures while blocking. "But wait!" You may protest, "If I put a wool jumper in a hot wash it would shrink!" 

Well, yes, but that is exactly how blocking works. The fibres themselves twist and tighten–sometimes you can see the individual fibres moving before your very eyes– thus setting their final positions. The items you have made won't shrink if they are securely pinned to hold their shape. 

These poppies are made of 100% wool and easy to fit under the iron so I am going to use steam to set the stitches.

"Hope Bloom" poppy on ironing board. Red petals are curled inwards, covering some of the black centre.
BEFORE BLOCKING
"Hope Bloom" poppy resting on the ironing board.

Flowers are not always perfectly symmetrical in nature therefore I am not too worried about precision as I pin the petals of this "Hope Bloom" into shape. By using only my eyes for judgment, if it isn't absolutely perfect, it might simulate the randomness that occurs naturally in real flowers.


"Hope Bloom" poppy on ironing board. The red petals are pinned open revealing the black centre.
PIN TO SHAPE
The petals have been opened and secured to the ironing board
with glass-headed, rust-proof pins in the following order:
1. Green pins open the outer petals and define the perimeter shape.
2. Yellow pins open the inner petals and close gaps between petal sections.
3. White pins uncurl the inside edges of the petals.

For a balanced shape, I find it helpful to pin the petals in  opposite pairs at a time; e.g. if the first petal to be pinned is on the top right, the next to pin will be the petal directly opposite on the bottom left, and so on.

Remember to use pins that are heat-proof and rust-proof. Watch out for those plastic-headed 'berry pins' and 'pearl' coloured pins. Keep them well away from your blocking pins unless you want melted plastic on your creations or on your iron. 


Fortunately, I haven't had to learn that lesson the hard way but I nearly got caught one day when I needed extra pins and reached for my sewing pincushion–
I forgot that half of them were plastic-headed pins until I found one in my hand as I was pinning it. I came to my senses just in time–the difference
in size and colour alerted me and I realised that it was also plastic!  Phew! That was a close call! From now on, my sewing pins are kept well away from my crochet pins.


I use glass-headed stainless steel pins because I like the different colours to mark out sections but there are also T-shaped rust-proof pins that can be used for blocking. I imagine they would be perfect for blocking because their T-shaped heads would prevent them from getting hidden in the fabric. I have never used the T-pins before because they have never been available in my neighbourhood.  I would love to get your opinion of them if you have used them.

In the case of this "Hope Bloom" poppy, I have not pulled the petals tightly or pinned them flat because I want to retain the three dimensional curves of the flower and keep some body in the yarn.  The pins uncurl the petals just enough to reveal the centre of the flower and the petals' shapes.



Side view of the poppy pinned to the ironing board with the iron face down above it applying steam.
STEAM BLOCKING
Hold the iron as close as possible to the item without actually touching it. 
Use the "continuous steam" function if the iron has one,
otherwise repeated "shots of steam" will also work.



"Hope Bloom" poppy after steam blocking. The pins have been removed and the red petals are now open and the black centre is visible.
AFTER BLOCKING
Allow to cool.
Wait until the item has completely cooled before removing pins.


For the Oriental Poppy, I positioned the six separate petals very precisely using a blocking board.  This poppy has two layers of petals - three in front and three in the back. They are offset from each other so I want to make sure that the back petals are evenly spaced between the front ones.


"Oriental Poppy" by Lesley Stanfield before blocking. The six petals have curled inwards over themselves, looking like a windmill.
BEFORE BLOCKING
"Oriental Poppy"
The petals have curled inwards onto themselves.


My blocking board is a very cheap solution - a cardboard pattern cutting board which cost me about $14 ten years ago. $1.40 per year is good value to my mind!  The other benefit of the cardboard is that I can draw my own templates and guidelines on it using waterproof pens to suit my kinds of projects.

The board already had a circle divided into quarters marked on it.  My pen lines now use one colour to divide that circle further into 8ths and another colour to divide the circle into 6ths and 12ths.  I used my compass to draw concentric circles at regular spacings and now I have a very useful blocking board for anything worked in the round like doilies and granny squares.

Red oriental poppy pinned to cardboard blocking board. The board is white and marked with a lined grid of squares in green ink. Two diagonal lines cross the grid at 45 degree angles. Where they intersect marks the centre of the circle. Concentric circles in dark ink radiate outwards at 1 inch spacing. These circles are broken up into cross-sections by dark lines to divide the circle into 12 sections.
"Oriental Poppy" pinned to the blocking board.
Marked guidelines aid precision.
1. Blue pin to secure and press centre into concave shape.
2. Green pins for first three petals.
3. Yellow pins for last three petals.

I still used the steam iron to block this poppy, taking care to protect the underlying surface from the heat.  This poppy's petals also have a natural curl so I did not pin it too flat or steam it for too long – too much and it will become limp and lifeless.

Sometimes the flowers need re-adjustment during the blocking process. Do it while the flower is still warm and steamy but be careful when handling to avoid getting burnt!

"Oriental Poppy" by Lesley Stanfield after blocking.  The petals have been opened and the centre has been adjusted to a concave shape. The intentional curl at the outside edges of the petals has been retained.
AFTER BLOCKING
"Oriental Poppy"
Again, allow to cool completely before removing pins.



Voila!

This beautiful bunch of 45 blooms are all ready to go to a special project which will be revealed later in the year.


These particular poppies are a selection of four different patterns:

Crocheted Oriental Poppy: black centre, six red petals, the centre of each petal has a black spot created using an intarsia method.

Oriental Poppy 
by Lesley Stanfield


Crocheted poppy. Black centre has 5 blunt points around which are rounded red petals which overlap each other and curl upwards. 


Poppy Choker 
by Anne Rousseau




Remembrance Poppy 
by Teena Sutton Murphy



"Hope Bloom" by Jenny King after blocking. The six overlapping red petals are arranged evenly and are open to reveal the black centre. 

Hope Blooms 
by Jenny King






More pattern ideas are in the Lupey Loops list of Poppy Patterns, published on 20 April 2015. Check the comments there too for extra links.


Pattern Details


Hope Blooms Poppy by Jenny King, Interweave Crochet magazine, Volume viii, No. 2, Summer 2014, Interweave Press LLC, <www.interweave.com>, 201 E. 4th St, Loveland, CO 80537, USA, 2011, digital edition:
http://www.interweavestore.com/interweave-crochet-summer-2014-grouped?_iwcspid=149891
Hope Blooms online pattern information, Crochet Me  web site:
http://www.crochetme.com/media/p/149891.aspx
Hope Blooms Tutorial by Lindsay Jarvis, Crochet Me, blog entry, 6 June 2014:  http://www.crochetme.com/blogs/inside_interweave_crochet/archive/2014/06/05/hope-blooms-tutorial.aspx

Oriental Poppy by Lesley Stanfield, 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet: A collection of beautiful blooms for embellishing clothes, accessories, cushions and throws, second reprint, ISBN 978-1-84448-403-4, Search Press, Quarto Publishing, The Old Brewery, 6 Blundell Street, London N7 9BH, UK 2012.

Poppy Choker (free) by Anne Rousseau, Kiwi Little Things, blog, 2012:
http://www.kiwi-little-things.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Kiwi-Little-Things-UK-Poppy-chocker.pdf

Remembrance Poppy (free) by Teena Sutton Murphy, Flushed with Rosy Colour, 2015:
http://www.flushedwithrosycolour.com/2015/01/rememberance-poppy-free-pattern.html

"Hope Bloom" by Jenny King after blocking. The six overlapping red petals are arranged evenly and are open to reveal the black centre."Hope Bloom" by Jenny King before blocking. The six petals are curled inwards over themselves.

"Oriental Poppy" by Lesley Stanfield after blocking.  The petals have been opened and the centre has been adjusted to a concave shape. The intentional curl at the outside edges of the petals has been retained."Oriental Poppy" by Lesley Stanfield before blocking. The six petals have curled inwards over themselves, looking like a windmill.

16 comments:

  1. I had quite a giggle at this, due to my reticence to block. I probably would have shaken my head in despondency and discarded the oriental poppy before my blocking debutante! I love our differences in crafting, your precise measuring against my 'devil may care' eyeballing approach! I can't wait to craft with you again, special friend.

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    Replies
    1. I can see you doing that too! hehehehe
      That's partly why I wrote this post because what a shame it would be to feel discouraged at the crochet when all it needs is some finishing off.
      Yes, I am missing our joint crafting time too and so pleased that you left a comment here! What's on your needles at the moment? I am using your beautiful cable blanket every day and think of you always. xxx

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  2. Oh how gorgeous!!
    What do you pan to do with them all?
    I just blocked my finished Amanda cardigan.
    I was so tempted to just wear it and hope for the best but I keep reading about the wonders of blocking so I did it. Fingers crossed.Have a great weekend. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kate! Lovely that you had time to have a look here. :-)
      I am afraid I cannot tell you what the poppies are for just yet but they are destined for a very special creative project which will be revealed later in the year. (Watch this space!)
      I love the texture of your Amanda cardigan which shows up so beautifully with the natural colour. That cardi looks so scrumptious and warm, I just want to reach out and squeeze it and wrap it around me! Perfect for 'the coldest place on earth' ;-)
      Well done for taking time to block your work! Are you happy with the results? Did you notice any difference to the cardigans that didn't get blocked?
      Blocking is a great way to make sure the garment pieces are precisely measured to the pattern specifications - it helps to set any little adjustments -a little stretch here and a little tuck there - while evening out the stitches. The end result is much easier joining and sewing. Think of the blocking process as an investment in time at the knit/crochet stage to save time at the construction/seaming stage. "Onya" for giving it a go. :-)
      Warm wishes for a cold winter. xx

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  3. Fantastic. I think I need to invest in some sort of blocking board at the moment it is the carpet, but wow, what a difference the blocking makes. x

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    Replies
    1. I love my cardboard blocking board for its grids but many people, especially those challenged for storage space, use the foam playmats that interlock so you can make a board any shape you like according to the size of your project.

      Alice from Futuregirl blog uses these and has a great photo here: http://www.futuregirl.com/craft_blog/2011/8/blocking-the-peacock-sweater.aspx
      This photo has also done the rounds of Pinterest, so I have added it to my Pinterest board "Craft Accessories and Storage Ideas": https://www.pinterest.com/pin/27303141468141373/

      Doris Chan also wrote a useful article "Blocking is Your Friend" here: http://dorischancrochet.com/blocking-is-your-friend/
      Even if you already block your work, Doris makes a good point about the shortcomings of steam blocking compared with wet/damp blocking for larger projects.

      I hope these links are helpful. :-)

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  4. Oh fantastic work !!!! and thanks a lot for the tuto and blocking. I use to block all of my knitting garment. Thanks also for your comment on my blog about poppies and of course you can use them as inspiration. Have a creative week !

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    1. Thanks so much, Géraldine. You are a sweetheart! :-)
      I look forward to more beautiful photos and clever projects from you.

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  5. Your poppies are really beautiful. I'm glad to say I've been conveted to the wonders of blocking.

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    1. Thank you, Gillian. There was something so satisfying about each flower every time I finished one. I was worried that I would become over-familiar and bored with them after making so many at once. I was pleasantly surprised at how much joy each bloom gave me. After blocking, it was similar to the wonderment of seeing a bud open into a flower.
      Did you block the white flower motifs in your pink hexagon blanket? (In this post of yours: http://hookinayarn.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/crocheted-bag-commission.html)
      I have also heard it said that "blocking can hide a multitude of sins!" :-)
      Happy hooking!

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  6. Poppies are my favourite flower, so I am loving these. I am going to say 50? Thanks for popping by and commenting on my yarn barf!! I have only been knitting for less than 3 months, so still a newbie!!

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    1. You are close, Gill! You will find the answer within the post. Why are poppies your favourites? Thank you for 'popping' by! :-)

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  7. Wonderfull crochet poppies, in different style oriental

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    1. I hope you have fun with these poppy patterns. The oriental poppy takes the longest to make out of these four patterns but is the most spectacular.

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  8. Lovely post for Remembrance Armistice Day from Belgium.

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    1. It is heartening to know that so many countries remember at the same time in November and with the wearing of poppies. Australia also commemorates its servicemen and women from World War I on Anzac day 25 April. It is customary to wear a sprig of rosemary on Anzac Day but poppies are becoming a common symbol in April too. I think people are confusing their commemorations. This year has been an unusual year because it is the 100th anniversary.
      Did you find the links on the previous post in April "Poppy Patterns"?
      http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/poppy-patterns.html

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