There've been some good questions and comments the last couple days that deserve some followup.
One was a question on blocking socks and ribbing and other really stretchy things, and was there any point in it? My first thought is, I wish people would quit using the term 'block' when what they're really doing is 'wash some knitwear and lay it flat to dry'. It's not YOUR fault, it's the fault of all these books and designers. They're always going on about blocking your knitting, and really, unless you're doing lace or something else specialized, it's really an uncomplicated wash. So in other words, there's no point in blocking most things and I don't bother. Just wash and lay flat. (Remember, washing wool is like setting your hair. Not laying it out when you dry it is a lot like going to bed with your hair wet. Not. Pretty.) I'm not wild about sock blockers - those two dimensional foot-forms that people put washed socks on to dry - mostly because they put ridges in the top and bottom of the sock, and stress the fibers along thosse ridges. But to each their own. You like sock blockers, use sock blockers.
As for superwash wool and how it gets that way, well, it's usually considered 'proprietary information', meaning industrial secrets. Each wool mill has their own methods, I suspect, but they're all variations on the glue or burn. Both processes are PROBABLY done in the form of some kind of chemical bath that's part of the dye process. I'm guessing, but it's the only way I can come up with that's cost effective. Incidentally, if your superwash feels sorta stiff or crunchy, it was probably glued; if it's loose and slippery, it was probably burned. But as always there are variations on that.
Thank you all for your concern over my blood pressure; I'm back on my medication, having confirmed that a weird problem I was having IS caused by the medication. Namely, the BP meds make my asthma worse. Very freaky (though most BP medications mess with vascular tissue, and your lungs ARE vascular tissue, so now that I think about it, it's not THAT weird), but definitely confirmed. My asthma was better, and within four days of re-starting the medication, I'm up all night coughing up a lung. So I get to ask the doc for something different. Whee.
I hadn't realized that charts created such strong feelings, but I shouldn't be surprised. I think the prefrence between written out directions and charts hinges on that old right brain/left brain deal. I see it manifested in all kinds of other directional-type things - written directions vs. schematics or maps - so it stands to reason people would have the same prefrences in knitting. (In fact, once I hit on that idea, I realized that I prefer pictures/maps/schematics for EVERYTHING, not just my knitting.) I'm trying to think of a way to do a chart tutorial for left-brain people, but I'm not making much headway. (Headway. Get it? I Crack myself up.) I'll do something about reading charts soon, though.
If anyone wants to think about it and then drop me a line, let me know if you see a sort of general theme to your own directions prefrences -- do you prefer all charts (not just knitting) or all words? Anyone? I'm particularly interested in those who prefer written-out knitting directions and how they prefer other kinds of directions like how to get somewhere or how to put together something. I appreciate any and all input on this one.
I appreciate the suggestions for Knitty articles, ALWAYS, but unfortunately Knitty articles already exist on chart reading and blocking and yarn substitution. Theresa, of Techniques by Theresa, has covered them. (In fact, her tech articles are the reason I don't usually submit truly tech articles to Knitty -- no need to re-invent the wheel or step on toes.) However, I AM considering a 'charts for left-brain people' article, if I can come up with something truly helpful. Guess who gets to be my test audience?? (And just for the record, I like left-brain people. They keep the right-brain folks like me from starving while we think Great Thoughts.)
What am I reading?? THIS:
It starts in prehistory and ends at the Tang Dynasty, an era of history I'm sad to say I know very little about. (Damn Ohio public schools and their bias about western civilization.) I'm enjoying it immensely and am staggered to find amazing art from very early periods that looks NOTHING like what I think of when someone says "Chinese Art." Anyway, I want to knit ten million sweaters, kimono, and jackets based on what I'm finding in this book. It's a Barnes and Noble publication, so you can only find it at their book stores, or here.
The end is in sight for the Steeked Jacket. (Fear not, I am taking photos.) The closer I get to the end of anything, the faster I knit and the more enthusiastic I get about the project. So I may actually manage an FO for April. No swooning.
Now if you'll excuse me, my child seems to be stuck in a box. Hahaha.