I was blocked when I started writing this. No clue where to go with it. It probably shows. 🙂
Although blocking is an important part of all needlework, it’s rarely talked about. Every lace knitter knows the magic that happens when you take a mess of a knit wool shawl, wet it and pin it out to dry, stretching tightly. You go from something that looks like a tangled mass of string to an amazing piece of art!
Embroidery gains from washing and blocking, too. When you’re stitching, fabric can get wrinkled and maybe a little grimy, even if you do work with clean hands (eating chocolate while stitching is a bad habit. This is not to say I don’t do it, but chocolate isn’t the easiest thing to get out of linen, especially if you’re stitching with thread that will bleed if washed.)
Anyway. Gently washing your embroidery, gently squeezing the extra water out between two towels (PLEASE don’t wring) and then pinning it out to dry, stretching it on a board to the correct size and shape, does wonders for the crispness of the final product, especially if you’ve been stitching with silk thread.
I’ve also been known to iron my work dry from the back, stretching it into shape as I go, but only if it’s cotton or linen on cotton or linen (or maybe a blend with some polyester or rayon in it).
Of course, on that last point, I also use my hand-embroidered tea towels and flour sack towels as dishtowels, and just toss them into the washer and dryer when they get dirty. If this use was good enough for my grandmother (and it was), it’s good enough for me…
and I don’t have enough people in my life who both appreciate my handwork and are willing to use/wear it. If I want to keep stitching, I need to use what I stitch and knit so it wears out and I need more! 🙂
Point? Did I have a point today? Oh. Learn to block your work. Know your materials, and don’t be afraid to put your work (using washable threads and fabric!) on things to use and then use them. You DO like stitching more stuff, don’t you?