Often a question knitters ask! The finishing of a project – putting parts together, weaving in ends, and blocking the item into shape is something that many, though not all, people see as a chore.
What is blocking? Basically it’s taking your item and wetting or merely dampening it, then placing it in shape to dry. Washing your item after you get all the ends worked in and such is a good idea anyway, it’s probably not as clean as you might think, and doing the washing and shaping will make the item look nicer much of the time. For sweaters (which I have yet to knit) with parts, blocking the parts before putting it together can help with that step, with everything in the shape and size it should be. But what most people envision as “blocking” is taking an item and stretching it out and pinning it. With lace… this is necessary to have a nice looking final product.
Lace is in many ways magical. It does strange things while you’re knitting it, and most of the time it simply looks like a mess, or at the very least, unimpressive. This is a small shawl I knit recently:
Okay, not the best picture but you can clearly see how the edges are curled up, and it doesn’t really look like much.
So I blocked it. I had forgotten how much I really dislike blocking lace. I don’t have a great place to do it, and it hurts my back (again probably because I don’t have a great place to do the deed), which is a fair part of the dislike. I’m pondering changes so it’s not such problem for me. Anyway, I pinned it outstretched, then dampened it and let it dry. The result:
I was neglectful in that second one and some of the tips are folded under, but you can better see the lace definition. These are actually fairly poor pictures of this pattern, which is Quilla by Susanna IC, available at Windy Valley Muskox. There are much better pictures of the pattern there, I used a lighter yarn, and did not do the beading. It’s a fun and easy little shawl to do!
So… to block or not block? Most items (other than dishrags and such)? Block. Non-lace items can merely be put into shape without pinning probably. Lace of course needs the blocking to really show itself. My biggest suggestion? If you yourself don’t like blocking, ask at your local yarn shop (should you have one or more of those) if they offer that service. Some do offer finishing services for a fee. Or involve friends in your fibery endeavors and see if there’s someone who enjoys the process!