First of all, Happy Holidays! I hope you are all enjoying the cheer of the season and some extra time with those dearest to you. ♥
I've briefly talked before about the importance of blocking and the benefits it offers for lace work, but I was recently asked to go into more detail on how it's done, so here goes.
Blocking is the process of shaping your finished garment and letting all of your stitches reach their fullest potential. This is especially important in lace because if your stitches are too close together, you can't see all of the detail you've worked to create. The fibers I work with all take well to a cold water soak with a bit of rinse-less detergent. There are, however, alternatives including steaming and spritzing, so always check your yarn label for suggested care.
[Pre-soak: stitches are not open and swatch does not lay flat]
When it comes time to shape finished garments, you can use combs, frames, or wires, but I generally use t-pins. I start along the central line and work out [in this case my swatch is similar to a mini shawl, but I would follow the same process for any other garment.] So, imagining this swatch is a shwal, I pin the central tab where I cast on, then the central tip on the bind odd edge.
Next, I pin the farthest wing point and begin pinning the bindoff edge symmetrically [either middle-out or out-middle]. Once the bindoff edge is shaped, I work the remaining edges symmetrically. Once all pins are placed you can go back and make any adjustments needed to even out your garment.
The shape of your garment may suggest pinning the edges in another order. Do it. The order is not important, it is just important to work symmetrically. This will make the entire process, as well as any adjustments, easier.
Please let me know if you have any questions or post suggestions. I would love to incorporate more reader questions into my 2017 posts!
[This lace swatch was pulled from a portion the Haruni border chart]