What comes after the bind off?
Some patterns you can slip the project right on and go. Heaven knows I’ve done my share of finishing a piece hours (okay, sometimes even minutes) before I planned to wear it. Not so with lacework. It’s okay when it’s done, but it’s never really a work of art until you’ve blocked it.
Can’t you just press it with an iron?
Almost never. Blocking requires soaking–or as the famous opinionated knitter Elizabeth Zimmermann calls it “giving it a bath.” I love the tender touch that term implies. And it’s the perfect visual for the task. I let my babies soak for about ten minutes (as long as it takes me to set up the blocking board I use on my dining room table) in Dawn Blue dishwashing liquid and tepid water. After a careful rinse in similar temperature water, I pin them to the board. A striped beach towel is especially useful for pieces involving straight lines like this scarf, because you’ve got your guidelines ready to go.
What does blocking accomplish?
In even simple lacework like this scarf, blocking opens up the stitches, helps things lay flat, and gives the work an even feel. I think blocking makes any knitted piece feel “airier,” if I can manufacture a word. Scientifically, it allows the fibers to relax and line up nicely next to each other. After all, everyone–from small children to dogs to romance author knitters–behaves more nicely after a bath.
Give it a day or so to dry, and I’ll come back to show you the final product.