When you finish a project, particularly any kind of lacework, it can look scrunched and distorted. You really want to make your project open up so it can be seen in its best light. Blocking should be as essential a part of knitting as casting on. Take the time to do it, and do it well, you will be very glad that you did. It makes a project the appropriate size, displays colors and lacework to its best advantage and even makes your project softer. A basic blocking can be achieved following a few key steps.
1. Make sure to weave in all of your ends, but do not cut them until you have completed the blocking. There is a good amount of stretching that occurs, and you want to make sure your woven ends have a little room so they do not come loose. It also helps to secure the fibers.
2. Soak your garment for about half an hour. Use a mild, hand-washing detergent. This is a good time to gather the rest of your supplies. Useful gear includes blocking mats, t-pins, lace wires, and a ruler or yard stick. Space is also nice if you have it. When you are done with the soak, you will want to get as much water out of your project without twisting or wringing it out. Think squish not twist. Twisting can break and stretch fibers in directions you do not want, causing unsightly distortions in your project. After squishing as much water as you can, you can grab a towel and roll your knitted item in the towel to get some of that excess drip out.
3. Lay your project out on your mat. If you are blocking lace, run lace wire through the top of the project. Using your pins, pin the inside edge of the wire. You will want to pin every 1-2 inches. If you do not have lace wires, you can run some scrap yarn (cotton blends work well) through the top of your project and use it in the same capacity as the wire. Then you will want to stretch your project evenly out from the wire. This is where the ruler can be handy to see if you are pulling evenly on all sides and also to check the dimensions of your project. As you stretch make sure you pin. When you pin on the left side, go ahead and pin the same place on the right side. This back and forth, even pinning will help you keep your project shapely. Don't be shy with pins, either. You want to pin frequently.
4. Once your project is completely pinned, do a final check. Are your sides even? Is the center of your project actually in the middle? Are the motifs in your pattern even and pointing in the right direction? These things matter. Fix it if its wrong, you will have a very sad face if you do not.
5. Allow the project to dry completely. Once the knitted item is dry, remove the pins and enjoy!