One of my new knitting group* and I have been discussing the delights and joys of blocking. She never has. Blocked, that is. And I always have, although not always with the greatest of success, but I do find on the whole that my knitted garments are only finished to the best of their potential once they have been blocked. So I am a definite blocker!
My usual method has been to pin my knitted pieces out on the ironing board and then to steam them with an iron and damp cloth. For bigger garments, this was never possible, and I used to wet the piece then lay it out on towels laid out on the carpet, which is what I learnt to do when I was living with a family of mad keen knitters in Austria while on Exchange**. Now I lay my sexy printing blanket on the outside table and use that to block my big knitted pieces, which is what I have been doing today.
My latest project, a Line Break shawl designed by Veera Välimäki, needed some more thought in regards to blocking. I don't have any blocking wires - didn't even know what they were until recently - but I used a technique suggested on the Rain Knitware Designs group on ravelry.com, namely to thread a non-stretching nylon through the eyelets on the outside and bottom edges to support the shape of the shawl.
It worked to a degree, but I found that in order to achieve the shape I really desired, I resorted to using pins as well, although I did find that the dental floss thread helped to support the edges so I didn't get too many pointy bits where the pins were inserted.
Blocking has completely changed the size and shape of this shawl for the better as it was a bit on the small size before. I had plenty of the second skein of Madelinetosh Merino Light left - if I were to knit it again in stocking stitch I would do an extra repeat section before the eyelet border. In this case, however, I don't think that a smaller shawl will be an issue - its future recipient is more likely to use it as a scarf!
Back on track!
*Knitting group is awesome! Can't wait to go again!!
**A veeery long time ago!! They were the ones who also taught me to knit in the continental style, holding the yarn in your left hand, much the same as crocheting - or at least, the way I crochet.