Dorothy might be a bit of a problem when it comes to blocking, so I decided to write a tutorial showing the most important steps. This is a very image heavy post, so I decided to go with smaller pics here. The photos are all linked to my Flickr, so if you need to see more details, just click on them.
First of all, we need a flat, "pin-able" surface, a bunch of pins and a spray bottle. Since I knit from a cone, I soaked the shawl in very hot water with some shampoo in it (to take the sizing off the yarn) over night. I then put Dorothy through the spin cycle of my washer to take the excess water out and placed it over my surface in the approximate shape it would have after blocked:
I then pinned down the lower tip and the center back of the neck. Be prepared to move pins around.
Next, I started pinning the various tips, alternating left and right side ones so the shawl would have similar measurements on either side. Pay attention to the spine line and try to keep it straight.
I pinned down all the scallops, starting at the top of each "mountain" and then going back and pinning the "valley" between each scallop.
To get the edging to behave properly, I spread them out with my hands as I went. This way I didn't end up with scallops overlapping each other.
What do you do when you run out of space on your pinning surface? Why, you turn the fabric around and pin it to the back side ;) On this next photo you can see that I've already pinned one of the "valley" too.
Here is the shawl with all the scallop "mountains" pinned down. Keep alternating between left and right side, trying to keep the spine as straight as possible.
Due to the shape of this shawl, you'll need to pin two loops together at some points. This last picture shows the shawl with all pins in place. I decided to shape the neck line in such a way that I'd have waves after the shawl was blocked. You can keep it as a straight line if you wish.
Blocking is a time consuming activity, but it's worth every second of the work put into it. Don't be afraid of blocking, if you don't like the end result, you can always soak your item again and re-shape it to your taste.
A few last tips.
- Keep the spray bottle near and don't be afraid to use it often.
- I usually let my lace remain pinned for at least 12 hours.
- Different fibers will react differently to blocking, with some yarns you'll get a little shrinkage after you take the pins down, others (like cotton) will stay the same size.
- I block harshly as I can and usually, when I'm almost done, find out that I can pull the fabric a bit tighter.
- If you're using cardboard or Styrofoam as your surface, you can use push pins. Blocking mats, mattresses and carpet require longer pins.