Introduction: Blocking Lace
This is the method I use to block my lace projects using welding rods instead of pins!
Step 1: Getting Your Lace Ready to Block
Some people call it "blocking", others call it "dressing" or "finishing". Whatever you choose to call it, it will make a world of difference in the way your finished product looks.
Most people consider blocking a chore. I have learned a few things that make it a pleasure to tackle blocking.
I like to "wet block" my lace items. This not only cleans your lovely lace, but it prepares it for a good stretch!
I fill a clean container with lukewarm water and add a small of amount of any mild detergent and mix it up thoroughly. What kind of detergent? Whatever you prefer! I personally prefer Oxi-Clean, others use Palmolive or Dawn -- your choice.
I then completely, and gently, submerge the knitted lace into the water and let it soak for at least 30 minutes. Some fibers take longer than this to get thoroughly wet, but you'll have to experiment with what you're using. One important issue here, if you are using any type of a wool product, DO NOT agitate! This will have a felting affect.
After the item is thoroughly wetted, I drain out the water and gently press out the majority of the water. NEVER wring your lace!
Rinse and refill the container with water at the same temperature and rinse gently -- remember, avoid agitation! Again, drain and remove most of the water. I usually rinse my items two or three times just to make sure that I get the soap completely out.
Press the item between two bath towels. I usually roll mine up & let them set for a while to soak up most of the water.
Now it's time to start "pinning". First, remember to use rustproof pins!
As you block you can decide how much you want to "open" your lace. Do you want it to open a little or do you want to "go all the way" with it and open the lace pattern wide? The degree you choose will not matter -- you may feel like you're going to tear the piece apart when you start stretching it to its limits, but you will be surprised how much give there is in the fibers. One thing to remember is to stretch your piece in a uniform matter, not just one area at a time.
Step 2: Pins Versus Welding Rods & Puzzle Pieces?
In the past I have actually knelt on the floor and used hundreds of T-pins to block a shawl or doily -- not much fun and it's hard on the knees! Now I prefer to use stainless steel welding rods. I purchased mine at a welding store. They were very in-expensive and come in various sizes. You are actually looking for 3-foot stainless steel welding rods used for tig welding. DO NOT get the shorter ones coated with a flux. The flux will leave a deposit on your beautiful work. These rods are flexible enough to handle gently curved pieces, as well as straight.
I know there are "specialized" blocking wires out there, but welding rods are much cheaper. I think a paid about $3.00 for a couple of dozen rods. I keep them in a PVC pipe with end caps on it, another few dollars and safe from children, animals & husbands!
As you can see in this photo, I also use children's play "puzzle" pieces to pin my items too -- another in-expensive item.
Step 3: The Blocking Process
I just run the rods through the outer edging of my work and occasionally use a pin to hold the wires taut and straight or to curve the wires. My pins rarely ever actually touch my knitting anymore!
It is very important to let the lace dry thoroughly in place before removing blocking wires and pins. You may touch the knitting and think it is dry, but be patient, even though the outside is dry, the interior still holds moisture. I usually leave mine for a minimum of 24 hours, sometimes longer if it's a large piece.
Step 4: The Finished Project
After it is dry, pull out the wires and remove the pins. Now, gasp at the beauty of your accomplishment! Wrap your shawl around you! Parade it in front of your husband and friends! If it's a doily, put it where everyone can see it! Oh, don't forget to take pictures for your project book!