A New Appreciation for Blocking

In January I talked about my Queen Silvia lace shawl.  I had to set it aside for a month to work on the baby blanket, but I finally finished it.  I had heard that blocking is essential for knitting lace.  Before I had always blocked rather half-heartedly because it usually didn't seem to do much.  However, after reading some blogs and watching videos on the subject I realized that I was not getting my finished items wet enough.  I also learned that blocking wires make it a lot easier to block lace, so I used my money from the baby blanket sale to buy some blocking wires.

Some friends of ours were going to be taking us out to a nice restaurant, and I wanted to be able to wear my shawl.  I was planning to finish the shawl the night before and get it blocked so it could dry overnight.  However, binding off took longer than I had anticipated, so I had to wait until the next morning to block my shawl.
This is what my shawl looked like before blocking.  My blocking wires are next to it.
The next morning I put my shawl in the bathtub to soak in warm water and wool wash while I got ready for work.  After half an hour I drained the water and refilled the bathtub with just water.  This is a technique I heard about for gently removing the detergent.  After another half an hour I drained the water.  I carefully laid my shawl on a towel, rolled up the towel, and squeezed it gently to get out the excess water.  I then carried the roll to our extra bedroom and laid the shawl out on the bed, on top of two big, dry towels.  The next step was to insert the blocking wires through all the points around the edges.  I then pulled on the wires, stretching out the shawl to the measurements given in the pattern, and used pins to hold the wires in place.

See how different it looks than it did before I blocked it?
I finished just in time to rush to work.  By that evening the shawl had dried because laceweight yarn is so thin.  I removed the wires and pins and wove in the loose ends.  I wore my shawl while we walked the few blocks to the restaurant.  I was so amazed by how beautifully it turned out that I wondered if anyone who had seen me working on it would believe that it was the same shawl.  Lace is magical.