An essential part of lace knitting is blocking, that is, using water to relax the fibers and then stretching the piece and holding it in place with pins while it dries.
Blocking helps a lot of knitting projects look better, but it's essential for lace knitting to open up the yarn overs and make the pattern emerge.
Pinning down a lace knitting project is pretty tedious, but there is a tool that can make it a little easier: blocking wires.
What are Blocking Wires?
Blocking wires are typically made of metal and can be flexible for blocking curves or more rigid for straight pieces. My set came from Knit Picks, but there are others available if you do a search on the Internet or ask at your local yarn shop.
How to Use Blocking Wires
Blocking wires are actually really easy to use to block lace knitting and other projects. Simply weave the wire in and out of the edge on one side of your knitting, using more than one wire if necessary to cover the whole length (as may be necessary if you're blocking a scarf or large shawl).
Repeat on the other side or sides. Stretch the project as needed to open up the lace, then use straight pins in a few strategic locations to hold the stretch while the project dries. You can either get the piece wet before you install the blocking wires or stretch the item and then spray it with water and allow to dry to set the lace.
Benefits of Using Blocking Wires
Blocking wires make it a lot easier to make the edges of your knitting project straight. If your lace has points or scallops you can catch each one to ensure that they're all emphasized the way they should be.
Weaving the wires in and out of your project is a little less tedious than pinning every little point or trying to stretch a big piece of lace evenly all around. It still takes time and you need to make sure your project is ending up the same width throughout, but it is faster and more accurate than pinning.
I used my blocking wires on the Zig Zag Lace Scarf and found that a much easier way to block a large piece of knitting than using a million pins would have been.