I'm going to show you how I blocked my lacy crochet skirt without a blocking board and why you may want to block your projects, too. Blocking is a way of finishing your project, by introducing moisture and then shaping it. In fact, if you've ever washed something and then laid it flat to let it air dry, then you've already blocked!
I personally don't think it's always necessary to block, depending on the project and the yarn. Some people may disagree with me and recommend to block every project. I could tell this skirt needed to be blocked because of how it looked and felt.
This is my skirt laid flat after I finished making it. Even though my gauge and stitches were correct, the shape is a little wrong due to the stretchy nature of the lace crochet. It was bunched up in my hands while I worked on it and it was balled up in a bag when I put it away. The waist band is a little stretched out and the design is a little scrunched up:
The fit isn't quite right even though I made it to fit me and all the measurements were correct. The waist is too loose and the skirt is too short:
My skirt stretches to the correct length, but it doesn't stay there and it shrinks back up. The lacy design is pretty when spread out, but it wrinkles up when let loose. Blocking will fix all of these problems.
First I gently handwashed my skirt in the sink. I filled a sink with water and a bit of laundry soap and swished and squeezed the skirt until it was clean, then rinsed it out with clean water. When it was done, I gently squeezed out all the extra water, without twisting it which could stretch out the fibers and distort the shape.
I don't have a blocking board or blocking pins, so I used a towel and safety pins. I laid out my damp skirt on the towel and shaped it, pinning it to the towel to hold it in place. I used my measuring tape to make sure it was the length and width it's supposed to be. I used quite a few safety pins and placed them in any of the areas that wanted to scrunch up:
(I was worried the towel would want to roll up with the skirt tugging on it, but it stayed flat with no problem). After the skirt was shaped and pinned, I placed another towel on top of it and pressed on it to soak up any extra water, then took that towel off. I left my skirt (still pinned to the first towel) in a room with a ceiling fan to let it dry. It was completely dry the next morning. Since it dried this way, when I took the pins out, it kept the shape:
Notice how the fit is better. The length is longer and the design is prettier. This is how it's supposed to look:
Blocking isn't hard to do at all, however it can be a little time consuming. If it was something I did a lot, I'd probably invest in the proper supplies. But for now I can make do with what I have. When I wash my skirt again it will have to be laid flat to dry in the correct shape again. I made the mistake of throwing a cotton lace crochet dress in the dryer once and it came out shrunken and wrinkled. I was able to fix it with blocking. :)