Please. Do not fear the blocking. You will see and feel the difference, trust me. Do it for all lace crochet, do it for all wearables regardless of what fiber is in the yarn. I totally recommend wet blocking, but first you must be sure that the yarn is safely water washable. Check the yarn ball band/label/tag for washing care. If you don’t grok those little hieroglyphics (fabric care symbols) you sometimes find in laceweight print at the bottom of a label, see here. When I first searched for and found this explanation, it musta been what it was like when archeologists found the Rosetta Stone.🙂
(In all my years playing with yarn I have only met two that could not be water washed. One was a silk ribbon, which I lightly steamed. The other was linen paper yarn, which continues to languish in the stash. Don’t ask what I was thinking when I took that one home!)
If it raises your comfort level to think of blocking as simply “hand wash, lay flat to dry”, then that should be your mantra. Unless the pattern instructions tell you to leave any tails for whatever reason, weave in all the loose ends before blocking, so that the ends have the greatest opportunity to get locked into the fabric.
1) Dunk the project in a sink filled with cool water. You can add a drop of fragrant liquid wool wash or shampoo to the water first if you like, no rinsing needed. Get the piece totally wet. Avoid excessive wringing or twisting.
2) Drain the sink, press gently to remove as much water as you can. Either throw the piece in a washing machine and run a spin-only cycle, or roll the piece in towels to soak up as much moisture as possible. Sham Wow towels work great for this task, BTW.
3) Lay the damp piece on a roomy, flat, moisture tolerant surface, like a not-wood table or spare bed or clean floor covered with towels. If you have kids and/or pets I don’t have to warn you that it should be someplace where it can stay for a while and not be disturbed, trampled, soiled or otherwise bothered.
By all means use your special blocking screens or mats that allow air to ciruculate all around, but can fugeddabout the blocking pins, clips, rods and wires, unless you really enjoy the process. Honestly, I believe these instruments of torture were designed by knitters for knitting. The basic knitting stitch, stockinette, has a marked tendency to curl. Perhaps blocking hardware is totally critical for fixing that, but in my experience such tools are never necessary for crochet.
4) Gently but judiciously push, pull, straighten, smooth and fuss with the fabric until the piece has the finished dimensions you want. This is where you help the fabric, the shape and fit of the garment be all it can be. Make it more you-shaped. Help the points become pointy, the curves to curve nicely. Do not overly stretch. Some yarns stretch alarmingly when wet, but will pull back when dry, so if your piece is majorly stretched out of shape, don’t panic. Pat it back to the dimensions it should be. Some yarns actually seize and get tighter when wet, but will relax as they dry. Only experience will tell you what to expect.
4) Allow to dry completely. This might take a couple of hours for a lightweight wool garment. Or a couple of days for heavy cotton in a humid climate.
If this level of immersion is not practical, you can do damp blocking if you like. First spread out your project on a layer of towels atop a water-resistant surface. Using a sprayer or mister or laundry sprinkler, spritz all over with water until dampened. Ease to measurements and allow to dry completely.
As hinted at earlier, you may lightly steam most yarns, but please be careful. DO NOT PRESS or touch your steaming equipment or steam iron to the surface of your crochet. DO NOT PRESS ribbing in general. DO NOT use high heat anywhere near acrylic. You could melt it or kill it.
The problem with steam blocking is that it has to be done bit by bit, area by area, whereas wet or damp blocking allows you to work on the entire garment. Hey, everything is connected. Better to see the whole picture. I have occasionally used steam to touch up trims and remove the “fold line” from previously blocked garments, in the same way I might iron a permanent press shirt that’s a little banged up. It’s great for that purpose.