I'm going to do a little aside today and evangelize the process of blocking. Blocking may sound complicate, but it's really the process of:
* soaking your knitting
* gently (!) squeezing out most of the water
* laying the piece out in the desired shape and size
* letting it air dry to set
This sequence of steps will even up your stitches and ensure that your garment is the correct size. Blocking is a vital finishing step for sweaters and lace, and can make a big difference in the finish of many other types of knitwear.
Don't be put off by my crazy photo above. Blocking is usually very simple, requiring nothing but a free portion of carpet. Besides the steps given above, here are a few tips for blocking:
* Most knitted items can simply be laid flat on the floor and left to dry.
* For sweaters, the important thing is to gently (!) coax the sweater to the desired size measurements before drying.
* Lace is perhaps the most complicated item to block. I like to use pins to really stretch the lace pattern to its limits while it dries.
* Blocking works best for non-synthetic yarns, such as wool, alpaca, and cotton.
You can see the effect of blocking on lace and stockinette in these before and after photos of my Veyla Mitts:
By stretching the lace section during the drying process, the you end up with a pattern that really pops. You can also see how my stitches in the stockinette section look more even after the blocking process. All of these changes are now set in the fabric until I wash it again, at which point I would need to reblock these mitts.
So I encourage you to give blocking a try, especially if you've never done it before. I'm sure that you will be pleased with the results!