With the third version of my next pattern off the needles, I'm again amazed at the way blocking brings out the true beauty of lace. What started out as a wadded, lumpy finished object stretched into an elegant, open piece in less than an hour.
I soaked the above project in tepid water until it was saturated, then gently pressed out as much excess moisture as I could. Next I slid blocking wires along pertinent edges and pinned the project into place using rust-proof T pins on thick, foam mats.
For the areas of lace within the body of the fabric that I wanted to keep straight, I manually adjusted the stitch position, then placed a pin on either side to hold it in place (another option might have been to insert blocking wires into the main lace fabric, although that needs to be done very carefully so that stitches on either side of the wires don't become distorted).
Some edges I chose to create points by pulling stitches out and carefully pinning through them.
I l.o.v.e. blocking wires for finishing lace. You can purchase wires like mine, as well as pins, mats, and other blocking tools, at many local yarn shops. If your LYS doesn't carry them, try online sources for wires and pins, like these shown below from Knitpicks.
My 24" square blocking mats were purchased inexpensively at a large hardware store (sold as anti-fatigue mats for workshop floors), and they work beautifully. Their large size allows me to easily block large projects. If you cannot find mats at your LYS or hardware store, you might like these smaller Knitpicks mats.
Special mats are not necessary for proper blocking (some people use a clean, carpeted floor or bare mattress), but they do make it easier. And I highly recommend blocking wires for the best finish possible on many projects, especially lace.
Although not every knit or crochet project requires blocking, most lace projects will benefit from the opening up of stitches that results. If you are not familiar with blocking lace, there are many excellent tutorials and videos online, like this one from Knitpicks.
A few minutes of blocking a knit or crochet project is time well spent, considering the amount of time, care and money you've already invested in your wonderful project.