Last week several of our customers asked me about what I was knitting to which I replied "an ugly swatch". No one disagreed with me; although some were kind enough to say that the colour was pretty. By the next day there were actually two ugly swatches. They were knit from the same ball of Noro Silk Garden (notice below that the colour at the top of the swatch on the left continues at the bottom of the one on the right). They both have the same number of stitches and rows, same pattern and were both knit on 5 mm needles. They were part of a demonstration for the Saturday morning "Finely Finished" Class as to the reason for "blocking". Unfortunately, many knitters don't want to take the time to block their knitted pieces before they assemble them.
One of my "ugly swatches" was transformed into a "beautiful lace swatch" as the result of the simple blocking process. It's the little details like blocking that can turn your knitted pieces into garments that you will be proud to wear or give as gifts.
We even have the fellows at Home Depot trained to know that a knitting blocking board comes from styrofoam insulation!