Nothing beats blocking the linen. It comes up so beautiful and crisp. The best thing is it is so easy!
All you need is:
Cork board - a cheap cork pin-up board is perfect
Start by ruling a lines onto the cork board parallel with the edges. This is just so that you have something to align the grain of the fabric with.
Then cover the board with a sheet of clear plastic.
Place the tacks really close together and make sure you pull the fabric taut and straight.
Then pin the remaining two sides, one at a time.
Now all you do is wait... and the next day you have a crisp and beautiful piece of embroidery.