Now I’ve never been a big Design View guy in Visual Studio, mainly because of how it has the tendency of seriously screwing with any markup formatting that you have painstakingly tried to keep consistent. With blend however I actually enjoy using the designer! It could just be because of the fact that there is no intellisense support yet without importing your solution into Visual Studio, which they made pretty darn simple thankfully (right click solution -> open in visual studio).
Think you want to try your hand at hand writing your own xaml you say? Good luck, since any shape not of a primitive nature (circle, square, etc) will make your eyes bleed with complexity.
I’ll be posting more about Blend and Silverlight once I get Live Writer setup on my laptop.