Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sleeve and train photos

Mom was up for Thanksgiving and took some pics of the ensemble.

We determined that the single sleeves I'd made were too narrow and so did this mockup with both of them together:

And took a couple separate views of the train - one with it spread all the way out and one with it crumpled down to fit the fabric.
You can see that although I've taken out most of my lifelines, I haven't given up on all of them just yet!

I'm going to try and dye some samples tonight or tomorrow. I was so tempted to just throw the whole thing in the dye (the dyeing process is really complicated! It has a lot of steps! I don't want to do it more than once!), but when I told Justin I'd gotten the dye in the mail he said to me "You are going to do a practice run first, right?" In that voice he uses when he knows my intention is to do the exact opposite. Busted!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dye Received

Big box o' dyeing supplies was on my chair at work when I got in today. Not sure if this will be happening until after Thanksgiving... but Mom did ask if there would be any dyed items during her visit and so I might press her into service!

Here's my latest color inspiration picture:

How gorgeous is that? She even has dark red hair like me! (Although I think my groom is much cuter!)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Buying the Dye

After some advice from Lakeside Linen and some random research online and some evaluation of the materials I have on hand at home, I have purchased my dye.

And it's been shipped.

I continue to work on the sleeves and will be dyeing my swatches first as a test.

And dyeing a bunch of extra yarn as well.

Fingers crossed.

Cute Little Sleeves

I think it'll improve a lot with blocking. For some reason I didn't take a picture when it was done. Worked up fairly easily in just a few hours spread over two nights and I took copious notes, so I have fairly high hopes about making the other one with little trouble. Hopefully those aren't famous last words.

This dress sews up fast

Which is really good, because I don't really like it.

Justin had a long day at work on Sunday - shifts at both jobs - and I was recovering from a cold and didn't want to go out, so it was a perfect day for sewing. And in the end - I finished the dress mock up.You can see that the Halloween decorations are still up.

Okay, actually I didn't set in the zipper b/c I really didn't think I liked the dress. In a word, it is too big. Well, two words. Not too big for me - it fits just fine. But there is too much fabric in general. The skirt, as I expected is much too full to go under the lace. It doesn't exactly look bad, but doesn't have the sleek, flowy look that I had envisioned. More of a sausage kind of look. I didn't think I was going to like the ruching over the bust either, but that wasn't too bad once I put the dress on.

Anyway, I thought of many things and alterations... I think first thing will be to try the same top with a slimmer, A-line skirt. I promised Mom that I would change nothing until she came up for Thanksgiving and could see it and give me another opinion. Then I think we'll try to make another skirt out of the large pieces of the first skirt.

Oh and the train's not nearly long enough.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In which I baste

These are the myriad pieces of my bodice. The bodice has both a lining and an underlining.

Step one is to baste the underlining to the fabric pieces. Of course, I cut all the pieces out of the same fabric, so it doesn't look like much. But I did a whole lotta basting.

Here it is with the flash:

And by the light of the sewing machine:

These are steps that usually annoy me and I rush through or skip. But I am trying to use my hard won Halloween costume lesson of patience (and pinning. and basting.)
And now I'm going to take a nap.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What I've been up to lately...

So I made that skirt at the beginning of the month and then wedding dress sewing went on hiatus so I could focus on Halloween costume sewing.

Halloween is like a high holy day to both Justin & I and it doesn't seem like a real holiday to me unless I make at least some part of our costumes. A purely store bought costume seems like a cop out to me. I've done it before, but I do always try to make some portion of at least one of our costumes.

This year, I outdid myself a bit. I made both. Completely. From scratch.

I did have an old bathing suit pattern that I partially used for mine, but the whole top is improvised. And Justin's was completely made up, with some vague guidance from a shirt and a pair of his pajama pants. It was very interesting and I learned a few things.

First - although least useful in terms of wedding dress construction - I did some cool things with boning. A whole lotta infrastructure went into make that collar stand up, including an elaborate skeleton made out of zip ties. There were back supports that hooked into his tunic under his robe. There really should have been an extra hook on the front of the robe to keep the collar from turning on itself, which it had a slight tendency to do when he moved (which he kept doing all evening long. Silly man wouldn't just stand still and be admired! He wanted to enjoy his own party!) I was very proud of myself, since all my knowledge of using boning in this way comes from a 10 second clip from Season 4 of Project Runway where Chris March was making one of his elaborate gowns which had a huge collar and it showed the model being buckled into a harness underneath her dress to support the thing.

However since my plans for the dress do not include a huge collar, this was the least practical of the lessons I learned. And really, I don't think I technically "learned" anything, since I knew all this stuff already, but it was good to have it driven home to me yet again.

1) Slippery fabric is a real pain in the butt to deal with. You must be patient.

2) You must pin EVERYTHING.

3) Basting really is a good idea, especially for tight fitting things (the legs of my bathing suit almost brought me to tears one night).

4) The sewing machine knows when you're angry. I was told this by a professional costumer in college and it affirmed all my previous sewing experiences. If you are angry, frustrated or tired the machine knows. You will make more horrible mistakes and you will then need to spend an epic amount of time picking them out (one more reason it's good to baste). It's always better to stop and not try to push on to some artificially imposed stopping point (I will stop after I set in this zipper - yeah, it's a great idea to try and set in a zipper when tired and cranky.)

5) When you're sewing and you're really on a roll, it's awesome.

6) Also awesome - compliments. Got a big bunch of them and am starting work on the practice dress full of confidence in my own sewing prowess. Just confidence mind you. Don't want to bring down the wrath of any sewing gods.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Last Monday I finally did the deed. Literally months after I'd cast off the dress, I actually cut the thread which bound it to the cone of yarn.

Of course, before I did that, I wound off an absolutely enormous amount of yarn, a huge hank of it and I cut the thread on the other side of the huge hank. If I need to do any reknitting at the top, I'm covered.

Then I set about dealing with the unwieldy hem/cast on edge. In the time that's been freed up since finishing the dress, I taught myself to crochet and I did a single crochet all the way around the bottom edge. It took forever. Well, not really forever, but it took 3-4 hours.

I was telling a new coworker about the dress the other day and she asked how many hours I thought I'd worked on it. I couldn't even hazard a guess. So I was aware of the time as I did this crocheted border. Looking back, I can only say that I've worked on the dress "a lot". I had thought 100 hours, but I think that's a woefully low estimate. Fortunately this was 3-4 hours well spent as the hem is now much more stable and the scallops that are a part of this lace design are already showing up more clearly. I'm even considering doing a similar border up each of the side edges.

Those are much shorter - I bet it would only take 2 hours.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sewing Commences!

Last night I FINALLY sat down and banged out the skirt for the practice dress.

It's funny - someone yesterday asked how many hours I thought I'd worked on the dress and I couldn't even begin to venture an estimate. There have been busy months and there have been slow months in terms of dress progress. September, for example, was a slow month. Not really sure why - I was on vacation for a week, but what was I doing the other 3 weeks? Not a clue.

Speaking of which - mental note to self: You are not as smart as you think you are. Or rather, you are every inch the brilliant woman that you think you are, but your memory is not as good as you think it is. So the next time you draft a brilliant pattern piece or come up with a brilliant knitting pattern, for god's sake - WRITE IT DOWN. TAKE SOME DAMN NOTES. As you might remember I had to piece together the train b/c the pattern was too wide for the fabric and also because of the fabric flaws. Trying to figure out what the hell I was thinking when I cut out those pieces was challenging at best. I did figure it out eventually, but a note or even some conscientious pinning would have made a big difference.

So anyway - sewed the skirt last night. Wow. It's large. I keep saying that about parts of the dress, don't I? Anyway, just looking at it I think it's going to be too full for what I'm going for and I'm going to end up switching to a more A-line skirt, but I'm going forward with it for now. I'm also a little concerned that the drape of the train is going to end up being too short.
See that little bit of train hanging down? It looks too much like an afterthought. And I'm blaming that on the size of the other skirt pieces, not on my pattern drafting.

Didn't get to try it on with the knitted lace - it's too unmanageable in its current form. Once I have it attached to some form of bodice I'll do a test run.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The dyeing saga...

Dyeing linen is really hard. It's insanely complicated, which is something I really wasn't prepared for when I came up with this "I'll just dye it!" idea months ago. Poor planning on my part really.

But apparently plant fibers are insanely more complicated to dye than animal fibers (like wool). Very few dyers actually seem to dye linen. And dyers seem to be a very close mouthed group of people as a rule. I'm not sure why this is, but I'm having very little lucky getting advice and am mainly relying on one article I found on Knitty for guidance.

Fortunately it's a really thorough article.

So I'm going to have to dye this thing and I'll probably have to do it on the back fire escape and I guess I better do it before it gets too cold. The time has come. I must bite the bullet and buy some dyeing materials.

** Well that's the blog I'd written before I was given a little bit of hope on the dyeing front. Through the wonders of the NYC MetroStitches I am possibly getting hooked up with some ladies who specialize in linen dyeing. Hopefully they'll give me some advice! Everyone keep your fingers crossed for me...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Making the Muslin

Which is actually not made of muslin, but of Silk Essence (the essence being that it's 100% polyester). So far I've cut the thing out and when I return from vacation I will begin to sew.

And let me tell you, cutting it out was epic.

First of all, this was a few weeks ago, when some may know that Justin & I had a weekend from hell. Friday night we notice that our cat Chiana, typically squinty eyed, was insanely squinty in the eye department. She tried to do her usual thing of sitting between us and alternately glaring at one person, then the other, but was hampered by the fact that her eyes really weren't opening. We weren't positive something was wrong, but with Labor Day coming up, we didn't want to risk her not being able to see a vet over the long weekend. So Saturday I was up early on the phone to the vet and then taking her to the vet two hours later. Joy. Chiana is generally a very calm cat, but I believe anyone with a pet knows how delightful a trip to the vet can be. An hour later I came home, $150 poorer, with two different medicines which needed to be given to her a total of 5 times per day and with one of those crazy collars to keep her from rubbing her eye (she had a cyst in it). She didn't like the collar.

Approximately 20 minutes later, Justin & I smelled smoke and heard fire engines. Fortunately our building was not on fire, but the one behind us was. The street was shut down. Huge ladder trucks were pulled up with their ladders on our roof. Justin watched out our back window and saw fire fighters rescue two people. And could feel heat from the flames. It was that close. I had gone out to look around outside and saw a fire fighter rescue a dog from a fire escape. It was crazy, but we were lucky. Our apartment just smelled like smoke for a few days. We did promptly check our smoke detector and our renter's insurance policy though.

So anyway, traumatic weekend. Sunday I decide to cut out the dress. This is very difficult with a cat. Cats feel that the should be able to la on anything and they love tissue paper, which is of course what patterns are made of. So there was a lot of this:
And she was so miserable in general that weekend, that I felt really bad making her move.

Actually the first problem came when I realized that I could not find the pattern envelope or the first page of the directions. I took them with me to Maryland to buy the fabric. They have vanished. I have no clue where they are. I'm worried I threw them out by mistake. I was able to get the sizing measurements off the internet and I could live without the first page of instructions, fortunately. It was mostly the suggestions for how to lay out the pattern pieces and I generally ignore those anyway. But I'm very frustrated that that envelope is missing.

Also, I need new scissors. Really, really badly. Because mine have a serious dull spot which meant that every few minutes they'd catch, not cut and I'd end up with this:

Oh and the six yards of fabric I bought? When I opened it all up and unfolded it, I found this: In case you can't see it too well, there's a 3" slash on one edge, two huge red X's in some kind of grease pencil and also a red stamp of some kind. And the stamp does show through onto the other side of the fabric. Yeah, that made laying things out really interesting. Fortunately I was able to cut around a lot of it and what did make it in is all in the train. And if I do convert this dress to something I could wear normally, the train will be the first thing to go. But I was mightily annoyed.

The final thing is this:

That's the train pattern being wider than the fabric, something which I confess I did not think of AT ALL when I was drafting the pattern. Now this fabric is about 44" wide, not 45", but I don't think that extra inch would make much of a difference. Which means I need to either 1) buy only 60" fabric, 2) redraft the train or 3) make the train in several pieces. I ended up going with option 3 for this trial run, and we'll see how that looks. Even in the finished product, the train will be entirely under the knitted lace, so a couple seams are the end of the world. But I'd been laying out and cutting for about 2 hours at that point. So I wasn't real thrilled.

Still, it's cut out! And I drafted the slight changes to the top of the bodice to allow for straps - I want it to swoop up a bit into the straps, rather than just go straight across. Fingers crossed on that one.

I used the pattern to cut out a new top for an old dress of mine - the green one I wore to my friend Mary's wedding. I'm a little nervous about my size selection now, b/c that version at least was way big. I was swimming in it. Now granted, I am not a well endowed woman by any stretch of the imagination, but it appeared to be meant for someone with double D's. Hence my nervousness. I'm thinking that a lot of alterations may be in order.

Mostly done. Really this time.

So I've cast off for the skirt. Twice actually. I haven't actually cut the thread, so the skirt is still attached to the enormous cone of yarn. But the knitting on the skirt is, in essence, done.

It was actually done about two weeks ago and since then the dress has been sleeping quietly as I contemplate what exactly to do next.

The first bind off - took place on a Saturday night. I'd worked the decrease rows that come with the lace chart, which are actually meant to gather in the top of the knitting for attaching to an empire waisted bodice - perfect. Exactly what I wanted. I was still worried about it being a little too big, so I bound off REALLY tightly. I mean really, I knit tight anyway. It was crazy tight.

Of course the next day when I tried it on I realized two things:
1) The top was now too small and wouldn't meet in the front when wrapped around my chest. There was about a one inch gap.
2) The whole thing was too long. Fine if I was planning to wear heels. But I'm not. Also the last few inches weren't blocked and there was no room for this thing to droop AT ALL. Not good.

So I had to pull back about six rows. The decreases are meant to be done on lines 13-14 or 6-7 of the pattern. I'd done the 6-7 decreases. Essentially what I did was pull out those 7 rows, then the 13, 14, 15 & 16th rows of the repeat below. That was a little rough since I'd foolishly put in a lifeline at the end of the pattern repeat (you can see the beige lifeline in the pics above), ie. above row 16, instead of at the decrease point, between rows 12 & 13. Fortunately I was able to drop the stitches down and pic them up one by one, which was vaguely nerve-wracking and extremely time consuming, but worked.

I did the new decreases. Mindful of the 1" gap (which really was more like a 2" gap), I bound off REALLY loosely.

It is now the correct length.

It overlaps about 2" in the front, which I think is good and will provide visual interest.

It needs to be blocked, but it is done.

And it can't be blocked til I scrub out the bathtub and buy a new stopper for the drain, to replace the one I threw out months ago in a fit of pique. I tried to register for a new drain stopper, but Justin refused to scan it with the gun at Bed Bath & Beyond. He was opposed to putting a $2.99 item on the registry and said he'd just buy it for me if I wanted it so damn bad. He didn't though. I really should have pressed him on that one.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Making a train pattern

So here's the post I promised about making the train pattern. Life got crazy last week with my office moving, so this post has been sitting for over a week waiting to get finished. Anyway...

I started out with the dress laid out on a sheet on the floor, as I posted previously. Then I threaded some green ribbon through those handy lines of yarnovers I obsessed over when I was decreasing for the train. The neat line of yarnovers stopped below the yellow life line, so I just laid the ribbons on top of the piece, continuing the diagonal lines as established by the yarnovers.

I took a look at it and decided I'd laid it out with the train waaaay too short and wide. So I did it again, stretching it longer & skinnier this time.

It's not so obvious in the photos, but it was in real life. Trust me on this one.

Then I covered the train area with tissue paper and taped all the paper together.

I tried to then trace the lines of ribbon with a pencil, but it wasn't really working - I obviously didn't want to press too hard, but still kept tearing the tissue. So I dug out my little sewing marking wheel thingie (I'm sure it has a real name, I just don't know what it is) - which is a little spikey wheel on a handle. I used this to trace the ribbon lines.

Then I cut out along the lines, leaving plenty of extra room.

I folded the pattern piece in half in a vague attempt to make something symmetrical and taken into account the differences between how the piece was blocked on its right and left sides.

Finally, I used a highly scientific process, involving an improvised compass (a piece of yarn tied to a pen) to determine that the curve at the bottom of the train did not work as any kind of regular, semicircular curve known to man (or woman). So I kind of spliced two curves together and came out with something that still looked pretty good to the naked eye.

And that's the train pattern piece. Isn't it cute?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Done? Not so much.

So last Thursday night I was quietly sitting, finishing up the first Size 8 rep of the chart while watching Defying Gravity (I'm of mixed opinions). After I finished (the chart, not the show), I thought, "Well, I better do a test and see how long this is, so I can decide how many more reps I need." I used my highly scientific method of holding the needle around my body and then raising it until the bottom edge of the fronts of the dress rested on the ground. I put the needle about at my waist. Nope, dragging on the ground. Raised it. Raised it. Raised it to just under my boobs, which as you all may know is where the skirt on an empire waisted dress sits.

I stood in shock. The dress was done.

I went into the dressing room to see what I looked like - one hand holding the needles around my chest, the other holding the still enormous cone of yarn. As I walked through my closet (our apartment geography is weird, my closet is a tiny hallway that connects the main apartment to our dressing room, which is another small room where we keep all our dressers and I have my sewing machine, as well as all the Barbies that Justin deems too "girly" to be displayed in the public areas of the apartment), something happened. Something which has plagued my mother's fears every since I made the decision to knit the dress. The bottom hem caught on something. Specifically, it caught on one of the boot hooks of my Doc Martens, which were mysteriously kind of out and about in the closet, as opposed to kicked to the back as one would expect of boots in August. Anyway, the dress caught, I felt a tug and I stopped moving. I quickly ascertained the source of the tug, unhooked the dress and moved on. The place that had snagged immediately blended back into the froth of lace that is the bottom border.

So that's one major worry semi-resolved. I will still do some reinforcing down there, of course, but the dress caught and there was no disaster.

I looked at myself in our full length mirror and, allowing for the fact that I was wearing a t shirt and shorts under it, the dress looked damn good. My main thought at this point was:


"What am I going to do now?"

The answer was "Some frogging." The dress had only one rep of the chart on the Size 8's and I really did want some more. Plus I needed to to the final decreasing to get the piece down to something vaguely approaching my underbust measurement. And it was on the floor. In fact, it was bordering on slightly too long.

So I sat back down on the sofa. And ripped back to my last lifeline, which was where I'd switched to the Size 8's.

Then I looked at the next lifeline - the one I'd put in right before I did the final train decreases. The decreases I'd decided I could live with, but now that I was looking at them again and thinking how they'd be more on my back and less on my butt, I was less thrilled with them. I threw caution to the winds, pulled out the first lifeline and ripped down to the second.Here's a pic showing the two lifelines - the vertical arrow is the first lifeline and the horizontal one is the second - both are a little hard to see since they're turquoise and blue on a blue background.

So now I'm redoing the train decreases and I feel much better about them - it's not quite done yet, but I looked at the pattern of the lace and I think I came up with a concept for the decreasing that flows with the pattern much better. It probably won't take the full 16 rows to decrease out the stitches, so as soon as I've done so I'm going to switch over to the Size 8 needles.

I'm hoping to get off one rep through the chart and then 7 rows more. The lace chart comes with an additional set of decreases to be done on either row 7 or row 13 (I think), which is used in the Dayflower Cami pattern to decrease the skirt before the bust stitches are picked up. It's a pretty good decrease pattern and I think it will work for me.

So the end is in sight. Really close. I have to figure out how I'm going to cast this off and if I want a little extra ruffly bit at the top. I really thought I'd have more time to make these decisions.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Aerial Views

So I switched over to the Size 8 emails last weekend and did a few rows on Friday night. The needles seem so tiny! I actually switched mid pattern - I didn't want to make the switch right after I finished the train decreases, but I didn't want a whole other rep in the Size 10's. Put a lifeline in on the last row in the Size 10's. Finished up the pattern, threw it on yet another lifeline and pulled the whole thing off the needles yet again.

Here it is all crumply. I spread a sheet on the floor so it wouldn't touch our yucky carpet and started spreading it out.

It's really, really big. I had to climb up on the arm of a chair to get the whole thing in frame.

I mean, it's huge. You can see the train section in the middle, all nice and curvy, the border looks great in the photo - still have some worries about finishing the edge, but the pattern looks great. There's too little of the Size 8 section completed to really get the contrast between it and the Size 10 - most of what you can see is on the Size 10 needles. I think I'm going to need to do a bit more decreasing to bring it down to my underbust measurement, but I feel pretty confident about that working.

I actually now feel confident enough to say that I think I am pulling off this crazy scheme of mine. The last time I took it off the needles it still looked way too large and wide and kind of like a misshapen shawl. Now it really looks like something. Like part of a dress. Like the elegant lace that will go over my wedding dress.

Next post will be me drafting the pattern piece to make the train for the fabric portion of the dress - fun!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Other Knitting

Will have a major update soon, but for now, take a look at the cute little booties and hat I made for my cousin Cary, who's having a little girl in December. (In fairness to family, I will mention that her sister Gretchen is having a baby hopefully any day now. But she elected not to find out the sex, so no booties for her til after delivery.)

Both of these are super cute and easy knits, free on Ravelry. Mary Jane booties and the Berry Baby Hat. I've made the booties for several babies and a 4 year old too, just by using bigger needles & yarn. I'm thinking of making a pair of these booties in grown up size for myself! The hat was a first time knit, but I will definitely do again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, m'dear...

"... or forgetful."

To quote the Disney cartoon version of Robin Hood (the one with the foxes? Tell me you didn't love that movie as a kid? I called it "Fox Love" when I was little.)

Well in this case Lady Cluck was right and absense did make the heart grow fonder. No dress knitting since last Thursday, total physical absense from the dress since Saturday (and a complete inability to spell absence, as spellchecker keeps alerting me). I missed it! I wish to work on it again!

And I bought the fabric for the "muslin" of the fabric part. Went for a green similar to what the lace will eventually become. Figured, why not?This pic is surprisingly true to the actual color of the fabric. Ultimately I'd like the lace to be a less silvery green, but for a cheap mock up, this is a pretty good color. Might even turn out pretty enough to wear on its own!

B/c I'll need another full length dress with a train? Right?

A whole new stage of drama is about to begin...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Project Fatigue vs. Separation Anxiety

So for the first time I’m experiencing true dress infidelity. Like, I’m feeling the desire to work on other projects. A strong desire. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’ve not touched another bit of knitting since I started the dress. I was working on a summer sweater of my own design during Arsenic and Old Lace. Almost finished that, but a fatal flaw in sizing, as well as a yarn flaw that I thought wouldn’t be obvious and really was, sent that project to the frog pond. I’ve also been working on a cute striped bikini top with the leftovers from the baby tart hats. That’s almost done, it just needs a cute piece of cotton to be used as a skirt and make it into an apron top or a dress. And I did a variety of baby knitting of little hats and booties… although technically I think I was still just swatching on the dress then.

But throughout all of this, I really just anted to be working on the dress. And now, I find myself wanting to work on other things. I spent a great deal of Monday night frogging old projects. In an attempt to save money and the earth and yarn and such, I’ve been taking apart things that just didn’t work. The first was the summer sweater mentioned above. That I plan to remake, just correcting for my horrible mistakes in terms of gauge (although I really should have checked my gauge before frogging the whole thing. Darn.) And I cut out the bad yarn flaw, which I’d ignored as I knit in the dark and ended up being right over my belly button in an extraordinarily obvious fashion.

I also am in the process of frogging the first sweater I ever made. It was woefully large and although I loved it for being the first thing I made, I wore it twice and knew I’d never wear it again. And I’d spent waaaay too much on the yarn to let it lie. I started frogging it last year, then was distracted, then realized just the other day that I really wanted to make the Airy Wrap cardigan from Fitted Knits. And this yarn would work for it. So joy of joys, I’m frogging mohair. In August. On 90 degree days. I’m insane.

Really, the heat may be part of my lack of desire to work on the dress. Even though it’s light and airy and all that, it’s still pretty warm when the whole thing is piled in my lap on a 90 degree day. So we’ll hope it isn’t 90 degrees the day of the wedding. Of course we're hoping that anyway. Also I don’t plan to spend the wedding with all the lace of my dress piled in my lap. I’m planning something vaguely more aesthetically attractive than that.

I’m frogging my Cropped Cardigan with Leaf Ties. I love it and I love how it looks, just not on me. On me, it does not cover my boobs. And it’s not like I have big boobs to cover. It just kind of frames them in an odd way. I don’t know yet what that yarn will become – some other kind of cropped sweater I suppose, or maybe a full length but short sleeved one.

But in the end, I think part of the reason that I’ve slowed working on the dress is that I know that the more I work, the closer it will be to being done. The process has become almost bittersweet. Once I finish the final train decrease, there really aren’t any big challenges left with the skirt. I’ll have to do the crocheting around the top to reinforce it so it will hang properly. But that will be after I’ve cast off. I’ll have to do the final decreases for the empire waist, but after all the decreasing I’ve already done, I’m not too worried. The end of the knitting of the lace skirt is in sight. Still at least a month out, but in sight. It’s a wonderful thing. But it’s also a little sad.

Or it could just be that I’m terrified of dyeing this thing and I’m trying to put it off as long as possible.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ode to my Lifelines

I'd never used lifelines before this project and let me tell you, they've been, well, lifesavers. Really, I realized that I hadn't knitted a lot of lace before this project - some scarves, Branching Out, Wisp & Juno Regina, and the original Dayflower Cami that inspired the dress. Some projects with lace trimming or some such, but otherwise that's all.

Only one time have I had to unravel all the way to a lifeline for the whole dress - the first train decrease I did wind up taking out a whole 16 rows. That was kind of depressing. And there was the one isolated section where I dropped down to the lifeline and fixed one repeat of the chart. But just knowing the lifelines were there has been so good for me psychologically.

I took this picture to show off all my lovely lifelines. (And added some green arrows in MSPaint, since they're a little hard to see against the plaid sheet background.) The first is the purple - it's at the top of the border section. The second, pink, is at the top of the short row section. In this pic they're very close together, but at the deepest part of the short rows they're 12-18" apart. Then I placed the yellow lifeline before I started decreasing for the train and the blue one after the first train decrease. I've since pulled that blue lifeline; now it's just before the final group of train decreases, which is the one where I'll be decreasing from both sides in one repeat of the chart. I made a special new chart just for this section, but I really couldn't face another swatch, so I'm just knitting the whole darn thing. But I did at least have the sense to place a lifeline, so if it looks like crap, away it'll go again. Plan then is to pull the blue lifeline a second time and run it through at the top of the train section.

Plan after that is probably a couple more repeats on the 10 needles, then the final needle change down to the 8's. Can you believe that? FINAL NEEDLE CHANGE.

Clearly, I'm having a hard time with it.

Almost a whole train

See those two stitch markers? See how close together they are? They used to be NINE repeats of the chart apart from each other. Now they're less than 3 repeats from each other.

I said to Justin yesterday - I think I'm closer to the end of this now than the beginning. He looked at the pile of knitting and said, "That's not the whole thing, right?" In Justin's defense, he hasn't seen any of the sketches of the completed dress - allowing for the whole thing to be a bit of surprise on the big day. I quickly reassured him that it was NOT the whole thing, that there would in fact be a large fabric portion to the dress so I wasn't, you know, indecently exposing myself to all our family and friends. He nodded.

"I figured."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My first wedding related injury

Burnt myself on the iron when steam blocking last Sunday night. Was on the phone with my mom - when she heard me say "Ow" she asked what was wrong. When I admitted to burning myself, she said "You probably shouldn't be doing that while talking on the phone." Apparently I can do nothing without total concentration, or disaster may occur.

Treatment included a Spider-Man ice pack (no, I do not know why we had one of those in the freezer), some Neosporin and a band-aid. One week later my arm looks like this:

And the dress looks like this:

Lightly steam blocked and still on the needles - which I shoved into the cargo pockets of my capri pants for this photo.

I almost can't wait to really wet block this thing. Only the fact that it will take both many hours and about a million pins is holding me back. That and the fact that we keep having company on the guest room bed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Successful Decreasing

Hooray! A post that is not about failures!
Or mistakes! Yay!

Successfully finished my first set of decreases - the train now contains 7 repetitions of the pattern instead of 9. Didn't end up following the swatches/charts I'd made exactly. Had a couple of ideas on the fly and am now trying to chart out what I actually did... we shall see. Each set of decreases MIGHT be a little different and that's okay.

The whole thing is still huge. I attempted to photograph it on the ironing board. It didn't work. The apartment is too narrow for me to get a shot!

Here it is spread out across a green dress for some contrast. Of course eventually the lace will be green and the dress will be ivory... and it won't be this shade of green, but whatever. Yes, that is more of the dress hanging off the ironing board in the back of the picture. It's still extremely wide.

The decreases came out pretty well - I think they blend really well... hopefully will continue to do so as I do more of them! This is the left side decrease section.

And this is the right side of it. Hopefully when all the decreases are done I'll have two nice diagonal lines of yarn overs tracing the boundaries of the train.

Although it looks huge all spread out - okay, it actually is huge when it's all stretched out - when it hangs it has a nice drape. I'll be making the "muslin" of the fabric portion of the dress sometime in August and I'm thinking I'll start with the pattern with the more gathered, as opposed to the A line skirt. I don't envision that the fabric/knitted pieces will be exactly the same size, but I figure they should be in the same ballpark at least.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tragedy narrowly averted.

Of course all of my postings seem to deal with mistakes - otherwise at this point it's just a lot of blah blah, it's so pretty blah blah.

(Although I am almost to the point where I can do the lace pattern without checking the chart! Just need to do a quick peak at the beginning of each new row to make sure I'm on the right track. Very exciting as I rarely get to this point. Of course, now I'm nearly at the point where I need to use my decrease charts, so soon I'll be chart bound again.)

So yeah, found another mistake; couldn't figure out how to fix it on the fly and pulling back would have taken me down to the pink lifeline which I frankly found depressing. Since the mistake was limited to one repeat of the chart and was so close to the lifeline, I decided to try something kind of radical.
Using my KnitPicks Options Needles (product placement) I sectioned off the damaged section - took off the actual needle tips and then used the caps they give you to secure either end of the rest of the work. Then I unraveled all the affected stitches in the repeat down to the lifeline.

I picked them all back up using an extra needle. From there I reknitted each row using the loose yarn. Aside from the fact that I picked up and started knitting with a size 8 needle, forgetting that the section was on 10's, it wasn't too hard. That first row I was sitting there thinking "Why do I have all this yarn left over?" but once I realized the whole sizing issue, it went fairly smoothly.

I put my extra cable on to my size 10 tips and knitted away.

Six rows later I was able to disconnect the caps, reattach the points and continue on as if nothing had happened!

I think one or two of the yarnovers in this section might be twisted a little funny, but it's nothing that leaps out at you. I've now knitted almost the whole rest of this repetition of the pattern and I can no longer find the mistake.

The repetition I'm finishing up right now is the full length of the piece, no increases, decreases or short rows, on Size 10 needles. My original plan had been to immediately start decreasing for the trains, but I did some math and realized that that would make the train end below my butt (or possible in the middle of my butt) and I'd like it to end above my butt. So I threw in this extra repetition, which will hopefully move it into the higher butt area.

On the not actively knitting related front - I'm thinking more and more about adding something to the border/Size 13 section to stabilize it. This section will be the part dragging on the ground, both as the train and as the hem of the dress and as I think I've said before, those cast on loops (and all the other loops) are biiiig. The fabric portion of the dress will give it some protection, but since we're getting married outdoors on a pier, I'm walking over a brick deck and our site has a whole lot of heavy machinery all over the place, I want to help this dress out all I can. I'd prefer to keep the knitted and fabric portions as two separate entities, so I don't want to baste the hems together, but I'm still thinking of crocheting around the bottom edge of the border or possibly adding some kind of tulle backing to the border section only. This would be tacked on at both the top and bottom of the section and maybe at a few other places in between and would hopefully give it some extra stability. This is an idea that won't be acted on for quite awhile, but it's something I'm giving more and more thought to lately.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Who knew we'd be seeing swatches again at this late stage of the game???

But once I finished all those short rows I realized that I'd never come up with a left decreasing swatch that I liked. So I set about making some new ones.

Really loved my first one, but went off the reservation a little bit and made it with four too many rows. Too bad, as it was very pretty.
It's the one on the right and actually doesn't look too pretty here. After I blocked it I had stuffed it in my tote bag and I did a less than stellar job of smoothing it out again before taking this photo.

Anyway, went back to make one with the appropriate number of rows. Took a bit of charting and a bit of winging it, but finally came up with something that I like - the swatch on the left above.

Only to pick up the dress again and realize that I was on about row 6 of the 16 line chart, and starting to decrease part way through the chart would be confusing at best, since I made it to start decreasing on row 1.

So I'm going once through the chart plain - no decreases or anything. Should take another night hopefully. I'll try not to rush...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Very Pretty!

Managed to finish up those short rows, put in another lifeline and do some more steam blocking.

Laid out a clean sheet on the floor and laid this baby down.

With the flash
And without (slightly blurry, but the colors are nicer)

The section in the middle is what will be the train; the narrow pieces going off to either side will be the sides & side-backs of the skirt. I'm now going to start slowly decreasing out the train section, which is about 1/3 of the total length, so eventually it will come to an end in an inverted V, hopefully somewhere in my middle/lower back area. The whole thing is on size 10 needles now and will be for some time until I do the final switch down to size 8's for the last 10" or so.

I'm pretty excited.

PS When I showed this to Justin, he did not mention cobwebs. He just said "very pretty". He's a smart man.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Eh crap - take 2

Just go back and reread any of my screw up posts. B/c really, I do not learn. Did I not say, I should not rush and set arbitrary goals? I think I did. But on the night of July 1st, being very excited about being SOOOO close to being done the short rows, but also being very hungry and wanting to make my dinner, I rushed through the last couple of rows, got to the very last lace repeat (why is it always the last one?) and realized that I was a few stitches short. Realized actually, that the problem was in the second to last repeat, where I'd forgotten to make a couple of yarnovers a couple of rows back, which would now be a couple more stitches and as a result in a place where I should have had 3 stitches, I only had 1.

Just 1 lonely stitch. I tried to kind of pick up and create the stitches. It didn't work.

I turned to Justin and said "It's very frustrated when you get close to the end of something and so you rush a bit to finish it and then you make mistakes." He agreed "That is very frustrating."

I put it down and decided it was time for dinner.

After dinner, feeling much calmer, I pulled back two full rows and the final row just back to the mistake. Fixed it. Re-knitted the two frogged rows and then was able to continue on out of the short row section!

Realized an earlier error, where I'd run the lifeline through my stitch markers. Fortunately, my cheap habit of not buying stitch markers but instead using loops of yarn paid off, as I was just able to untie and retie each loop.

Sighed happily, looking at the fruits of my labor. Turned to Justin and said "Look how pretty!" He said "Very pretty! (pause) It still looks like cobwebs."


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Actually kind of looks like a train

Have about 5 more rows to go til the short row section is completed and I do another off the needles steam blocking.

Took this picture this morning on the couch.

Looks awfully pretty to me.