Monday, March 30, 2009

Wow. People read my blog

There are people following my blog! People besides Jenny! This is very novel for me.

So I felt that the main thing I should do is give some info on the dress vision. So scroll down read the "Inspirations" post. It wasn't up yesterday, but I fought with the scanner, Photoshop and Blogger for awhile and now it is. Hopefully that'll clarify things as many people justifiably said that they couldn't picture the dress.

Second, we've done more talking about wedding dates and it could go as late as May or June now. That decision will be made in about a month when we visit our sites down in Baltimore.

Third and by far the biggest thing is the fact that it has been implied and in some cases stated quite clearly that I am a) delusional, b) misguided, c) in need of a realistic talking to or failing that, a slap in the face (Jenny, presumably you are supposed to administer the slap) or that d) I am flat out insane.

To which I say: Maybe.

But I will say first and foremost that I am so onboard with my own insanity here. Every dress I've worn to every semi-formal occasion since I was 15 years old has been homemade. First by my mom and later by me. My taste has always been a bit off and I come from a very crafty line of women. Am I saying that I won't be crying, swearing and/or throwing the cat? No I am not. I'm just saying that I've cried, sworn and thrown the cat before. We're all used to it here.

Witness the ensembles that I wore to the weddings I attended last year:
Winter wedding - Homemade velvet dress, handknitted shrug.

Destination wedding - homemade sundress, knitted shawl (this dress, oddly caused the most crying and cat throwing)

Future bro & sis in law's wedding - homemade dress - love this one! Inspired by a Barbie doll. Made a little drawstring purse to match and everyone was amazed that I made my purse. I was like "I'm wearing a boned corset! I hemmed ruffles for 10-20 hours! And you're commenting on a purse I made in 20 minutes!" Gracious as always, I kept that though to myself. Also, this is perhaps, the worst picture ever taken of Justin & I, but it shows off the outfit really well, so c'est la vie.

Handknitted shrug - my cousin's wedding - she requested we all wear red and I already had this awesome red dress. (There's my mom with us in the pic - Hi Mom!)

And a final wedding, to which the only handmade thing I wore was a necklace made by my Nana. And I tried to make a sweater and to remake a dress I'd made years ago. Neither worked. I ditched both and it turned out to be such a warm November day that I never could have worn the sweater even if it had turned out.

That being said I have a few safety mechanisms in mind. First off - the sewn portion of the dress will be a perfectly fine wedding dress all on its own. If something horrible happens to the knitting, I will not be nekkid on the wedding day. Or beating down the door of David's Bridal. While I'm relatively new to knitting, I've been sewing since I was 6 years old. That's 25 years of sewing (crap! 25 years???) so I feel pretty confident about that. The plan is to start knitting, then make the fabric dress, then continue knitting and attach the knitting to the dress. The knit parts will be the overskirt and the cap sleeves.

I started another swatch on MUCH bigger needles as I was sitting here watching the blogger progress bar spin on my pics and that had me thinking about Kay's awesome laceweight. It is some cool stuff and the possibility of having a green fabric dress with ivory knitted lace is very tempting. Not the least of which reason is b/c I'm lazy and if I wanted to do some dyeing I'd have to do it on our back fire escape. I'll spare you the visual, it probably wouldn't be pretty. But although I can envision a green dress with ivory, and it's a very nice vision, has a green sash and everything, it's not my wedding dress.

It's not the vision that I had that prompted me to take off on this crazy project. And when you're used to sewing and going totally off the reservation like I am, and when you have less than stellar skills with a pencil (again, read the Inspirations post), that mental vision is the most important thing. Remember those pictures above of my that I wore to the future bro & sis in law's wedding? It started as these two patterns.

My mother asked me: do you ever just make a pattern as it was intended?
Um. No.

Justin & I had this conversation last night:
Me: Honey, Jenny's friend posted about the dress on her blog yesterday and now apparently a lot of people on the internet think I'm insane
Justin: Huh. (pause) Well you know they're kind of right.

But really - I did all that work to look good at other peoples' weddings? How can I not work at least as hard to look good at mine?

Kay's Lace Swatch

So, um - hi Mason Dixon Knitters!

I had this whole plan and in fact have a blog entry waiting about all my inspirations, hopes & dreams... but time kind of got away from me and I didn't scan the things I meant to scan and then this morning Jenny emailed me to let me know that Kay had blogged about me!

So here's just a little bit of Kay's lovely yarn knitted into a swatch. Actually, it's the swatch in the act of being blocked (the post blocking pic didn't turn out so good).

This was on size 3 needles. Too tiny I think... had an original vision of kind of chunky lace, but as the wedding date moves further back into spring and I think about it more, I think lighter & airier is the way to go. So tonight I'll try on something larger...

Sunday, March 22, 2009


All right - this the inspiration post which I wrote last week, but which needed some serious scanner time to be made whole. Anyway, I didn't really edit it other than to add the photos, so here it is, just a little late.

So enough with the swatches. Here are my inspirations for the dress.

First - this lovely sketch that I made of my dress only a couple days after the engagement. I think we can all agree that my talents run more towards the fiber and less towards the graphic arts.

So second is this sketch that I made using the StyleShake website. Not exactly what I want, but they are capable of indicating a small train sweeping below the feet. See how the right side of the dress is wider than the left? That's my attempt to convey a train and/or extra fullness in the back.

Third - my Dayflower Lace Cami - which remains a huge inspiration. This is the color I want. Do you hear me world? (shakes her fist at the skies) Give me this color!
Pictured with my are my awesome, although non-crafty Aunt C, my grandmother, former mistress of pretty much all fiber related arts (blame arthritis for the "former" in her title) and my cousin Cary, knitter extraordinaire.

Although in terms of color, if we end up with a March wedding date, I might consider more of a forest green. I've also considered making myself some matching fingerless lace gloves. I've even considered hooking them to the sleeves a la Camden from last fall's Knitty. (Okay, let the bitching about the badness of that idea begin. You cannot stop me though! I am Bridezilla and your resistance only makes me stronger!)

Finally, the awesome designs of Kitty Chen. I saw this dress and was immediately won over. It came at a time when I had started to doubt my vision a little bit. When I was starting to think not that making the dress was a bad idea, but that maybe my design concept was a little blah, a little to little girly and a little too precious. Then I saw this dress and knew that the concept could be awesome.

Oh and did I mention that I'll have a green veil? Just made of netting thank you - I think the dress will be more than enough knitting for this girl.

The Beginning

So not long after Justin proposed (like within 24 hours) I decided that I wanted to make my own wedding dress. It was the one thing that right away I felt very sure about. Initially we were wrangling over whether we wanted a destination wedding or to be married in Baltimore (home for both of us) and a whole bunch of other things. So the dress was the one sure thing from the beginning. Surprisingly, given the number of sewing related breakdowns he's seen, Justin was fully supportive of this idea.

I already had a vision in mind - almost a year ago I had made So & So's Dayflower Lace Cami and even then I thought it would translate into a beautiful wedding dress. This was what I wanted - empire waist, cap sleeves, square cut bodice and a knitted lace overskirt that would split up the front to reveal a fabric underskirt. The knitting would all be green and the fabric would all be white (or ivory).

And that is where I still am today. I immediately began swatching all of the random bits of yarn that were laying around in my stash.
First - Caron Naturals Spa Yarn. Really, I'm not sure why I did this. I initially toyed with the idea of using a sport or DK weight yarn, but having made a shrug with this yarn, I knew it was splitty and would drive me crazy if I made a whole dress out of it. It's also largely synthetic and very floppy - would not hold up the pattern well at all. Still it was something to do while I look at yarns online and tried to find the perfect string. And it was practice on the Dayflower Lace.

Second I knitted a much larger swatch out of KnitPicks Shine Sport yarn. I love this yarn. This is quite frankly still a contender, even though it's cheap and I don't know how well it would stand the test of time. Still - I will only be wearing this dress once. Anyway - it held the pattern surprisingly well even after having been hung up for several days. Granted, the dress will be a lot heavier, but I still like this as a chunkier alternative to laceweight. For some reason this makes me think of tapestry. It's also the same weight as the yarn I used for my original Dayflower Lace Cami.

I made this swatch out of some leftover sock yarn - ignoring the fact that the striping would make the lace nearly impossible to see. Still - practice.

And then I made a final swatch out of some lightweight sock yarn - Trekking Something Something. This turned out quite well and I was able to block all the lovely little swoops in pretty well. I think this will warrant investment in blocking wires for the real thing though.

Finally my dear friend Jenny Gill told me her grand vision - the vision that leads me to writing this blog today. She wanted to make me and my dress internet famous. I said "what the hell?" you only live once and who doesn't want to be internet famous? Jenny reached out to Kay Gardiner of Mason Dixon knitting for guidance. Told her my main requirements: green, preferably a natural fiber and that it couldn't be too pricey. The budget for this dress (and the whole wedding) is loooow. Kay immediately came back with linen - a fiber that had never crossed either Jenny's or my mind. It dealt so well with the fact that the wedding is planned for spring - making wool, etc a slightly dicey proposition. Furthermore, Kay had a full, enormous cone of Euroflax laceweight in a nice ivory. She suggested dyeing it and so generously offered it up to me for swatching or possibly even dress making. An Upper West Sider like myself, Kay left the yarn at our LYS, Knitty City on Friday night and Saturday afternoon Justin & I walked down to pick it up. It is a huge cone of insanely delicate lace. I am in awe of it.

While we were walking back home we had this discussion. Justin had actually been pretty quiet about the fact that I was taking him on a walk to a yarn store on a Saturday afternoon. The fact that it was a really nice day probably helped in this regard.
"So," I said, "Jenny has this plan for making the dress internet famous."
"Oh," he said. "Jenny is knitting famous?"
"Not Jenny, but a friend of hers is actually a pretty famous knit blogger and has written a couple of books."
It's a testament to how much knitting knowledge he has inadvertently absorbed that Justin took in "knit blogger" without a second thought.
"Jenny asked her for advice and help for me and she left this yarn so I can see if I want to make the dress from it. So I'm going to start a blog and put pictures of the dress on the Internet."

I cannot recall the man's exact response. I believe it was somewhere between "Cool" and "Huh" with a health dose of "whatever the hell you want to do Amy" thrown in for good measure.

"Really, the whole knitting a dress thing is kind of unique. Most knitters if they're going to make something, they make themselves a shawl."

"Yeah, if you were 70 or something." Now Justin's ignorance of knitting culture begins to show.

"Knitted lace shawls are a HUGE thing in the knitting world. People loooove them. But it's not quite my thing. I mean, maybe if the wedding was going to be in January and there was a real need for a shawl. But even if we end up in March, I think I'll deal."

"Huh. Okay then."