Thursday, April 30, 2009

Size 10 swatch anyone?

Maybe with some short rows?

Since the official needles are still in the hands of UPS and the cone of laceweight linen is unending, I have decided that this weekend I will knit another swatch. Size 10. Short rows. An attempt to make a miniature train.

And maybe, MAYBE, a week from now I'll be casting on for real.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Math sucks.

I finished and blocked the size 13 swatch over the weekend. Here it is pre-blocking.
I tried to crumple it up and make it look like it was a train, or flowy or something.
Which really just makes it look like a pretty mess, but that's okay.

So here it is after the blocking.

And gathered up again.

And here it is with the swatch on the size 8 needles, for contrast. Isn't that crazy? I thought that the 13 swatch looked insanely large, but compared to it the size 8 swatch looks almost dense.
I spent most of last night trying to do math and figure out how exactly the train is going to work. I'm planning to go with the two side rectangles and a train triangle idea of construction, but I'm going to knit them as one big piece. The original idea being that the train triangle would give the back fullness (and a train, duh) and it would be decreases out, until there were only the two side rectangles left at the top of the piece. I still want to use that plan, but I'm trying to figure out exactly how to work this. I want to cast on for the whole thing at once, so I think the best was to make the curvy-floor draggy part of the train is to do short rows. I want a big, long section in the Size 13's, probably about a foot deep and then do short rows to fill it the whole "floor section". Then begin the skirt proper and start doing the planned decreases on either side of the skirt train section to give it its triangular shape.

Problem - my experience with short rows is very slight and I'm not sure they'll actually work in this manner. I've done a lot of thinking about this on the subway. Guess I need to sit down and try to chart it out. Urgh. This is the situation where normally I'd just wing it. If I had the needles I'd totally be winging it right now.

But I don't have the needles.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Needles are on order

From Knitpicks - interchangable nickel plated circulars. Now I'm wondering if I should have picked the Harmony Wood. I usually do prefer bamboo or wood to metal. Not really sure what I was thinking on that one. Size 8, 10, 13. Will have pictures of the completed size 13 swatch soon.

Oh and other knitting projects - besides a variety of kiddy stuff and the cardigan I promised to knit for my grandmother, I really want to do the new Gatsby dress from the summer Interweave Knits. That doesn't make me crazy, does it?

I really want those needles...

May 15, 2010

That's the date kids. That's when it's all happening. And quite frankly that is the absolute deadline for the dress to be ready.

Where's it happening? Why at the Baltimore Museum of Industry! Yeah, we loved it before we got there and we loved it even more after we saw it. With everyone word spoken by Jessica, the awesome site coordinator, we loved it more. In fact, it was the second place we visited and we canceled the rest of our appointments. (okay, that's not strictly speaking true. We canceled two and went on one just to make sure that the BMI was THE place. It is.) It has everything we wanted - it's a very different place, big, spread out, tons of stuff to look at, near the Harbor and it screams Baltimore. Weather permitting we'll get married outside on the brick terrace under the neon glow of the Domino's Sugar sign - a Baltimore landmark. Inside we'll party around a crazy variety of exhibits. We are so, so thrilled. Mom said it was great to see both of us so happy - eyes lit up like little kids. When we were driving back on Sunday afternoon/evening Justin turned to me and said "I just can't believe that it's so perfect."
Well, one thing - it was built years ago, so it definitely wasn't under construction when those scenes from "The Wire" were shot. So we'll just have to look out for drug dealers (kidding! No one read that and freak out.)

Got back to NYC and the hand pain which has been plaguing me a bit settled down, so I figured it was time for some more dress work. Took my size 8 swatch and did some math for the top of the dress - know the number of repeats I want for that. Monday night cast on a sixe 13 swatch. Plan is to have 3 "panels" - two side panels of 7 repeats each, which will form the front, sides and part of the back. One larger panel which will be triangular and will form the train and possibly a portion of the center back. I put panels in quotes b/c it will all be one big piece, but I'm still visualizing it in dressmaker terms as pattern pieces. Don't know if that's good, bad or just how my mind works. Anyway - the purpose of the size 13 swatch is to make sure i have sufficient fullness at the base of the skirt - we're going for a gathered A-line shape here, with most of the shaping provided by decreasing out the back triangle panel and by switching to successively smaller needles.

Gotta say - size 13 might be a little big. It kind of looks like a knotty mess right now. But then, lace does look bad until blocked and I did want a "frothy" look. Only time will tell I suppose.

Oh - in case you couldn't tell I decided to throw caution to the winds, knit with Kay's laceweight and dye it at the end. Procrastination at its finest.

Also it was pointed out to me by someone (Hi Nana!) that I write an awful lot of words. Such is my way I fear. Plus I'm afraid that if I don't write all this down in multiple places, I'll forget.

Monday, April 20, 2009

You Can't Take Photos in Old Navy

Last Wednesday Justin & I were having dinner with a friend and I was killing time between work and our dinner reservation. So I decided to go window shopping at Old Navy. Now I love the Old Navy Town Gowns and when I first saw the ads this year I thought - those are what I want for my bridesmaids! But I checked online and they didn't come in green. So I let that idea go...

But as I was browsing through Old Navy - there it was! It's not exactly like the Town Gowns, it has a tiered skirt and the bodice is a little different, but it's very close. So I decided to take a couple of pictures to show my prospective maids - just as inspiration. I took one pic with the flash, didn't like how it washed out the color and then took a couple without flash. As I was snapping my final pic, one of the store employees came by and mumbled "You can't take pictures."

Really??? I didn't argue b/c I make a point not to argue with people who are just doing their jobs (and probably being paid minimum wage), but really Old Navy!?!?! No pictures? I can see in high end bridal salons where designers are afraid of their designs being ripped off and made for cheap. But we're talking about a dress that retails for $29.50 and has been on sale this season for $15!


PS don't have the cord to hook the camera to the computer right now, so no pics posted. But I will put them up later! I'm sticking it to the man! And YOU are that man Old Navy. YOU.

PPS Here's the picture. Ha!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

To dye or not to dye?

No real progress made on the actual knitting front, so look at this incredibly cute baby hat.

Thank god it is the cutest thing I've ever knitted b/c I can't tell you what a pain in the ass it was to make. I think that's my fault far more than the designers and it was quick - that's the good thing about a hat for a newborn. Even if it's obnoxious it's over quickly. The pattern is Baby Tart from Knitty.

Like I said, no dress related knitting done, but I've done some more yarn investigations. Ordered two colorcards from Webs - one for their Valley Perle Cotton and one for their 8/2 Cotton-Linen blend. Both had shades of green that I liked either in the catalog or online, so we'll see how they look and feel when they arrive.

I also reached out to a couple of dyers about the possibility of dyeing Kay's laceweight. First to the folks at Red Fish Dyeworks ( - I really liked the greens in their A color wheel, but they only do silk yarn blended with wools and alpaca and I'm worried about the heat as the wedding seems to become later each year every time I turn around. Anyway - haven't heard back from them. So that's that.

Second I emailed Ray at Knitivity. Ray had commented on Kay's M-D post and given info about his Duralace - a wool/nylon blend. Again - warmth issues. But I went to his website and read about how well he matches colors - there was a page which unfortunately I can't find again where someone had sent him a picture of their tabby cat and he made a sock yarn colorway to match! As a kitty lover I was both intrigued and somewhat disturbed by my own intriguedness. (When I told Justin his reaction was much simpler. He was just disturbed.) So anyway, emailed Ray, who got back to me VERY quickly even though it was a Sunday - in fact, I think it was Easter - and said that unfortunately linen is out of his scope of dyeing at this point in time. But he made some helpful suggestions regarding contacting other dyers through Etsy or Ravelry and also gave me a couple of points to think on. Those being 1) do I want the yarn separated into hanks before dyeing and 2) would I want to knit the pieces first and then dye them.

The answers to those questions being 1) no and 2) Huh. Never thought of that.

Although the prospect of trying to dye the lace in its current cone form is downright terrifying to me, the idea of dyeing the finished project seems somehow more manageable. Now that may be b/c it's also something that I could put off to very far down the line or it may be because I enjoy procrastination. Which are really both the same reason.
Of course the reason not to do this is kind of major - what if I dyed it a horrible color? All my hard work would be lost/ruined/destroyed and I would be left a quivering mess of a bride. In fact, if we really want to get crazy with the worst case scenarios, I would be doing the dyeing mere days before the big event, thereby dooming myself to appearing in a half done dress, an ill-fitting David's Bridal gown (no time for alterations!) or naked.

To which I say - well I'd dye one of the tiny sleeves first. Far in advance.

Anyhoo, that's about it. We're at T-3 days til the great wedding site visit of 2009. It would be fair to say that I wish I had some Valium. I can't even tell you what I'm nervous about, as I dearly love everyone who will be present and really like every place we're going to see. Just feeling highly nervous anyway.

Just b/c I cannot stop talking about it - here's a list of where we're going:

The Cloisters

Baltimore Museum of Industry
to see pics of an actual wedding there go to:

Chase Court

The Harbor Club at Pier 5

American Visionary Art Museum
actual wedding pics:

The Baltimore Museum of Industry is our favorite - it says something about a place that you can be watching old episodes of The Wire and say, "Oh look honey! Those men are discussing a drug deal right near where we might get married". I mean literally, on the pier where they have the outdoor weddings. Of course the episode was a few years old, so I think the museum was still in its construction stages. Hopefully there are no drug dealers there anymore. Or even actors, pretending to be drug dealers.

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed for me.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The big swatch is done!

More good ssk suggestions have come in and I realized that I'd probably be fiddling with getting the right leaning decrease down for awhile and that I might as well just finish that big swatch so I could see it blocked and see what I thought of the needle size.

So I finished it with a pretty tight bind off at the top - figuring that eventually I'll want it gathered in for the top of the dress and then gave it a light blocking (pic above).

Got up this morning, pulled the pins and took a look.

To put it simply - I like it.

Look at it being all drapey and train-y and stuff!

I'm even thinking the needles could go bigger. I had a random thought the other night as I was falling asleep - maybe I'd start at the bottom with REALLY big needles - maybe 13's - then go down to 10's about mid-way through and then down to 8's at the top. I think it could work. It would be very frothy looking at the bottom, which would be pretty cool.

Whatever random off the cuff decreasing I did throughout seemed to really work. Of course I don't remember any of it, having not bothered to write it down, assuming it would look like crap. So I'm left wondering - is it better when I'm not trying too hard or is it just that even if the decreases aren't the best, the crappiness isn't as obvious on the laceweight yarn as it is when I do the swatches in the sportweight?

Here's the final decrease - where I decreased one repeat from the left and the right. I added some lovely arrows to point to the place in the middle where the pattern was eliminated altogether. Just threw that together last night while watching TV and drinking a beer. I mean, is is perfect? Probably not. Is it something that would look fine amidst a sea of lace? Yeah. Totally.

And the right leaning decreases which have given me such stress in the little swatches? They look fine.

So we shall see. I'm still going to try and come up with a nice, consistent chart for those decreases, but I'm not going to keep stressing over how pretty it looks. In the end, I think it will be just fine.

So my debate right now is train or no train? I really would like a very short train - no more than a foot or two. I feel reasonably confident about my ability to create a bustle, but I realized that I'd need to attach the knitted lace to the underskirt at the bustle points for it to work effectively. Not sure if I want to do this. I had thought that the underskirt would be part of the train as well... maybe the train could just be the lace? Especially if it ends up super frothy, that might be okay? I don't know... thoughts?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Looking at yarn

I think the comments have pretty much stopped coming in over on Mason-Dixon Knitting, so I took them all and made one big list that I've been working my way through slowly but surely.

Things are still a little up in the air with respect to the date, so I won't make a final decision just yet. While I could conceivably feel good about a 100% merino or cashmere for an early April wedding (especially if it's anything like this April - sheesh!) I don't think it would be quite as nice for a mid-May wedding. The great wedding site trip is next weekend, so it's just a little while longer to wait and then the yarn ordering can commence.

Back to the comments! So many wonderful suggestions, from incredibly specific ones with color suggestions and weblinks, to general fiber ideas. About 30 different suggestions in all.

And that's just for yarn! There were also suggestions about the design - one of my favorites came almost in the form of a haiku, I have copied and pasted it here b/c to do otherwise would not do it justice:

daisys you knit daisys
then put them together

i would make an apron
with lovely satin ties
down the back

the apron could be removed
and then passed on

Posted by elizabeth a airhart at April 1, 2009 09:19AM

I don't think I'll end up using this suggestion, but there's just something about this comment. I keep coming back to it. I feel like elizabeth was in such a lovely Zen type place when she wrote it, it makes me calm just to read it. It was interesting to me how many people thought about the dress or the knitting being passed on - apparently I will be crafting an heirloom! No pressure there... but really, how many people wear a dress again? Particularly their mother's dress? Someone else had commented that she would never wear her mom's hippie dress, but her grandmother's Coco Chanel like 50's dress would have been perfect. It's funny, my grandmother's dress was definitely more like today's styles - big full skirt, fitted bodice, although not strapless as everything is these days. In some ways my design is more like my mother's - both of us will have empire waisted dresses and neither of us went strapless, but Mom's dress was high necked and long sleeved! She got married in January, but still... sleeves of some kind I will have, but definitely not the high neck. Anyway, the comments got me thinking about legacy, family, heirlooms, changing things between generations. I apologize now to my possible future dress wearing children! I will not be taking your theoretical taste into consideration. Hope you like green, otherwise you're screwed. But I digress...

On the design related front, I had a comment too from my friend Nutella about new & improved ssk's which I have to try for the next version of the right leaning swatch. I hate my ssk's currently. I always hate my ssk's, so it's not like that's anything new, but it's frustrating. I also have some ideas for improved decreasing which will better incorporate the natural decreases in the pattern - instead of starting the decreasing at row 1, I'm going to try starting in later in the pattern where the stitch count decreases already and the left side of the pattern comes to a natural conclusion. Hopefully the combination of these two things will lead to greater success.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Decreasing is hard

Apparently wine is very useful when trying to decrease b/c I had such trouble with these swatches. Made them both in KnitPicks Shine Sport b/c the heavier yarn made it easier to watch the stitches as I was knitting as opposed to waiting til after blocking to see that they looked like crap.

Wednesday night was the left leaning swatch, all knit 2 togethers and knit 3 togethers for the most part. I unraveled this thing about six times, but finally ended up with something I was very happy with. If you look at the pic of both swatches you can see how the decreases work with the natural swoop of the pattern and it looks quite pretty.

Thursday night was the right leaning swatch, all slip slip knits and passing slipped stitches over. This I'm less than thrilled with. I'm on the right track, but obviously didn't get enough stitches decreased in time (see how much wider it is at the top than the other swatch?) But I'd hit the wall at the end of the night and opted to stop rather than get all cranky. In the end though I think this side will never be as pretty as the other, it just doesn't integrate with the lace's pattern as well as the other decreases do. I'm going to get this better, but I'm not going to sweat it. Quite frankly, no one should be looking so closely at my butt that they notice and are bothered by this. Can you tell I'm still a little annoyed about this swatch? Ah well...

Sorry this pic is a little dark - there's exactly one spot in our apartment that gets nice natural light in the morning and as anyone in NYC can tell you, it's raining today. Not too much natural light to go around.

So today I'm charting out what I did and then I'm going to knit this swatch again. Then the decreasing will all be planned and it'll be all about the yarn selections. And finding a good pattern. Oh and actually deciding where and when were getting married. That might be nice too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Bigger Swatch

So look at the new swatch. Isn't it pretty? And large!?!?!

Look how tiny it was at the beginning of yesterday! It grew! A lot! Who thought I'd get so excited about an unblocked lace swatch?!?!

Since the verdict was definitely towards sizing up the needles, I threw caution to the minds and whipped out a pair of 8's. The point of this swatch was to see the lace on the bigger needles and to try decreasing the pattern.

Last night was a mini-knit night with Jenny, Tegan and wine in my living room. I had a very basic idea of how I was going to do the decreasing - just knit 2 together on the right and slip slip knit on the left for every right side row. This sort of worked. For one thing, it was more complicated than I'd thought it would be and I probably should have sat with the chart and planned it out rather than winging it. For another, winging it while chatting with the girls, watching a movie (Twilight - eh) and working my way through a bottle of wine was perhaps not the most efficient or wise way to go about it. Whatever, it was fun and that is part of the idea behind this whole thing - that I might enjoy myself and maybe even learn something! Plus, what is the likelihood of me knitting the whole thing without a single glass of wine (or vodka)? Very small.

But still - it more or less worked! The repeats got smaller (duh) and since the pattern is a square, 16 stitches x 16 rows, knitting through the chart one time fully decreases out one repeat of the pattern. Basically I cast on five repeats, worked through the chart once, then marked off the repeats on each end. I decreased at the beginning of the repeat to the left of the first marker and at the end of the decrease to the right of the second marker. So if the repeats were numbered 1,2,3,4,5 I was decreasing on 2 & 4. By the time I worked through the chart once I had repeats 1,3 & 5 remaining. Tonight I'm going to work through again and eliminate repeat 3, currently neatly bracketed by my stitch markers.

This is how I plan to create a train. Or what passes for a train and what may just be some fullness in the back. Nutella Nutterson said in the comments for my first post that the dress seems very Regency. And although I wasn't thinking Regency when I had the idea, it is a Regency kind of look. In fact when I was trolling the Internet looking for patterns for the fabric portion of the dress, I found Sensibility Patterns. Some very nice patterns, from which I lifted the idea of having back fullness. But I still kind of want a train. I'm trying to think that if I cast on and then start decreasing, will that automatically make a train since the part between the markers will be longer? I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

So to go back to last night, poor Justin came home to fine three women, two open bottles of wine and Twilight playing on his 50" TV. He took one look at Robert Pattinson's red lips and pale face and said "Oh god, I know what movie this is." At which point we all giggled hysterically, knowing that due to some Amazon website confusion, Amazon thought that HE was the one who had ordered a 24 hour download of Twilight. You know that link at the top of Amazon where it says "Hi Justin! If you're not Justin, click here..." I didn't click there. Someone's going to be getting some interesting Amazon recommendations off of this one. Trying to distract Justin from the vampires I said,
Me: Oh hon, we ordered pizza.
Justin:I know.
Me: How? (General surprise from all the ladies)
Justin: I got an email from Domino's about my order. (Pause) It came right after the email from Amazon congratulating me on my order for the online version of Twilight.

I really should watch the defaults on our browser.

When the girls left he turned to me and said "that was a lot of estrogen"

Of course then we watched The Room on Cartoon Network. Which has absolutely nothing to do with the dress, but it was so bizarre that I felt I must mention it. It's the worst movie I've ever seen. And I've seen Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Oh and to go back to the dress, someone asked if I was open to other lace patterns. I am.

Finally, I enlisted a lovely assistant to help me showcase the swatch. Enjoy!