Monday, May 25, 2009

Another trip to Maryland

Big developments on the dress, but on the fabric rather than the knitting front. Spent 5 days in Maryland last week and as I previously discussed, the dress doesn't travel. Just seemed like a very bad idea to tempt fate that way. So I bid farewell for a little while and decided to take the time in Maryland to concentrate on the fabric end of things.

Mom & I took a trip to Joann's to scout out patterns and fabric. I love Joann's. My first job was at Joann's and I worked there all throughout high school and for the first summer of college. Fabric for every formal dress I wore came from Joann's and even now I frequently order from them online. So of course, Joann's was where we headed. Main goal was to go through the pattern books and hopefully find a pattern since they're currently displaying the spring/summer looks. Mom & I sat down at the pattern book table and started flipping. At the end of the day I had 4 patterns that I thought were real contenders. One was out of stock, so that was that. And one Burda 7689 I decided was basically represented in elements of the other two, so it was out.

So here are the two finalists - New Look 6902 and McCalls 5806. Now the McCalls is a lot easier to pictures as a wedding dress b/c it IS a wedding dress pattern. And I do really like it as styled on the pictured model, but I'm not positive that I want all that shirring on the bodice - as someone who's rather petite in the bust, I could use the fullness, but I'm concerned it will be a little too busy. The pattern has an option for a non-gathered bodice, but that has seams down the front for shaping and I really wanted darts, not seams. So we have pattern 2 - New Look 6902. Which has a nice flat bodice, like I like and a slightly less full skirt. I think the flat bodice is going to end up winning out and the fuller skirt, although I might redistribute the fullness a little so the back has more fullness than the front. Also neither of these has a train, something which I gave absolutely no thought to until this very minute, so that's an issue which will need to be dealt with. The knitted train definitely needs some fabric under it so that it won't catch on the ground.

I browsed through Special Occasion fabrics and wasn't really wowed, when Mom drew my attention to the swatches of special order fabrics. They had a silk twill that I really liked and we color tested white & ivory with my skin - no surprise, I looked better in ivory. It's not too yellow of an ivory, which is nice. Then Mom found a green lacey, embroidered fabric in just the right shade of green. We held the two together and she said "It's going to be so beautiful". I honestly thought she was being sarcastic for a moment, then realized that she was actually choked up! At which point I got pretty choked up myself and we ended up hugging in the middle of Joann's and totally having a "My baby's getting married!" type of moment. Mom said afterwards that she'd heard other women say that it was a very special moment when they first saw their daughter in her wedding dress. I said that it's a good thing she's a seamstress too, b/c the moment that most normal mothers and daughters would be having in a bridal salon, we were having under the flourescents at Joann's, getting teary eyed over two 12x12 swatches of fabric!

Besides being touched I also felt really relieved b/c until I saw the swatches together, I was a little nervous that the ivory/green color combo wasn't going to work. I breathed a hefty sigh of relief, I'll tell you that.

Neither of us had brought a camera, so we came back to the store the next day to photograph me with the swatches.
PS on the knitting front - I've almost finished the second repetition of the chart on the Size 13's. One more repetition, then lifeline, needle change and short rows!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Back after a break

Just came back from 5 days in Maryland, but found some awesome fabric for the non-knitted portion of the dress and took some more great pics of the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Nice long blog (but sadly not terribly knitty) blog post should be coming soon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Eek! Justin saw my wedding dress!

Yup, it happened. He came home from rehearsal and I had not yet finished my nightly 4 rows.

Fortunately, I don't think it was enough for him to be able to visualize the finished product.

At this point, we've decided that it works best as a hat.

Pretty classy, right?

PS No Star Trek: Next Generation last night and Star Trek:Entreprise does not work nearly as well. I ended up watching 18 Kids & Counting on TLC about the Duggar family who has (you guessed it) 18 kids. Their friends who have 17 kids came to visit. It was beyond disturbing, even more so than when I tried to watch Bridezillas over the weekend.

Scratch that - Bridezillas was actually WAAAY more disturbing. There was a woman who interrupted her mani/pedi to go get a pork chop. I'm not making that up.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

4 More Rows

No pics, but knitted 4 more rows last night. It takes about an hour to do two rows. It's a 16 row pattern. I'm planning to work it 3 times before I put in my lifeline and start the short rows and most likely change needles. At this rate it will take me 8 more days to finish the Size 13 border. Of course I won't be working on it every night - going out of town this weekend and not planning to take the "dress" with me. That seems like a recipe for disaster.

Oh and it seems like Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes provide the perfect amount of entertainment without being distracting. Thank god SciFi has them on heavy rotation... can't imagine why that is.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Successes and Failures

On Saturday night, I was sitting on my bed with my nicely cast on stitches, purling away and listening to the sounds of a rehearsal for our theater company's production of Arsenic & Old Lace going on in my living room. I turned and actually started working the first lace row of the pattern (it starts on a wrong side row) and actually had the thought "Wow, I had no trouble casting on for this!"




I would like to say, in my defense, that I only THOUGHT this. I did not say it out loud to anyone, not even to myself or one of the cats (Nyssa was watching the rehearsal, Chiana was hiding from it). How the knitting gods heard this blasphemy I do not know, but they sure as hell did.

Within five minutes I hit one of my many markers and realized that I was a stitch short. No problem, I have these markers every 3-4 repeats so I never go too far without realizing I've made a mistake. So I raveled back and found a weird spot in my knitting. I could not initially define what this weird spot was, only that it was weird and it somehow caused a stitch to be lost. I looked at it for a very long time and did a number of interesting experiments with dropping loops, picking them up and turning the knitting in various ways. None of them worked. I finally came to the conclusion that in my purling of the first row, the knitting had gotten twisted on the needles and I had not noticed and just purled right on through. So the knitting was now twisted. A tiny twist, which would probably not be noticeable. But it was there. I stared at it awhile more, then put it away for the night.

The next day I sat on the sofa looking at the knitting and decided that I could not start out knowing that their was a mistake so near the beginning of the dress. I'll allow for the possibility that there'll be mistakes down the line which will get ignored or worked in, but now? When I hadn't even finished 3 rows. Couldn't do it. Frogged the whole thing. Cast on again. Purled VERY carefully this time with no twists. Started working the first lace row. Got to the final section and realized that I was short two stitches. Figured it must be a mistake since I'd counted THREE times to make sure there were enough stitches. Asked my mom to be quiet while I counted the stitches again. Yes, I was talking on the phone while I was knitting. Listened, with perhaps less than good grace to my mother's suggestion that doing something else while I was knitting the dress was perhaps not the best idea in the world. Pointed out, rather testily I admit, that I'd made the mistake BEFORE we got on the phone, hence it was not the phone which was the problem. Gave up again. Finished call with my mom, trying to be a bit more polite to her. After all, it was Mother's Day.

Once we'd hung up, I cut off the twice knitted beginnings of the dress. Cast on for a third time, trying to achieve a quiet, Zen-like state. Counted each section VERY carefully 4 times. Purled the first row, being very, very careful not to twist. Began knitting the first row. Made it about 2/3's of the way through when a very mischievous part of my mind tried to point out how well things were going. That part was quickly shouted down by the rest of my mind reminding it that Pride goeth before a fall and also that the second mistake was in the LAST section of the row, so it wouldn't do well to count our chickens before they were hatched, etc. Made it to the last section and knitted the last 18 stitches literally holding my breath.


I purled another row just to be safe and then put it down. Doesn't pay to temp fate.

So at the end of the weekend I'm left with this:

And, rather sadly, with this:

Which I'm keeping as a monument to pride.

Friday, May 8, 2009

371 Stitches

I think we're going to need a bigger boat.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Blocking Difficulties

So the first blocking of the Short Row Swatch was no good. I pulled the top totally straight and distorted the bottom so the stitches were all stretched and it didn't have the nice scalloped edge that this lace pattern makes.

I looked at it. I left it on the towel all pinned up for several days, looking at its wrongness and willing it to fix itself. Finally I gave up and re-wet it and re-blocked it. This finished product is much prettier, but it's left me with some lingering doubts regarding the blocking of the finished project. This is going to be baaaaad to block.

I was already thinking it was going to be bad and being relieved that I have a guest bed that I can block it on and not need to rush or worry about the cats sleeping on it or clawing it up while it's drying. And I am still glad about those things (and lucky too - we've signed the 2 year lease renewal, so no worries on that front till 2011 - not til after our first anniversary in fact. Wow. That was weird to think about.) But anyway, I think I'm going to need to do some serious blocking related research and maybe invest in some blocking wires. Anyone have thoughts on blocking wires?

But overall, I've swatched all I can think to swatch. The needles are here. The yarn is here. I think it's time to start.

Tomorrow is our 8 year dating anniversary. It'd be very poignant and lovely to cast on then, but I have to go to work, go to a theater meeting, see a show and probably go for drinks afterward. Yes, I do HAVE to go for drinks afterward. It's part of the supportive seeing a friend in a show experience. Anyway, tomorrow is not an ideal day to cast on. Waiting til next Friday, which is exactly one year til the wedding, would also be poignant, but I doubt I can be that patient. Also I'll be sitting on a train bound for Maryland that night.

So I think I'll cast on tonight.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Size 10 Short Row Swatch

All right! Happily was able to bang this out this weekend. Short rows, thank god, pretty much work the way I thought they did. Plus, I didn't bother with wrapping stitches (or with working in the wraps), just left the holes, figuring that they'd blend in with the pattern. Or make their own pattern. Something to that effect.

I ended up finishing one whole repeat of the chart and didn't have enough stitches left on either side to do another and keep adding an extra stitch each row. So I just started going every other row and every third row and I don't think it was too noticeable. We'll know for sure once I block the thing.

The only possible hitch is that the short row area seems to be pulling the border rows a bit tight, they're ruffling up a little at this point. Might work out with blocking or might just be an issue with this swatch. I was only working the short rows over 3 repeats of the chart and for the actual dress I'll be working it over something like 9 repeats of the pattern and working it on Size 13 needles. So I'm not going to waste time worrying over that. Hopefully I just didn't jinx myself there, otherwise I'm going to be going back to this email in a month or to and saying "I told you so!" to myself. I love to say I told you so, and it only loses a little bit of its charm when it's self directed.

All in all I'm amazed at how much planning I've done on this. I've knitted 4 swatches! And that's only counting the linen swatches. I knitted a whole bunch of other ones and there were a few that were frogged and redone so many times that even though only 1 swatch was produced, something like 4 swatches were knitted. If the saying is "Measure twice, cut once" I've always been more of a "Measure once, cut once" kind of a girl. Or, truth be told, a "Vaguely estimate the measurement and then say screw it and cut it anyway" kind of a girl. I won't lie - this has lead to a dress making related problem or two or five and to some of the incidents of crying and cat throwing that I eluded to in earlier entries.

So why was this time different? Well, part of it was that I kept repeating to myself over and over "It's your wedding dress stupid". That had something of an effect. But honestly it probably had more to do with making up my mind about the yarn and then not having the needles. If I'd had exactly what I wanted on February 11th I probably would have cast on that day. This whole taking my time thing has been good. Even though my basic concept has been the same pretty much from Day 1, I've given a lot of thought to the design and have made some tweaks. I've opened myself to the possibility of dyeing the finished product, although this idea scares the crap out of my mother. I promised her that I'd have the dress done more than a month before the wedding. She suggested that I try to have it done perhaps a little sooner than that. I'll certainly do my best. Fortunately when I told her my needle sizes, I think she was relieved. She was afraid I was knitting the whole thing on 1's! My eyes and my hands hurt just thinking about it...

Later: Would have posted this last night but the internet at home hated photos. Didn't have time before work this morning to check out the blocked swatch, so that's a little something to look forward to when I get home!