Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eh crap.

Remember how I'd been afraid I had too few stitches? Well, went back to the dress two nights ago, did a quick stitch count and although one side was fine, the other side had somehow grown by 8 stitches.

EIGHT. That is not a small number. That's not, oh crap, where did this stitch come from, oh well I'll just do a k3tog instead of a k2tog. That's OH CRAP, this side has grown by the length of half of the lace pattern. I found the problem and it started about four-five rows back. Which was probably about the time that I decided I was SOOO close to the end of the lace pattern that I should push through and finish the last few rows before I stopped for the night.

So yeah, that was a mistake. Apparently I should not push myself towards arbitrary goals. That way errors lie.

Anyway, the only thing to do was to drop each stitch down individually to the error point and then pick it up again. (This is me trying to show how many rows I had to drop. It was kind of hard to photograph- I really needed one hand to hold each needle and a third hand for the camera.)
Dropping the stitches led to long, long trailing bits of yarn.

And in the end, to this. Which, amazingly, I was able to rewrap onto the cone without it knotting or doing anything else horrible.

There were a couple of bad moments during the frogging process - one of the worst at the very end where I accidentally dropped down too far and had the last 10 stitches down two rows further than everything else. Fortunately I was able to take that loop of yarn and knit the two rows back again. I'm not really sure how I pulled that off, but it worked, so I'm not thinking too hard about. In the middle of it all I'd dropped one extra row down, so the free end of the yarn was in the middle of my work, instead of at the end of the row where it should be, but that wasn't that big a deal, I just had to slip a lot of stitches til I got to that point and then continue knitting.

While all of this was going on, I watched what was seriously the most horrible book to movie adaptation I've ever seen - The Other Boleyn Girl. Not the recent Hollywood movie with Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman (don't get me wrong, that was pretty bad too). No, this was a BBC version done years earlier. I had watched about 15 minutes and was going to turn it off, but then I found the mistake and couldn't be bothered to do anything as complicated as picking up the remote and hitting "stop".

In the end, I managed to fix the mistake and then reknit everything I'd had to unknit. The next night I did one more rep of the lace chart.

Which brings us here:

I'm experimenting with using Justin's Rock Band drums as a new photo platform. Obviously the dress has outgrown the speak top and there's only one corner of the apartment that gets natural light in the morning. Soon I'm going to have to start draping it over the fish tank.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In which the short rows become longer...

Two nights ago I finally got my hands back on the dress and spent about great 3 hours working on it. Over the weekend I'd started to get really paranoid - just before I last put it down I felt like things were going along too quickly. I had become convinced that I'd done something VERY wrong and had now churned through more than half the short rows and lost some of the stitches along the way (I figured I'd missed some yarnovers in there or something.) So when I picked up the needles last night, it was with some trepidation. I won't lie, I'd already started mentally composing the blog entry where I commented yet again on the sin of pride, was going to chastise myself about not being careful enough, etc.

So the first thing I did was a quick stitch count on both sides of my various train stitch markers.

They were right.

They were all right and both the left and right side stitch counts were in agreement with each other - I hadn't leaped ahead on one side or anything.

I was amazed.

So I started short rowing again. Justin and I watched 3 episodes of Season 4 of The Wire and I made a significant dent in the amount of short rows left to do. I started to get a little bummed about how this was taking, then I realized, duh, the short rows are getting longer. Ah math! You thwart me yet again!

So here's the progress - I think the dress is starting to get a little too big for my usual photo spot!
(Everything above the purple line is the short row section - it's getting pretty big!)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Didn't happen.

Some work stuff bled over into the evening (good work stuff, fortunately!), had to do laundry and go to the grocery store. By the time it was all done it was close to 10pm and I was too tired to pick up the needles. That's when mistakes happen. So, I exercised some surprising self control.

Of course now I had dress withdrawal, b/c I didn't work on it last night and won't be able to tonight or tomorrow b/c of the show. Maybe there'll be some time on Saturday afternoon, but my future mother in law will be in town and we're probably going out to lunch. Good relations with the future in laws must take precedence over the dress.

It's just so pretty. I miss it. The slight disappointment I felt after finishing the border is gone. I want to work on this thing all the time. ALL THE TIME.

Have been receiving some good advice from Calista on Ravelry regarding places to scout out fabrics in NYC. If it ever stops raining I'm going to start looking!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Short Rows Galore!

So last night started out kind of crappy and ended up quite nicely.

I looked at my original notes and saw that the plan was to work back and forth across the middle 3 repeats of the train. So I decided to just do that. I'll have to take the whole thing off the needles and steam block it again to make sure it's a nice shape, but I would have had to do that anyway. If I have to redo, well at least the short rows are going pretty quickly.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The crappy start. The crappiness came when I started my nice short row set up row and realized almost immediately that there was a mistake in the border. Let me say that again a mistake in the BORDER. As in, BELOW THE LIFELINE. How did I miss this previous? Well, when I placed the lifeline I counted to make sure i had the right numbers of stitches. I did. Unfortunately I had one seriously misplaced yarnover.
Here's a picture of the mistake.
Can you see it? It's kind of off to the left near my thumb. Trust me, it was there and it was annoying. Fortunately the mistake was in the very first repeat of the pattern, so I pulled out the lifeline, went in, fixed the mistake and then put the lifeline back in. Then realized that I'd only partially fixed the mistake. I'd added a yarnover where one was lacking, but hadn't realized that there was now an extra yarnover where there should have been none. I pulled the lifeline out AGAIN, knitted across, fixed the extra yarnover issue, pulled back what I'd just knitted (it was easier for me to find the mistakes if I tried to knit the next row, rather than just slipping the stitches), put the lifeline back in a second time and took a very deep breath. And a very large drink. Started again and this time, it worked.

Round about this time Justin got home and asked what I wanted to do with the evening. I told him I had absolutely no idea as I'd just spent the last hour staring at the same six stitches. He wisely removed himself from the room until I'd put a few rows between me and the mistake.

But after that, and after I had some dinner, the short rows went like a dream. Much like when I'd done the swatch, things didn't exactly match up, sometimes I had a few more or less stitches added on one side or the other b/c of changes in the pattern, but it all worked out pretty well. I'd say I'm about halfway through the short row portion and if all goes, well I might get that done tonight. If not it'll be days till it gets done since Arsenic & Old Lace starts up again tomorrow night and this is NOT dark theater knitting.

So here's the whole thing as it is now:

Getting very large. If you look closely for the purple lifeline, you can see where the border ends and the short rows begin.

Here are a couple of closer shots:

I'm really pleased with the contrast between the border and the short rows. The pattern looks great in the smaller stitches (even unblocked) and I feel like the border section is already getting more shape and definition from the stitches above.

I was still so excited this morning that I did another row before I went to work this morning. In fact - that's another thing that's nice - I can do a row in less than half an hour! I'm trying to really savor that since soon I'll be back to the full length of all the stitches and just doing the gradual decreases for either side of the train.

Here's a very, very close up showing the current end of the short rows.
Oh I'm so pleased right now. This is another savor moment. Because as I was typing I remembered that way back when I was swatching, I never did come up with a left leaning decrease swatch that I liked.

Eh, winging it is working reasonably well so far. I'll just keep doing that. Plus, blogging is much interesting if I screw up now and then. Stressful, but more interested. Cause otherwise it's going to be some very boring posts coming up.

So yes, savoring the moment. Savor. Savor. Savor.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Back on the needles

That's where the dress is. Back on the needles. After all that math, I realized that I really wanted the train to be more of an oval than a circle and that I really couldn't be bothered to calculate the various aspects of ovals. So now I'm just trying to figure out exactly where to turn the short rows. I'm torn b/c starting working them across the middle 5 repeats seems a little too broad (there are 9 repeats in the train) and starting across the middle 3 seems too narrow.

It literally just occurred to me that I could turn midway through a repeat. Would be vaguely more complicated, but it is totally doable. So I guess I'll go do some more math after all.

Mom and Jenny have evaluated the border section and we've all decided that either some crocheting or a ribbon border will be needed to help keep those cast on stitches from catching on things. They're just so darn big. This will be pretty I think.

Mom and I did further experiments with the dress this weekend, holding various parts of it and various swatches up to different parts of my body. Really, we should have taken photos. I was wearing a kelly green baby doll top and it looked quite pretty showing through the ivory lace. So if dyeing goes poorly, there is a viable alternative.

I also addressed Mom's fears regarding drooping of the lace - my plan currently is to knit up through the Size 10 portion, which'll be about 2/3 of the skirt and then let it hang while I sew the fabric portion of the dress. Or at least the skirt part of the fabric portion.

Finally the skirt will be removable, so if it is catching on things horribly at the reception, I can just take it off. But I hope, with some good bustling, that this won't be an issue.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Um... wow

Border is on the life line.
I actually took it off the needles b/c I wanted to check my gauge and make sure it was actually true to the swatches.

It is. It's large.

(Please ignore the fact that there is a door in the blounge. In fact, ignore the word blounge as well.)

Here it is in a kind of circle on its nice purple lifeline.

I lightly steam blocked the whole thing and I'm a little bit afraid of it. This is a picture of it growing as I block.

It's very, very big.
To clarify, it's exactly the size that I planned, because this section has to border the whole sweep of the train - which I planned to be 60". And it is. The whole thing measured at about 13 and 2/3 feet - I was aiming for 13 feet. So I was aiming for large. I just wasn't fully prepared to be smacked in the face by the largeness of it. I might in fact be on the way to a tiny little freak out, so I'll concentrate on the details.

I'm okay with the fact that it's 13 and 2/3 feet, which is 2/3 of a foot larger than I'd planned. The lace looks better blocked taller, but I didn't realize that until about a third of the way through - I think I could make that extra 8" or so go away if I had to. And even though gauge is very important, yadda yadda yadda, it's a full skirt. That splits up the front. And extra 2/3 of a foot isn't going to kill anyone.

So now I'm left with figuring out exactly how to do the short rows to make the train curve as I want it to. I actually did geometry this evening for the first time in more than 15 or so years. I'm now going to publish that geometry on the Internet and hopefully not embarrass myself or Sr. Mary Dee, the nun who taught me geometry (and calculus - but the least said of that the better). The idea that Sr. Mary Dee might see my blog and recognize incorrectly done geometry is actually scarier to me than the idea of the ridicule of the general public. After all, I have a theater degree. No one expects great things from me mathematically. Except for Sr. Mary Dee. And she was one scary nun. Once she scared the hiccups right out of me. I'm not kidding - it can be done.

Anyway, the 60" sweep of the train would be half the circumference of the circle, if I was making a circle. Circumference = pi * diameter. Diameter is what I'm looking for, so I'll know the width I want the train to be when I finish the short rows. 60 * 2 = 120 or the full circumference of my imaginary train circle. Divide both sides by pi and I get a diameter of 38.2". Divide that in half to get the radius of this imaginary circle, which is the height of the short row section and I get 14.1. Of course I never bothered to write down the gauge of my size 10/short row swatch b/c I was only really concerned with the gauge of the size 13 swatch (to get the bottom measurement of the skirt) and the size 8 swatch (to get the top measurement of the skirt). I have to go dig out my swatch from my wedding keepsake box and measure. There are all my little swatches. Don't they look cute?Fortunately the height is between 7-8" for one repeat, depending on where I measure it (the difference is due to the scalloped edge). So I can work the lace chart two full times and will get about 14.1 inches, or the desired height of the internal section of my train. And that means I'll have a 2-3' train with the border, which is a nice length I think. The width of one repeat is about 5-6" (again, difference is caused by the scalloped edge), which is a little more of a problem, since the train section has the pattern repeated 9 times and that would give me 45-54", not 38". I'm not really sure how to deal with that.

And that's really all the math I can handle. I know that I can figure out a way around that 7-16" difference. I know that I can now calculate exactly where to turn my first short row. I feel that that knowledge is about 15-20 minutes of hard thought away from me. Okay, maybe closer to 20-30 minutes of hard thought.

I also feel that I've drunk half a vodka and soda and I've already worked equations that involve pi for god's sake.

I bought a nice bridal magazine yesterday. I think I'm going to go read that for awhile.

Sometimes, you have to quit when you're ahead.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Border Done!

Finished on Friday night.

Whew! I was surprised at how bittersweet it was. I mean, I was really, really glad to have it done and move on to something a little more complicated, but I also had the thought - this is done. I am only making 1 wedding dress and this is the only border it will have (I've decided to call the Size 13 section the border. Sounds much nicer than Size 13 section & easier for non-knitters to understand). This dress is a finite project and part of it is done.

Of course, if something goes horribly wrong down the line and I end up having to start over, I'm going to look back at this entry and laugh my ass off. With a large alcoholic drink in my hand. Ditto when it's two weeks before the wedding and I've feverishly sewing - I will look back at this and laugh and laugh and laugh. (Don't worry Mom, the dress will be done long before 2 weeks out.)

I started to put in the lifeline, but decided to wait and do one row on the Size 10 needles first (mental note - think of catchy name for Size 10 section). The lace pattern ends on a right side row and the stitches on the wrong side row are a real pain in the butt. B/c the yarn is so fine and the needles are so big, the yarn overs tend to travel and slip around on the needles - they basically move ahead of the stitches next to them and it can get confusing. I started the lifeline and then was really concerned that I was going to screw up the stitch order and make a big mess in the process. So - 1 row of Size 10, then life line.

I also started another knitting project - a very basic top down raglan shaped shell with cap sleeves.
The last two weeks have been stressful - Justin & I are both working really hard on a new show that opens on Thursday night and spending long hours out of the apartment. Frequently I have been coming back brain dead, but too keyed up to sleep and really wanted to do some nice soothing knitting. Each time I reached for the dress I forced myself to pull my hand back - knowing that in my brain dead state I was likely to make a horrible mistake, or make a very tiny mistake which would seem horrible or make a mistake and not even notice it until two months from now, when I'd see a glaring error in a totally unfixable location. I think this was very wise on my part.

But I was still left without soothing knitting and I realized that I really, really need soothing knitting in my life. I'm not a knitter who usually has 10 projects on the needles. I tend to work on one thing til it's done, occasionally two. So this is a little unusual for me. But I cast on for this little top last night - using leftovers from the Printed Silk Cardigan I made for Mom last summer. Due to a shockingly poor yardage calculation on my part I had a LOT of KnitPicks Shine Sport (my fave yarn) in turquoise. I also have some purple and pink from the baby hats of death. So that'll be a new top. I was going to use the yarn to teach myself crocheting, but I felt that learning did not really fall under the soothing, mindless vibe I was going for. I knitted on the subway this morning, standing up, during rush hour. Mindless. Soothing. Good.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sooo close!

To finishing the size 13 section of the dress. In Justin's words "It actually looks like something now, not just like a ball of string." I have a delusional hope that I'll finish the last 6-8 rows of the pattern tonight, but our new show is opening soon and I'm crazy busy wearing my off off Broadway producer hat, so there's not much time over the next couple of weeks. If not tonight, hopefully on Thursday.

Here's a pic of the dress, nestled in its home - a Junior's bag.

Justin was right - it's actually starting to look like something. That's why I took the bag pic - I like looking in and actually seeing it fill the bag. As opposed to early on, when I accidentally grabbed that mess of yarn that is my monument to pride (ie. my first two attempts to cast on) and had a tiny heart attack because I thought I'd pulled the dress of the needles. I can't make that mistake anymore. Thank god.