February 22, 2015

Journal Entry 1: The Continuing Story of ... The Dress

My engaged daughter, Jo, and I have settled on a dress pattern. It wasn't very hard, since she is most absolutely not a "foofy" girl. We both knew how the dress should really look, and the fluffier, more cupcakey dresses were easy to rule out. Barring designing one for her myself (*gasp! choke!* and *anxiety beyond belief!*), we knew that a leaner profile with simple and few details that reflect her easy-going little self was a must. It had to be elegant, of course, since it is a wedding dress, and transportable in the event that she and her hubby-to-be decide to get married abroad (which is on the table under "thinking about it," with more on that possibly to come). Jo is also on the small and shorter side, so we can't have a dress that eats her in any way; length, busyness all had to be in proportion.

There were actually very few dresses that might fit this bill. At least, dresses that were strictly "wedding dresses." In a stroke of luck, the very dress we both were thinking of jumped out pretty early on in the search process. In fact, I found it first without Jo's presence. But I "knew." I emailed her the picture, which was returned with a squealing phone call only a few hours later. "Mom! I have already shown a picture of the dress to 4 people! The people in Trader Joe's think I'm weird!!"

That was it.

I ordered the book the dress pattern was in. It is the Wedding Ensemble by Michele Rose Orne in her book, "Inspired to Knit."

I love that it really appears to break down into manageable parts: a tee with a button-up back and a long skirt, both with lace trim, wide and narrow. All these things are pretty simple in their parts, and both top and skirt can be shortened if need-be.

What I didn't love after I received the book in the mail from Amazon and looked into the pattern further, is that it calls for 4 types of cotton yarn (in varying percentages of cotton) in 3 weights: #1 superfine. #3DK/ light worsted, and #4 Medium/worsted. ( I am using the US Craft Yarn Council system for these weights/numbers/names. For reference, you can find it here.)

To make things a tiny bit more complicated, two of the yarns are discontinued, and the "light/DK" yarn the pattern calls for is actually called "sport" and "dk" by different sources--eg. Ravelry vs yarn sellers. If it were "sport," this would actually be classified as a #2 weight by the CYC, and not a #3.

Truly, all that matters in the end is is THE GAUGE, right? I can figure this all out. So I looked closely at the gauge and needles. Oops. I mean gaugeS and needleS. Plural. Really plural.

Maniacal laughter began playing in my head.

There are 5 sizes of needles called for in the entire pattern, ranging from straight ones to 32 inch circulars. These are used to get the various gauges for each piece of the pattern. For example, the lace (of course) has a differing gauge from the stockinette, and the heavier yarns of course have a generally bigger gauge than the smaller ones.

After I shook off the catatonic state that had frozen my face, I thought two things:

1. This deceptively simple looking pattern is the devil. Where's Jon Lovitz?
2. I will not let this pattern defeat me. (Especially if it is the devil. This is frickin' Lent, devil. You can't win during Lent.)

My conclusion is this: press on...as you probably just saw, with the "frickin' Lent" statement and all. And not just because I am red-headed, freckly Scottish-French-American stubborn, but also because I am curious.

Approaching this as a sewer, I realize (or perhaps, more accurately, I believe...) that the different gauges are to make the different trims to fit and lay properly. If it were fabrics for cutting and machine-made trims we were talking about, you could just cut them all to size. But when you are knitting every stitch of your own fabric, well, so be it.

If you, too, decide that you simply MUST make this pattern, I am going to try to help all of us. Let us unwind some of the confusion.

Here are my first findings, all on the yarns. I hope it helps--I noticed that only one person on Ravelry has actually completed and photographed this pattern.

THE PATTERN CALLS FOR/my notes in bold italics:

  • (MC) Berroco Cotton Twist. CYC weight: #4 worsted. Discontinued. I got gauge using Cascade Pima Cotton on US size 6 bamboo needles, if that helps anyone.
  • (A) DMC Baroque Crochet Cotton size 10. No knitting "weight" available, but it can be ascertained from the gauge and use that it is the one the designer is calling "#1 fingering."I am ordering this very item. No need to try to replace it with knitting yarn. Besides, white is a bit tricky to find sometimes.
  • (B) Rowan Cotton Glace. Pattern uses the CYC weight, "#3 Light," but some other sources vary, calling it "#2, sport." I purchased a skein of Tahki Yarns' Cotton Classic Elite, but it may prove a bit too big for the lace trim on the top. I tried a US 6 and it is huge. Going down to a US4. Otherwise, I will order the glace. Why didn't I do that in the first place? I am getting old.
  • (C) Berroco Touche. CYC weight: #4 worsted. Discontinued. I may use the Cascade if it works in the appropriate spot once I get there. Will check that gauge in time.

Right after I order a skein of Cotton Glace, I will continue on with my gauge checking. It is tough to use cotton at 100% (hmmmm....I think that was the reason I didn't order the Glace in the first place, now that I mention it....) but I will persevere. 

A few things that are going a bit more smoothly include the following:

  • I measured my daughter seven ways till Sunday, including measurements for her shorter waist so I can alter the number of darts/dart spacing in the midsection of the top.
  • My daughter is a bit busty, so I recorded Knitting Daily where there was recently a very good segment on bust darts. Here is one of their blog posts on the math. (I can't find the episode!!) 
  • My daughter is undaunted by my news of the initial confusion with the pattern/yarn, etc. She just says, "Mom, get it done when you can. You know how easy going I am!"

Let's hope we don't have to test that. 

Still cozy after all the crazy,

Janelle, the rabid, mad-knitting fool. 

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