02 April 2009

I've been meaning to tell you...

... that after much thought I decided NOT to dye the dress red. It is actually rather good as it is. Having worked on it for some 12 weeks - the natural off white grew on me.

The other thing I wanted to announce is that the dress is actually FINISHED!


Not quite ready for the pics though.

Watch this space.

25 March 2009

Out of the blue comes...


A birthday card for my friend...

09 March 2009

The Joy Of... Completing Something

(Even if it is not a gigantic day dress) is ecstatic, exultant and as-good-as-the-best-Swiss-chocolate!

AND I will also have to 'eat' my own judgmental comment On Disgrace Of Having Too Many Unfinished Projects Under One's Roof!

Well, I was caught off guard zooming through the funnel neck on the dress. The next thing I knew was that it was my beloved's birthday the following day! Cool blooded, I examined my options and decided that the easiest and most reliable one would be to... no less than finish his unfinished Christmas present! I picked up the nearly done socks (O (3) chose the colourway - the yarn is Mirasol's Hacho, 100% hand-dyed merino wool). I "sprinted" to the finish. Et voilà!

Dress progress: nearly there.

25 February 2009

Ocean Of Cream

I'm afraid my determination means that for a while to come the posts' subject will continue to be the Day Dress... I am determined not to put this project down, especially because it is proving to be the case of 2 steps forward and 1 backwards. I want to complete it. I am sick of unfinished projects and I am on the mission to put some order in this household! Basta!

More to the point...

The raglan shaping seemed like a good idea at the time BUT it jeopardized the simplicity of the shape of upper body, so it had to go...

OK. Now to work...

About 3 or 4 days later...

The funny looking sts between rib and garter sections are the evidence of yet another afterthought. Luckily, in most cases it's never too late, as long as one is prepared to "suffer" a little bit of soft engineering...

In all its glory and fully BACK ON TRACK!

It was worth it!

All these setbacks make for a knitting odyssey of epic size. I will sure feel triumphant when it's done. Proper.

15 February 2009

Nipple Positioning - Better Get It Right The First Time!

My last post promised that the subject of this one will be breasts, and no less...
Faithful to my own promise I therefore invite you to join me on a somewhat painful, but ultimately triumphant, journey of getting the breast zone perfect for the (not quite yet) Red Day Dress.

As with all proper bespoke knitwear, there comes a point when a fitting is in order. And so I tried the dress on, only to realize that a crucial shaping designed to enhance the graceful female bust zone was slightly off :(

I immediately knew what, why, how and where went wrong, but the realization came to late. The picture below says it all: the positioning of nipples is off by about 5 sts; the markers indicate the correct positioning. This, obviously, will not do. This shaping's secret mission is to attract attention to one's breasts and it has to be PERFECT.

Having considered all my options:

  1. frog back all the way to the base of bust;
  2. surgically open the work just below the yoke and frog back to the base of bust, the advantage of which is that there would be less reconstructive work to do and the disadvantage of which would be grafting in a way that is completely invisibly joined - this could be passably accomplished but could not be done to perfection without MUCH fuss;
  3. frog only front section of work, meaning there would be no need to "fuse" grafted seam's threads.

Below you can see what the breast shaping does and what it looks like exactly:

Once option 3 was decided upon and carried out half-way the dress looked something like this:

One row into reconstruction:

Reconstruction under way and gathering speed, well, very s l o w speed - more of a rythm, really.

Unpicking unnerving pile of frogged custom plied spaghetti... This, by the way, is the proof that I have nerves of steel (however unconvincing my usual reaction to mess might be, characterized by complete absence of patience - actually, that might be because I use up all my patience in these difficult surgical operations performed on knitted fabric).

About 5 hours later...

And even now there is more touching up to do, as getting the gauge right is somewhat tricky in reconstruction work, and although for about half of the rows I managed to get it spot on, another half required more tedious picking at and evening out...

All in all, everything went to plan. I lost a day whilst at it. Those of you, who followed this tale from the beginning, know that I have set myself a timeline for this project - half-term break, which is NOW. I'm actually a little way away from the END. It's a cruise now though, through the last simple stage. I reckon I will have it all finished for the next weekend. Bear with me...

The dyeing workshop is due to be re-opened shortly after the finishing line is crossed on this one :) I am looking forward to this!

23 January 2009

Dress Adventures

I have been working on the Red (I know, it's not red YET) Day Dress a lot and have finally reached the bust zone. It's exciting, as it means I'm nearly ready to work on the sleeves! But before I go further into this I must catch you up on the developments that led me here.

I have mentioned recently the trickiness of the gauge when it gets complex. And I have promised to say more about custom plying...

I'm working on 3.5mm needles and I'm custom plying the yarn. The skirt '5-ply' consists of 1 strand of organic alpaca yarn, 3 strands of tussah silk and 1 strand of shantung silk:

The body '6-ply' consists of 2 strands of recycled cashmere (which roughly is equivalent of alpaca strand used for the skirt), 3 strands of tussah silk and 1 strand of shantung silk:

Although the difference between alpaca strand and double cashmere strand is minimal it actually affects the gauge quite a bit. Custom made charts below show skirt gauge on the top right and body gauge on the bottom left:

1 stitch in skirt gauge measures 35mm x 47mm (H x W)
1 stitch in body gauge measures 32mm x 43mm (H x W)

These charts are quite easy to make and invaluable if you are designing something from scratch. Simply make a table in a word document with lots of columns and rows and then adjust the height and width according to your gauge measurements PER STITCH.

Below is a sample of body fabric gauge and it works out at 31 rnds and 23 sts to 10cm. You need to divide 10cm by 31 (= 32mm) to get the height, and by 23 (= 43mm) to get the width.

I have used this technique to design the hip curve on the skirt. Here is the chart:

It worked a treat (as it does in 99 cases out of 100).

And it is accentuated by the strategically positioned pleat.

Well, now that I'm on the bust level the subject of the next post is quite clear in my mind. It is going to be on charting the breasts :)

18 January 2009

Surprise In The Mail!

Well, I have stayed up too late watching "There Will Be Blood" (with Daniel Day-Lewis - I had a crash on him in my teenage years - ooops! should I be sharing this?) on Friday. Very intense. Saturday morning the bell rang and I half thought I was actually dreaming still, but it rang again. So I got up and - half asleep - went to open the door. By the time I clambered down the stairs the postman was already gone. Under the door mat there was an envelope. I picked it up and looked at the addressee (me?) not knowing what it might be...

I have already forgotten a deadline of nearly 1 year ago. And here are the actual books!

One of the Stitchville hats has actually made it onto the cover (hooray!). Styled here (above) like a classic pillbox-style hat, but can be also worn à la française, more like a beret...

I love the surprise moment that is a given of publishing turnover time...

Off to have another cup of coffee now, but will be back soon to talk more about the Stitch Style projects (unfortunately, some of the original instructions were simplified to widen the appeal of the projects). I figure I can still debrief my preferred approach which, given you are adventurous enough and your fingers are agile enough, can be of use to the potential "takers". I will also present a couple of technical tricks involved so that you don't have to look for them elsewhere...