Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Story of the Dress

My apologies to anyone who is on dial up or has a slow Internet connection.
This post is very photo heavy and may take a while to download, but I think it is worth it ; )

It all started before we were even engaged. In the two weeks from the time Chris went to Boise for his interview and when they called to officially offer him the position, we were both pretty sure he would get the job, and I was pretty sure we would be getting engaged if he did. I saw the Spring/Summer 2008 issue of Vogue Knitting at Joann's and it contained the most beautiful knitted wedding dress that intrigued me as both a knitter and a potential new bride. I knew from the beginning that I didn't want a big frilly dress and that I wanted to do as much crafty stuff for the wedding as possible; this dress seemed a great way to combine the two.

Needless to say, I purchased the magazine before we were even engaged and started making arrangements. Never let it be said that I am one who lacks patience (snicker, sneer, snort - hahaha!). So I bring the magazine home and hide it with the other (only!) bridal magazine I had purchased, and felt like I was hiding porn in my parent's house or something, but we ended up getting engaged very shortly afterwards and it all worked out okay.

Then the move to Boise got under way, and due to an error in communication, all my knitting needles and the magazine containing the pattern got shipped in the moving truck and I was not able to access them until we had been here for about two months (after we bought the house). The pattern required five different size needles, some circular, some straight, and I just couldn't justify spending the money to buy all new knitting needles when it wasn't absolutely necessary. This decision was mostly influenced by the fact that I didn't have a job for almost two months and money was tight.

So, we buy the house, I get a job, and I can look at the pattern again and afford to start making plans. About the same time, I also heard about the Ravelympics (a competition that happens during the Summer Olympics and involves knitting something ridiculously hard during the time between the opening and closing ceremonies) and thought "Hey, that sounds like fun!" and so, I ordered the yarn to make the dress.

I waited patiently for the yarn to arrive, and then waited patiently for the opening ceremonies to cast on the dress. I swatched before hand and had all my needles and supplies and a time table all planned out. Then came the opening ceremonies and below is what I got done the FIRST day - it was looking good!
Things continued to go well the next day: Look! Progress!
Then there were a few days where I forgot to take daily progress pictures, but still: Look! Progress!!
Then, well, Christoper happened. All of this knitting was taking a very long time, and when I told him I needed private time for a knitting project, he couldn't see it or know what it was, and he couldn't come in the craft room, well, it made him want to stand outside the craft room door and ask me what I was doing. Repeatedly. Frequently. I started to get a little frustrated, both with the ridiculous quantity of knitting, and with my fiance (and the fact that the carpal tunnel syndrome started acting up didn't help either).

I realized this was not the state of mind I wanted to be in while I worked on the dress, and that I had plenty of time to finish the dress (we still had not set a date, but I knew it wouldn't be for at least nine months - HA! wrong on that one!), so I decided that once the skirt was done, it was time to be happy and spend time with the handsome man that I love and that being together with my needy little fiance boy was more important than finishing the Ravelympics.

So, I took a break from the wedding dress knitting. We took a trip back to New York, Chris' parents came out to visit. Then it was Christmas knitting time ( still owe you all several posts on that). Through all this, the dress sat, wrapped in tissue, in the closet in the craft room. After all, I had plenty of time, right? The wedding plans had fallen through a total of five times (no kidding), and while we might not have had things figured out, I knew the wedding wasn't going to be any sooner than May 2009

Well, I finished all the Christmas knitting, and had a few days off after Christmas to use kmy new spinning wheel (which has sat lonely and un-spinning since that time).

Then Chris got the message from work that he had to take all of his personal time off in the month of January. A plan was hatched since we also noticed SouthWest was having half price flights to Las Vegas, and we decided to elope without telling anyone. Suddenly, the wedding was less than a month away, and I needed to finish knitting my wedding dress!

So I began work on the top of the dress. The knitting of this part was a lot harder to me than the skirt knitting, and I really struggled with it. Mistakes were made, but I said "No big deal, I can't fix it and I can't start over, I don't have time!"
And so, I continued on like this until the pattern became second nature and I knew how to do it pretty much with my eyes closed (bit of an exaggeration there). As I came to know the pattern and what it looked like when it was adding up correctly, I realized that my attitude of "No big deal, I can't fix it and I can't start over, I don't have time!" was no longer going to cut it. The lace looked like crap, I wasn't getting gauge since the pattern was so off, things weren't lining up and I was not happy and would not be proud to wear this on my weding day. So, ONE WEEK before the dress had to be packed in a suitcase and anticipating its journey to Las Vegas, when all I had done was a skirt without the yarn ends even wove in - I started the top over again.
Its a good thing Chris went snowboarding that night because it was not pretty around the house. To say there was crying would be an understatement. To say maybe the neighbors heard some painful screaming would not be an exaggeration.
So, in the matter of one week, I managed to finish knitting the top and the waistband, seam the whole damn dress and weave in a zillion ends, crochet the armhole edging and the closure on the back, sew on the buttons, decide that the waistband seaming didn't look so great and come up with the brilliant idea to add a crochet edging to the top and bottom to cover the seam, and block the whole thing three times. I also was trying to knit my bouquet and a purse and also make my own veil (more on those later this week - none of these things ended up working out the way I wanted them to and in the end they were abandoned in favor of sanity). Basically, I did this:

Detail of the skirt lace
Detail of the top lace - this is what it is supposed to look like!

Look Mom (and Mother in Law who was going to have to help me with the crochet parts until I put on my big girl panties and did it myself out of necessity) - I can crochet!

One of my favorite things about the dress is the button band that goes up the back...wish I could see it while I am wearing it though - that's how much I love it!

Look how delicate and lovely it is!!
And, in the end, the hardest thing was not showing the dress to Chris when it was finished. There was a triumphant howl of joy when I made the last stitch and had it on the floor blocking into shape, but the one person who I most enjoy sharing my knitting triumph with was dead set against seeing it until the wedding - which is understandable since he wanted that piece of tradition since we would be forgoing so many of them with eloping to Vegas. In the end, the look on his face when I came out wearing it was worth so much to me, I am happy I waited.
And that my dears, is the story of my wedding dress. I am excited that I will get to wear it again when we have out reception party back in New York this summer. Even though there were some problems and things didn't go exactly as I had planned, it was wonderful wearing something that I spent so much time and effort on while I married Chris, and I think it made the night even more special.

On a purely Knitter knote (with a touch of bride thrown in) - I think the best way ever to show the hand knits a good time is to knit your own wedding dress and wear it to Las Vegas. Not only do people look at you because you are wearing a wedding dress (or maybe its because you are walking around with a cutie pie fiance/husband), but when they see it looks like it is knitted, they look a little confused. Either way, lots of people staring at your beautiful handiwork, and I think the dress itself enjoyed the tour of the Las Vegas Strip, especially after spending so much time in the craft closet!

Hope you all enjoy the Superbowl - I will be making enchiladas and we are just going to chill at home and watch it here. Chris ate all the Funyuns already, but somehow, we'll manage to get through it! The salt and vinegar chips might help with that, lol. Go Steelers!


elizabeth said...

Wow! What a story! I'm so glad you perserved - the dress is beautiful and you deserve a standing ovation!!!

Heidi said...

I think you should enter it into the fair this summer :)