Hi there, today I’m super excited to introduce you to one of my followers, Sarah Inskeep, which is also a blogger like myself. A while back I posted about the idea of having guest posts on my blog as an added fun for all of us and Sarah was quick to contact me and offer to do a post. And now I have received her post and I’m very happy to share it with you all:)
Sarah lives in the United States and she blogs about her life and love of knitting and spinning. You can visit her blog Sarahinskeep – Life, love and happiness by clicking here
Now before I share her post, I’d just like to reiterate my offer for guest posting. If you like writing, if you have a blog yourself, if you love knitting/crochet/spinning/felting, if you enjoy sharing your passion and would like to do a piece for my blog then please do not hesitate to contact me with your ideas and we’ll take it from there. You can contact me by email at: email@example.com
And now for the piece by Sarah – ENJOY:)
A HAND-KNIT LACE DRESS
A hand-knit lace dress… Looking back, I’m sometimes tempted to wonder what in the world I was thinking! A knitted dress! Lace?! And I had never even knit lace or made anything even as big as a sweater before! And then I remember the fabulous revelation that dawned on me when I made this hand-knit lace dress and why the process was so exhilarating: Anything is possible if you’re willing to learn, and to persevere with patience. I vow to keep this healthy crazy streak forever and encourage it in others as well!
I learned to knit when I was about ten years old. I made lots of clothes for my dolls and teddy bears; and hats, mittens, and scarves for family members; but I felt very intimidated by larger items like sweaters, shawls, and blankets. In high school and college I got too busy and knitting sort of fell by the wayside for a bit. Not long after we were married, my husband, Joe, suggested that I pick it up again. He thought that I worked too much and would benefit from the fun and relaxation of a hobby. (He’s right about a lot of things!) After an appropriate amount of resistance, I finally agreed, and when the needles and yarn were back in my hands again, I wondered how I had ever been able to put them down! It felt like no time at all had gone by; but at the same time, things were different too – new techniques, new stitches, even sweaters, were no longer intimidating, they were now fascinating! I wanted to know everything about knitting, and suddenly, I knew that I was going to learn whatever was necessary to make whatever it was I wanted to make!
One lovely Spring afternoon, I was cruising Ravelry and saw the Lacy Dress by Shirley Paden (Spring/Summer 2007 issue of Vogue Knitting). I knew instantly that I had to make it, that I was going to make it, no matter hard it might be or how long it might take! Right then and there I sealed the deal by ordering the yarn (Knit Picks Shine Sport, a wonderful silky soft cotton with a beautiful sheen to it), needles (4 and 4.5 mm), and the magazine with the pattern. It was all I could do to be patient until they arrived! Of course, once they finally did arrive, I got started swatching immediately and was soon able to cast on for the first section of the dress!
This was my introduction to lace. I had never knitted lace before, and I found it truly enjoyable and not as difficult as I had thought it would be. I was very pleased to discover that if one can follow instructions and do basic increases and decreases, then one can knit lace. Keeping up with the lace pattern kept my mind engaged, and I enjoyed being totally absorbed.
I learned something very interesting about knitting lace – there are two kinds: lace knitting, and knitted lace. This dress had both, so I got to practice both! Lace knitting is when the patterning (increases and decreases) happens every other row, with at least one plain knit or purl row between. Knitted lace is when the patterning happens on every row with no plain rows between. Fascinating! The narrow bands of lace on the dress are examples of knitted lace with patterning on every row. The larger panels are lace knitting since there is at least one plain row between the pattern rows.
I absolutely love Shirley Paden’s designs. Her laces are so beautiful, and her garment construction is so straightforward and well-planned while at the same time so graceful and artistic! I really enjoy knitting her patterns. I did make a couple of slight modifications based on personal preference: I made the dress a bit longer by adding one and half repeats of the lace pattern to the skirt, and raised the neckline a tad by delaying the start of the neckline shaping so it would fall a bit higher on the bodice. I also used a smaller size needle, the 4mm on the bottom ruffle in order to draw in the silhouette of the dress a bit at the bottom.
Something that I think really helped make the Lacy Dress manageable for me is that fact that you make it in sections, one piece at a time. I could focus on the piece I was working on now, rather than allow myself to be overwhelmed by the whole. Also, I found myself continually looking forward with excitement to the next step in the process of constructing the dress because I found the way that the Lacy Dress was put together fascinating. The narrow bands of knitted lace are worked horizontally, and the larger pieces of the dress, worked in lace knitting, are either picked up from or sewn to these lace bands. The whole thing was very organic, and there was less seaming, overall, than I had originally expected there to be.
I carried my lace dress knitting in my knitting bag with me everywhere I went. I worked on it in the car (when Joe was driving); on my lunch break at work, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, every spare moment. Friends and family would occasionally ask me how the dress was coming, and I’d pull out the piece I was working on, show it off, and explain that the other finished pieces were at home avoiding wrinkles… Once all the pieces were made, I blocked them, and then spent an evening or two completing the remaining seams and weaving in the ends. In just under a year, my Lacy Dress was finally complete!
I have to admit, the sleeves are my favorite part of this dress! They are so elegant and feminine. When being worn, the dress does need a slip under it because the lace pattern is so open. I have worn mine with a white slip and with a brown one, and both go very well, though they give very different effects. In hindsight, I would not add any extra length to the dress if I made another one because the cotton yarn is quite heavy and the dress does tend to stretch downward a bit when worn. It would be interesting to see how it would do in a wool yarn, since wool has more memory than cotton…
When I look at my Lacy Dress, I see a wonderful adventure, and I’m reminded that we can seize the day when we’re willing to take the time to learn and to keep at it until we succeed! It is my firm belief that anyone can knit a lace dress, if they want to; that you can knit whatever it is that you’re wanting and wishing you could knit. Go for it!
Wishing all of you many wonderful adventures and Happy Knitting!