As always, the soundtrack to my design as I was writing the pattern and knitting the sample. I walked down the aisle to "Perpetuum Mobile" and finished the ceremony with "The Winner Is." Enjoy!
AlexSquared: How Knitting Led Me to AlexKnitting is my life, so it’s fitting that knitting led me to my husband. In 2009, I attended my first knit night. It was such a wonderful experience that I wrote a blog post about it. Rachel, another young woman saw the post and was inspired to join the group. Our friendship grew, as did our knitting skills. It was Rachel who would introduce me to Alex (mostly because I think she found it humorous that we shared the same name, but also because she knew we shared a love of travel and adventure).
Designing a Wedding DressIn August of 2013 I began sketching. I knew the silhouette I wanted: a fitted bodice with a full skirt and I knew that I wanted an Austrian stitch motif to honor Alex’s family (his father is Austrian, as is his mother’s mother). I found my motifs in Maria Erlbacher’s Twisted-Stitch Knitting. For the center-front panel I selected “#91 Large Chain with Twisted Bands” flanked by two braided cables, and for the remaining dress “#166 Double Chain”. I originally designed the dress with a high round neck and a large shawl collar, but later changed to an elegant fold over boatneck.
|Sketching the dress.|
Choosing the YarnOnce my ideas were transferred to paper, I shifted my focus to the ideal materials with which to bring the design to life. The yarn decision came easily when I remembered the 20 skeins of Michell Luxury Edition Alpaca-Cashmere in an ecru colorway that I had purchased in Peru the year before. Who knew I’d be able to stash bust for my wedding dress?! While the alpaca-cashmere would become the body of the dress, I wanted something more delicate and ethereal for the lace at the hem and collar. Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze Glamour, a mohair silk blend studded with delicate glass-like sequins, fit the bill perfectly.
Creating the PatternAll patterns begin with swatching. I started by working my desired motifs in the DK weight yarn using US 6 needles. I was pleased with the even tension and stitch definition, so decided to proceed on the 6s. The key measurement for this design was the waist; it would be here that all of the double chains would converge. After subtracting out the center-front motif, I learned how many of the double chains would make up the remaining circumference at the waist.
|The continuous line of the double chain motif from the hem to the neck.|
Finally, I had to negotiate the waist-to-bust increase, keeping the visual line of the chains unbroken. Unfortunately, increasing the size of the stitch motif wasn’t an option, as I wanted the bodice fabric to look delicate. I decided to eliminate two of the chain motifs at each side of the dress and instead worked a seed stitch motif across these stitches. All of my increases were invisibly worked into the seed stitch section, solving the problem of broken lines.
|The transition from double chains to seed stitch on the bodice.|
ConstructionThe dress is worked in the round from the hem up so that it is seamless to the underarms. I began with a simple mesh lace at the hem, worked only in the Kidsilk Haze Glamour (KHG). The asymmetrical shape of the lace (it’s longer in the back than in the front to mirror the chapel length train of the underskirt) was achieved by working short rows. I didn’t want the lace to transition immediately into a solid fabric so the 12-stitch chain motif at the hem uses a combination of yos and k2togs to create lacework within each chain.
Initially, I held one strand of the KHG together with the alpaca-cashmere to blend the two yarns. As the chains became smaller and smaller, I transitioned from lacework to seed stitch and dropped the strand of KHG as I worked the smallest chains in reverse stockinette. I separated the front and back at the underarms and worked each piece flat. The sleeves were worked flat and set in, giving the dress a very stable fabric at the shoulders (this is important because this is the area that is holding the weight of the dress).
|The body of the dress was finished on November 20.|
Embellishing the DesignI opted for a crocheted lace edging to save on time. I chose "Romanesque Arches" from Interweave’s Crochet Edgings & Trims (The Harmony Guides).The lace edging had an art deco feel reminiscent of my vintage engagement ring and looked beautiful with the dress.
|crocheting the lace border|
|The finished lace.|
|Sewing on the pearls.|
The Big DayThe night before the wedding my petticoat still hadn't arrived. UPS finally delivered it at 6pm. The petticoat was vital to the design because it served not only to fluff up my dress, but more importantly to hold the weight of the knitted fabric (the dress weighs 2.5 pounds). I tried all of the pieces on together for the first time that night.
Our wedding day had arrived. My husband met me at the alter in a wool-cashmere suit we had made while in China, and not to be outdone, a handknit tie I made for him using a vibrant shade of green ToshMerino Light. I walked down the aisle feeling like I was floating on air. We were married in my friend Rebecca’s restaurant, Kybecca. The venue was draped in hundreds of colorful pompom garlands, crafted by Alex. The ceremony was beautiful and it was followed by a brunch celebration with friends and family. A bride and a knitwear designer couldn’t ask for a better day.
|Alex showing off his handknit tie.|
|You may recognize my little brother on the left. He's my knitwear model.|
Question and AnswerI’ve tried to answer possible questions below. If you think of others please leave them in the comment section. You can also communicate with me on Facebook and Twitter.
|Stop by Old Town Yarnery in Fredericksburg, VA to see the dress in person and check out their great selection of yarns while you're there.|
After the dress is removed from display, it will be carefully packaged and put away. I plan to eventually donate the dress to a museum.