Episode 2: The Pattern Search, or: Hi, FBI Watch List!

When I first decided to knit my dress, I resolved not to tell anyone about it, especially my fiancé. I thought I knew what reaction I would get from everyone: a pained expression followed by some variation on “You’ve completely lost your mind / That’s a terrible idea.” That was pretty much the reaction I got when I did tell Nick, and before you think he’s not  being supportive consider the fact that I actually ruined Christmas last year because I was so stressed out about finishing a baby blanket for a nephew who wasn’t even born yet. I wish I could say that was the first time I’ve had a problem with a self-imposed crafting deadline that resulted in tears, yelling, and hasty knitting in cars.

I’ll get into how I convinced Nick that this newest endeavor was even remotely a good idea later. (Hypnotism may have been involved).

Most people I’ve told about my venture have reacted with some degree of puzzlement, and it wasn’t until recently that I figured out why. What image appears when you think “hand knit sweater”?

I’m guessing most people think more of this:

Thanks, Aunt Irma.

And less of this:

Pattern from knitty.com

Knitting may be trendy now, but most people still firmly associate hand-knit items with hardcore fug. So I’m theorizing that anyone who made a weird face after I told them my plan was probably envisioning a longer, white version of Sweater A, paired with a veil made of dog fur.

According to the Internet, approximately twelve people have knitted their own wedding dress in recorded history. One of them was probably the world’s oldest woman, and she didn’t blog about it. That left me floundering in a sea of ancient knitting forums well-stocked with dead links and hideous, mostly “vintage” patterns.

Not quite my style.

Part of the problem was knowing exactly what I wanted: floor-length lace with a v-neck in the front and back. No poof, nothing chunky or heavy; I wanted it to be appropriate for an outdoor ceremony in June, and not look like a pattern Aunt Irma up there recorded in a cross-stitch sampler for future generations. As I mentioned in the last post, I desperately wanted a pattern similar to this designer dress. To my chagrin, there’s a reason that dress costs over $3,200; designer Jim Hjelm wants you to believe it’s not easily replicated by amateurs knitting at home while watching Battlestar Galactica. Well, I set out to prove him wrong.

Hours of determined clicking later, I felt I had accomplished nothing other than discovering the creepiest Google result of all time: a page entitled “Child’s Wedding Dress.” (Seeing as I was at work and value my income and my freedom, I did not click on it.) Finally, I found this post, which describes someone doing something remarkably similar to what I’m doing and resulted in a lovely dress. The post links back to the pattern from Vogue Knitting:

OK, so it only hits one of the three qualifications (lace, floor length, v-neck). But it can be modified: The skirt length is the easiest part to fix, but since the dress is worked in three parts — the skirt, the bodice, and a belt that attaches to both — it would also be possible to scrap the bodice completely and create my own. Even more frustrated clicking revealed a dearth of patterns for lace v-neck knit tops, so I resolved to start with the skirt and figure it out from there. I told myself, and later Nick, that I could just make the skirt and see how it went: if it takes a year and results in me weeping over piles of chevron lace, I’ll call it quits and figure that I just spent a lot of money to make a (hopefully) pretty skirt. Since we’re not tying any knots until 2013, I have time to let the crazy work its natural course.

Next up: Yarn buying, and how it resembles a fight to the death with a ninja.

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