Saturday, February 9, 2008

Victorian Lace Today

About a year ago, when Todd and I started down the long road of excess and rage that leads to An American Wedding, I got this idea that I was going to do some sort of major lace project, which, while it may sound crazy, is actually a pretty standard move in knitting circles. When, after much searching (oh, the volumes of bitter yet humorous prose I could write), I finally located a wedding dress that was both attractive (here a major criterion was the dress, if exposed to open flame, would burn rather than melt) and affordable (here a major criterion was the cost of the dress ought not to exceed the per capita GDP of Mauritania), it turned out to be a brilliantly vintage-esque all-lace number, which effectively eliminated the possibility of me knitting a lace stole for myself.














photo by Jacob Pritchard

This did not, however, eliminate a possibility that I had begun to entertain in secret, highly insane moments: why not knit stoles for the ladies of the wedding party? We were, after all, only talking about two ladies, both of whom had done a little knitting in the past and who therefore would truly appreciate a lace stole. And so it began.

First, there was the task of finding two lace stole patterns that would complement one another without being matchy and without fighting with the bridal lace. After much online searching (and this was back in the dark ages, that is, pre-Ravelry, so it wasn't nearly as simple as it would be now), I decided on two patterns from the fabulous Victorian Lace Today.

For the matron of honor, the Myrtle Leaf Shawl:















and for the bridesmaid, Miss Lambert's Shetland Pattern for a Shawl:















After a lot of hand wringing and a significant number of phone calls to local yarn stores, I decided to go with Helen's Lace, the classic and reliable high end 50/50 silk/merino laceweight from Lorna's Laces. And yes, I did buy a skein of it and immediately take it to the bridal salon and get permission to take the sample of my wedding dress out of the salon and down the street to a place with actual direct sunlight so I could make sure the ivory of the laceweight matched the ivory of my dress. Because clashing ivories could have ruined the wedding.

Now then. These were my first major lace projects, and while it is true that as lace goes, these are pretty tame, there's still a pretty steep learning curve over the first few repeats of the pattern.

Knitcrit: (indeterminate weeping noises)

Todd: Uh, honey, maybe you should put that dow --

Knitcrit: WHAT DO YOU MEAN PUT IT DOWN? WHAT DO YOU THINK I'M STUPID OR SOMETHING?

Todd: No, it's just that you seem really ups---

Knitcrit: I AM STUPID THIS ISN'T THAT HARD A LACE PATTERN AND I JUST CAN'T GET IT I CAN'T GET IT (tapers off into sobs)

Todd: It's just that you're beginning to --

Knitcrit: THAT'S IT I GIVE UP I CAN'T DO IT AND I SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO IT....

So when I finally made it over to the less dark side of the learning curve, the occasional hiccup aside (a safety line is absolutely essential), the matron of honor's stole inched slowly towards completion. I had never done a lace border before, so about a month before the wedding I took a lesson from one of the eminently capable and pleasant employees down at Knitty City, and soon the border was progressing nicely. I reached the first corner of the stole, and then something slightly inaccurate happened with my stitch counting, and I ignored it, and then about two inches after the corner I saw that it was not looking too good back there at the corner:
















And then I looked at the four-page-long single spaced list of things to do before the wedding that was taped by our door so we could be reminded of/tormented by all that we had to do whenever we left the apartment:






















photo by Jacob Pritchard


And I looked at the progress I had yet to make on the other stole:
















And I remembered that even someone as capable and famous as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee had failed to knit her own wedding shawl in time, and I suddenly reached a place of deep acceptance. Marriage does change a person, apparently, because I actually admitted defeat without all of my usual attendant feelings of failure and despair. And I still feel mostly okay with not making the deadline, except of course when I see this picture:
















photo by Brad Simpson

Yeah, the ladies of the wedding party got cold while we were taking formal pictures. And they didn't have lace stoles to keep them warm.

But anyway. Victorian Lace Today. As in, today I'm picking up the stole projects again - I've got a slightly unrealistic completion goal for the matron of honor stole, and for the other, a possibly also unrealistic deadline of April 30th. Watch me go. crazy.

1 comment:

Abbeykins said...

I've discovered that everyone has regrets about their wedding. Three years later, I discovered that it's okay I didn't make anything for my bridesmaids. They came, we saw, we conquered. Weddings are silly with everything to do. They're insane and I think they make women insane and I think even worse, it ruins lives. Down with wedding paraphernalia! Up with enjoying doing something fun for yourself! I bet they would love the shawl, late or not. :D