It’s done.

I have finished the dress, but due to the nature of this time of the year (finals, papers, packing, moving out, etc), I have not had time to take final images.  I can, however, post the video of the process that I showed in my presentation.  Enjoy

I promise images will come, but that might not happen until next week.  First world problem.


Knitting Update


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I have been trying to show people how far I am, but they usually just see a blob of knitted yarn.  Hopefully this image will help a bit.  I have finished the shoulder/sleeve piece, the main skirt piece, and the band at the bottom of the skirt (a recent addition to the concept).  These are shown in violet to the left.

Because of the difference in proportions of a croquis (fashion illustration figure) and a real person, the actual pieces are quite different from what I have drawn.  This is not an insult to my girlfriend (and model), it is just another example of how out-of-whack our culture’s perceptions are.  I actually had a lot of difficulty learning how to draw croquis, and now it makes me wonder why I even tried.  While I would have never done figure drawing quality for my illustrations, I could have given them much more realistic proportions.

I am an industrial designer, and typically industrial designers are more sensitive to realistic proportions when we sketch people.  The reason for that is because the inclusion of a hand or a torso into our sketch is to portray the scale of our product concept and its intended use.  I am not saying that fashion illustration is completely wrong in their approach, but how hard is it to make a design look good on a figure with no shape of their own?  I am sure I will get some flak for my last sentence, but think about the multiple times a day you see someone wearing clothing that was just not meant for their body type.  After that, explain to me why 90% (arbitrary statistic I made up) of croquis are size 0000.

This completes my unnecessary rant.

Back to knitting.  Because of the issues of proportions and modesty, the main part of the skirt covers lower on the hips.  This means I have a lot less to go to finish the skirt portion than my sketch conveys.  I predict that I will finish the skirt pieces Thursday afternoon.  The top I expect to have done by Friday night.  Saturday I will dye the pieces and yarn to be used to stitch the pieces together.  They will need to dry, so hopefully Sunday afternoon I can stitch them together.  That leaves me Sunday and Monday to finish up my video for my presentation on Tuesday.

I am glad I just wrote out my schedule, because it is nice to know I do, in fact, have time to complete my project even though it is getting down to the wire.  The sad thing is, I don’t believe I ever procrastinated on this project.  In fact, whenever I didn’t want to work on my other projects, this was my go-to.  It just takes that long to do a project like this.

Knitting On The Go




This weekend, I went to the IDSA District Conference in Chicago.  While it was definitely worth going, I have a lot of catching up to do for all of my projects.  Luckily, I got some knitting in over the trip– mostly during the drive and a bit during some of the speeches.  Things are taking shape.

It is interesting to make a knitting pattern on the fly.  It is definitely not for the novice, but I have gotten pretty good at ‘reading’ my knitting over the years which helps when you have to reproduce different segments elsewhere in the piece (or produce duplicates like gloves or socks).  I rarely record any of my patterns, but I think that just reinforces how one-off my work is.  I could probably do a pretty good reproduction of most of my pieces, but why should I?

I just realized how much blocking this dress will require (letting the piece dry in the intended form to help it hold its shape) and how hard that is going to be to do. Too bad I don’t have a mannequin…  P.F.A.D. (Problem For Another Day).

Skirt Piece Progress (A.K.A. Upper-Butt Covering)


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I realize that my deadline (April 24) is approaching so, I have been knitting like mad.  Even though I started working on this project almost as soon as it was assigned (very little procrastination occurred), I still have a lot to go.  Luckily I just have knitting, dying, and some videotaping left.  Some people are more worried than I am.  I just know how long it takes me to find an idea I like and decide to move forward with it, so I am glad I am at least that far.  And I have all the yarn spun (hopefully), which I was a little nervous about because I learned how to spin specifically for this project.

Yes, knitting is very time-consuming, but I can do it rather mindlessly for hours on end.  In my mind, I am on track (or maybe just a little behind).  Here is my progress with the skirt part so far:

Upper part of skirt working downwards.

Also, I am using some bamboo circular needles I picked up from The Rose Tree Fiber Shop here in Ames.  They keep asking me for updates whenever I am in for supplies.  They think I am crazy.

I am.

Despite how unevenly my yarn was spun, knitting it has visually smoothed out those differences.  And good thing because otherwise I would me much less happy about my project than I am so far.

Side view

For the knitters out there… (everybody else probably should just stop reading at this point)

Started by casting on a whole bunch of stitches (that’s the slightly less exact phrasing for 144)

Did short rows, that increased slightly in size, to shape the front ‘point’

When I got most of the way around, I just did a plain stockinette tube for a few inches (also an ambiguous estimation).

Based on the measurements I took of my model, I knew I had to increase a about 30 stitches by the hip location which I guessed to be about 6-7 inches from the top at the side.  To do this, I did a ‘make one’ increase on either side of the stitches exactly opposite each other on the sides.  (By ‘make one’ I actually mean something else that I don’t know the name of and actually probably made up.  A normal ‘make one’ makes a pretty large hole (not desirable for modesty), so I actually twisted the picked up stitch 180˚ before knitting it.  Whatever this is called… i did that.)  I did this increase every other row for 16 rows giving me 32 extra stitches.  This can be seen in the top of the second picture.

Now I am working in a tube shape again, but I am doing a few short rows along the back to shape the buttock.  This works much like the turning of sock heel– just more subtly.  Hopefully this will make the dress fit the form better and not have to stretch so much to accommodate body curves.  (More pictures later when these efforts are more recognizable.

And yes, I am using paper clips and safety pins as stitch markers (who needs those fancy ‘official’ stitch markers anyways?

Cabled Cap Sleeves


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They’re not much to show, but here is my progress so far.  The sleeves have a cable stitch along the outside and they will eventually be connected by a few rows of garter stitch.

I wanted them to look and feel thicker and chunkier than the rest of the dress.  I see the more coarsely knit parts of the dress providing a contrast to the more refined portions (mostly stockinette for the knitters out there), and the stitching that will go between the two types emphasizes both the separation and the tension of the separate parts.

My fingers aren’t sore yet… but they will be.


I. Started. Knitting. Finally.


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For a knitting project, I have done a whole lot of everything else besides knitting.  Not anymore.  Today I did a small gauge swatch to figure out what size of needles I wanted to use and the total number of stitches I needed to cast on said needles.  After that, I pulled apart the test swatch and officially casted on the first stitches of what will become the main skirt section.

Needles: US 6 DPs (double-pointed needles); Total stitches to cast on: 144. 

If it doesn’t look like anything yet, it will soon.  These stitches are what will eventually go around the waist just below the belly button.  I will knit downwards for this section.

For those who haven’t seen the sketching video of my design, here is a picture (I forgot to upload one anyways).

Sun Dried Wool.


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Video taping definitely is slowing my productivity down a bit, making me glad I didn’t put off starting this project.  Doing things by hand always takes a long time.  But on a good note, I’m starting to get a good pile of yarn spun and ready for knitting.

So far, I have about 9 ounces that are spun slightly finer for the top and main part of the skirt.  I also have about 3 ounces of chunkier yarn that I am planning to use on the sleeves and hip panels on the dress.

Here’s some freshly spun yarn hanging in the window to dry after taking a quick bath to set the twist.

I have roughly twelve ounces spun so far, but I am expecting I will need a bit more for the dress and all of its parts.

I love seeing physical progress.  It makes the effort worth it.

Am I a Videographer Now?


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As part of my semester project of knitting a dress, I am documenting the process in film to show my efforts to my class (not just the final knitted piece).  Even though I have been working for months, I just started filming.  I haven’t completely finished any step yet, so all of the processes will still be documented.  Besides, if I videotaped the ENTIRE process, there would be so many bits of data trying to fit on my computer’s hard drive that it would likely go on strike.

The primary subject of my videos yesterday was of a sketch I did of my dress concept.

Here’s a video teaser:

I by no means claim to be a videographer– the last thing I videotaped was a skateboard video in early high school and that didn’t even make it past the filming stage.  Thankfully, I am a bit more prepared and more driven for this video endeavor.  Still, I know this is going to take a bit of creative problem solving to figure out how to do all of this.

Concept Chosen


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I think I have found the concept I am moving forward with. Here it is (keep in mind, it’s rough):

I’m sure I will do refinement drawings next week where you can see things a bit better, but for now, I will help describe what’s going on.  The dress is essentially three separate parts (sleeve/shoulder piece, top, and bottom) connected by felted strands of yarn.  The bottom will also have a hole on either side with more strands to fill it. I wanted to make this a knitted dress, but incorporate other methods that are not necessarily knitted.  I think this dress does just that.

This is just my initial concept of what I want to do, it will go through a lot of refinement.  But, I am happy with where the concept is going.

Sometimes it pays to be a little less careful.

Back to Basics


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So far I have been exploring different styles of dresses since I was not sure what I wanted to make. Often, this is where my creative process begins. I start with only a rough idea of what I want to make– in this case, a dress. I must later hone the idea down to a more manageable idea. I do this by sketching.

I’m a visual person. A few weeks ago, I couldn’t tell you that I didn’t want to make a baggy dress, because I had not drawn out my idea of one. I feel like most creative endeavors require you to cast a wide net. That is what I have done. But if you look at my ideation sketches, you will see many dresses are pretty similar. That’s because the sketches that made it to that page were ones I liked. Apparently I like form fitting dresses cut to the mid-thigh or a bit lower that have structure and little embellishment. I am okay with that. Finding your style is half the battle.

Even though I had found my style, I had not found a specific dress I was happy with. I think a lot of that is to blame on my drawing methods. I bought a digital tablet a few weeks ago and had been sketching for this project with it almost exclusively. As much as I love my new digital tablet, I moved back to pen and paper for some more sketches. I found that using the tablet too soon made me focus more on the drawing than the dress. So I did some doodling yesterday trying to keep my drawing quick and not worrying about the craft as much.

Here were a few I came up with.   The two on the outsides are pretty interesting and I doubt I would have come up with them right on the tablet.