I may have broken all my previous records with this latest knit. When I saw the pattern at TNNA in June, I immediately pegged it as a fantastic Rhinebeck sweater. It was clearly ambitious, it was new and different for me (I’ve never knit a dress before), and it would show off a design by a real-life friend of mine, Anna Cohen (who designed Emily’s wedding dress, when I knit the bride a shawl). But the pattern from Imperial Knits Collection wasn’t ready yet, and the kit yet to be put together, so I had to wait and hope that I’d have enough time to finish. As September was passing me by I got more and more nervous. October 15 was coming up fast.
The kit was in my hands on September 27. A Tuesday. Two weeks and four days from the Saturday of Rhinebeck. It was do or die!!
And I DID. This baby is knit on size 4 needles, but I didn’t let that discourage me. I just did the quickest swatch ever and dove in. Thirteen days later, I had finished the three-needle bind-off and dunked the dress in a sinkful of water and wool wash. Thirteen days! Plenty of time for it to dry before the Saturday festival! It’s important to note that in those 13 days I ended up having 2 sick days, 1 comp day (so a total of 3 days off of work) and two weekends—without those long stretches I may not have finished in time.
The yarn, Imperial Yarn’s Tracie (too bad it isn’t their “Erin” yarn!), is a rustic Columbia wool with a lot of lanolin so it’s really nice to knit with (though with my 10-hour-long knitting jags, I did start to get something like rug burn on my finger!). The pattern, Sunburst Shirt Dress, I must warn you, is definitely for experienced knitters—a lot of jugging many parts at once, knowing how to read your knitting like a pro, etc. But trust your own instincts and the photo of the dress and you’ll be fine. It’s ultimately a simple shape; it just requires some sophisticated managing.
I made it longer by about an inch in the lace and then two inches before the armhole (plus blocked it to be a bit longer), so it was more dress-like than tunic-like. I’ve never worn a tunic before and knew it would make me self-conscious. I didn’t want to wear a T-shirt under it, but the cold and rain meant I needed more layers! I didn’t want to wear a shirt under it because of the back. It’s so gorgeous, I probably should have worn my hair up, too (the model in the pattern has very short hair—this dress is awesome enough to make you want to copy her!).
[Stitchy McYarnpants worked as our stylist for the shoot, smoothing out wrinkles, taming flyaway hair, and of course, ensuring that my ass looked as good as it could. Ahem.]
I also modified the neckline on the front, figuring that the high straight neckline would chop me off too abruptly; given I’m not particularly tall, that doesn’t do me any favors. I just picked a spot for the neck and worked each shoulder separately on either side from there (but maintaining everything else the same at the armhole edge). I worked the shoulders as short rows so that I’d have a nice clean edge when I bound it all off. If I’d had more time I might have gone back and raised the neckline a bit, but it was nice like this, too.
Rhinebeck is, of course, the perfect place to shoot photos of your finished Rhinebeck sweater, and how better to get a great assortment of photos than to enlist a professional photographer? Caro of Splityarn and I went back behind the Antiques Museum building with some friends and had a silly little photo shoot. I enjoyed employing all the standard cliche elements of a single FO shot in my first pic above: pigeontoed, tucking the hair, etc. Big thanks to her and Stitchy (and of course the hecklers who sat to watch: Pam, Cass, Wendy) for doing what me and a tripod would have never accomplished!