All She Carries In Her Frolics and Ferments

July 25, 2013

This is the first of my show entries I would like to share with you. This one is especially dear to me.  The streaks of paint and toothpaste already adorning it, tell me my Dear Girl loves it too.

IMG_7314The idea for this little red dress formed all the way back in March.  I was waiting at school pick up one day when a mum slipped a paper into my hand.  ‘This is the poem I was telling you about’ she said. It is truly amazing the conversations you have at pick up time.

This is the poem she gave me.

Child in Red – Rainer Maria Rilke


Sometimes she walks through the village in her
little red dress
all absorbed in restraining herself,
and yet, despite herself, she seems to move
according to the rhythm of her life to come.


She runs a bit, hesitates, stops,
half-turns around…
and, all while dreaming, shakes her head
for or against.


Then she dances a few steps
that she invents and forgets,
no doubt finding out that life
moves on too fast.


It’s not so much that she steps out
of the small body enclosing her,
but that all she carries in herself
frolics and ferments.


It’s this dress that she’ll remember
later in a sweet surrender;
when her whole life is full of risks,
the little red dress will always seem right.

It is such an evocative poem.  As I read it, I pictured my own Dear Girl in the dress that I have knit. I saw a simple yoked tunic, with short gathered sleeves and a length for unencumbered scampering, running and climbing.

It is knit in the round from the top down. It is seamless for comfort and can be lengthened as the child grows. It is not quite the length I intended because I ran out of yarn! It needs another inch.

The yoke increases were hidden in the eyelet pattern. The first, third and fifth eyelet rows being the increase rounds and the second and fourth eyelet rounds being purely decorative in order to introduce repetition and unite the pattern.  This increase rounds were worked according to Elizabeth Zimmerman’s formula in The Opinionated Knitter.

IMG_7425Other techniques incorporated into the design:

  • short rows worked after the last increase round across the back between the shoulder tips to lift the back neck
  • provisional crochet cast on was used for the under arms to maintain the seamlessness of the garment
  • mirrored increases for side shaping
  • the gathered cap sleeve was made by decreasing severely (k3tog) just after uniting the underarm stitches with the yoke stitches.
  • rolled hem for the neck and sleeves

 to go to Frolics and Ferments project page.

It doesn’t really get any more simple than this design but it took me ages to finish it.  This was the dress I had to unravel just as I got to the end because the short rows were so gapey and ugly.  I learned about short rows again and did it over.  And I am so pleased I did because this little lovely got second place in the Garment of Own Design using Commercial Yarn section in the Woolcraft competition at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show 2013 (phew…that is a bit of posterity documentation there!) The winning entry was an amazing lace shawl. It was soooo beautiful.

IMG_7288The yarn I used was Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply in Brick. I have mentioned in other posts that the yarn was left over from the Red Bertha Shoulder Wrap.  But what I haven’t mentioned before is that I lost the ball bands, those bits of paper which come with the yarn with the all the information about weight, shade and dye lot numbers. DO NOT THROW THESE AWAY EVER!  You absolutely have to have these to enter something into competition.

So thank you, thank you, thank you to the mystery Bendigo Woollen Mills salesperson who took my frantic call and found me a spare ball band for the red yarn and the purple one so I could enter the show. You are a kind and caring person and the Yarn Gods smile upon you and your children’s children.

The judges commented (don’t you just love that: constructive advice from experts on improving your knitting) that the garment could have benefited to more attention to finishing.  I am pretty sure that this refers to the woven ends in the middle-back of the skirt section where I had to join a new yarn.

IMG_7308The thing about circular knitting is that you can’t hide a join in the side seam because there are no side seams.  My preferred joining method up till now has been holding the old and new yarn together and knitting one stitch, then continuing with the new yarn, weaving the ends in later.   From the front, it is invisible but the back while neat is visible.  So I wonder if it is time to embrace the spit splice? With the spit splice, you open up the plies of both yarn ends, give them a lick and then roll them on your thigh together. The plies intertwine and you knit them as a single yarn. The join is virtually invisible.  Has anyone tried this technique?

So thanks Kathleen for sharing the Rilke, what a ways it took me.