Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Very Last Knitted Dress

I've knitted my niece Cauliflower a dress with an accompanying matching purse every year since she was born. But the "knitted dress with matching purse" is a very little girl look, and given that Cauliflower has just turned seven, I decided that this should be the last year I do it, and that starting next year, I will be knitting her sweaters and sewing her dresses. I further decided that this seventh and last knitted dress must be extra special.

The first step was to search Ravelry for a special little girl's dress pattern. I chose the Seamless Flower Dress, by Ewelina Murach. It's an attractive piece of contemporary design, and it's quite simple and wearable -- it's not too dressy for school.

The pattern called for a DK weight yarn, and I also wanted wool. As to colour, my niece loves pink and has dressed Cauliflower in pink (and done her room in pink) ever since she was born. I've never made Cauliflower anything that was pink as I thought she ought to have some other colours in her wardrobe. However, Cauliflower is now old enough to have her own favourite colours, and her favourite colour is... pink, with red running a close second. This last special knitted dress really ought to be in a colour she loved, so I decided the dress should be pink or red. I visited Romni Wools during their 20% off sale and found just the right yarn in their bargain basement: the discontinued Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester DK in Rose.

And here's the finished dress and purse. I made the dress in a size 8, which was the largest size the dress pattern ran to. The dress has an unusual construction: one begins by crocheting the centre of the floral device and then knitting outwards until the flower is completed, places the sleeve stitches on holders, knits the skirt, knits the sleeves, and knits an I-cord finish on the neckline. I didn't modify this pattern at all. I do have my qualms about those eyelets, which will mean Cauliflower has to wear a slip or some sort of underlayer. I suppose little girls generally wear undershirts in cold weather anyway and it won't make much practical difference to Cauliflower.

This pink was a very difficult pink to match. I couldn't find a pink button for it (the Queen Street West button store that was my go-to source for hard-to-match items closed down because the owner retired, sob), so I wound up using this white button with iridescent pink streaks that I had in my button tin. It stands out too much for my liking but doesn't actually look bad, and it'll be hidden under Cauliflower's very long hair anyway.

The purse, for which I used the Squircle pattern, and some pink ribbon that goes but doesn't quite match. I visited a shop on Queen Street West that carries nothing but ribbons and this was the closest match they had. I wish I could have matched the ribbon's colour to the dress's button instead of going with this off-shade pink, but I bought the ribbon before I realized I wasn't going to be able to find a pink button -- but again, the button is going to show very little.

I made the ribbon rose you see here and also a corresponding one for the other side of the purse using some internet tutorials. Making ribbon roses is a very useful little skill (store bought ribbon roses are only available in a few colours and sizes), and pretty easy once you get the hang of it. I do wish I'd taken the trouble to make the bag design more like that of the dress -- I could have added some eyelets, for instance. Knit and learn, I guess.

And I'd wax sentimental about this last knitted dress... but for the fact that there are other little girls in the world for whom I can make as many little dresses and purses as I could possibly find time and materials for. Thank heaven for little girls.