Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Thus complete, the Rockin' Red Dress, designed by Doris Chan, Crochet Goddess

Loyal Followers know my hero worship of the crochet goddess, Doris Chan.  Here she served up a dress design in crochet magazine, Interweave of Fall 2012 that would put hairs on just about anybody's chest.  I mentioned it in a post earlier this summer, while I toiled away at the beginning stages of my Rockin' Red Dress, otherwise known as the Lt. Uhura Dress.  Some combination of delight, pride, relief and excitement for the next project is filling my heart as I look at a few of the photos we compiled during our recent trip to Ontario.   Here is a sampling of the growing organism that is a lovingly crafted handworked piece, as it travels far and wide.  The journey begins in old Oak Park, but my life here at home is just complicated enough that I didn't get far before shelving the work and waiting for quiet resort time. 

two months of on and off work, figuring out the quiver stitch.
First stop home on the coast.  We muddled through the early, and most complicated stages right here in Florence, Oregon.  There were quite a few points in which the ever resource-laden website, Ravelry, came in handy.  Those of you who are handworkers, if you haven't taken advantage of the gift that is Ravelry, check it out, ASAP.  This is such a terrifically designed site and a functional joy to use.  It's on Ravelry that I can find other like-minded aficionados who have toiled on the same design.
Finally. A perfect swatch. 

Mom & Dad's old Patio Chaiz Lounge.

Poolside, I crafted the base of the yoke/neckline.  One tiny misstep here, and we have a crooked dress down the line.  Not loyal to the beauty that is expected in this work.
The beginnings of collar/yoke.  Needs to be absolutely perfect.
By the time we join the yoke at the back I realize that I actually have the workings of a dress.  Up until this moment, I was sort of wondering.  But alas!  I've got it!!!! Ready to rock and roll, although the troubled times are not over.
Yoke Complete.  I'm exhausted.  What a puzzle.
Forming shoulders, sleeves, all with the seamless magic that is a Doris Chan design is an art form of rare beauty.  Traditional yarn-wear often involves pieces, as in fabric-formed garments, that must finally be assembled by stitchwork or sewing.  Not this, oh, no.  Last crochet stitch--dress complete!
Well.  It wouldn't be called the Unencumbered Woman if it didn't at least look effortless.  And of course, there are many many days when it feels just that.  Effortless.  Living a life with integrity, appreciating the beauty that is available to us, building something, creating something beautiful, and expressing love and appreciation and support for those people that surround us.

On to the torso, there's a matter of calculation and size.

And then we're back in the throes of midwestern living and Ironman training.  This quiet afternoon spot was one that I stole while on a visit/training ride in beautiful Madison, WI.  I walked around a neighborhood and found a quiet bench behind some fabulous homes.  Lake Monona is incredibly calming as a spot to sit and crochet.  I snuggled up past the two kids who were hawking lemonade and performed my typical no thanks nod as they pushed their wares upon me.  I know it's not always true, but today it was: "why is it the kids with the really huge brand new rehabbed house and the super expensive cars in the driveway with the killer view the ones making money off folks and lemonade?"  But that was the extent of my snark for that moment.  I figure, this is just the beginning for this neighborhood, and I'll be able to say that I saw it when....right before everybody started building really big, perfect houses crowded onto the narrow water-side lots.
Roman Candle Pizza, Madison, WI

Toronto, Ontario

Is it just obnoxious to say that I went from Madison to Toronto in less than a week? Perhaps, but that's how it goes, sometimes, and I'm thrilled for it. By the time I was climbing a giant web and hauling my crochet to the top, I was quite sure that I was practically done with the thing.  Counting necessary, and a bit of sizing work, but for the most part, I was in the homestretch.
The Well, neighborhood
And on to the country cabin in Ontario.  I do believe we stumbled upon the most beautiful place on earth.  I know that British Columbia brags about it on license plates, but that sort of over-hype just isn't necessary here.  Muskoka, Ontario, we all fell in love with you.  And here's a completed dress to prove it!
Lake-water blocking.

A morning on Pine Lake, such as this, just about does it.  Garment is dry, ready for a swim, and as loyal follower can see, I've accumulated some particularly nice CAN bling.  Yes!

Quiver aflutter.

And about the Birkenstocks.  Love my Birkenstocks, and I couldn't go anywhere in Ontario without seeing oodles of folks walking around in Birkenstocks!  Yes!!! I fit right in!!!
Yup. That's a dog.  Spent a delightful week with the two most amazing border collies that one might imagine.  Running with these two put me to shame, and reminded me why we have not right now the time or the inclination to go this route. What a lot of work, and what a lot of running these pups need to do!  Beautiful, smart, athletic.  A dream companion, of course.
Photo session courtesy of Peter.  A trooper, indeed, and he hasn't lost his touch.  Sometimes we're so busy that he's not around when we're shooting for the blog.  It was truly a family vacation, screen-free, that we needed desperately.
If, LF, you think that the hat is the only CAN bling that I picked up on this trip, you are undoubtedly wrong.  There's more, oh, so much more, but the bling that matters most is what we hold near and dear to our heart, and when you start with a vision in the dark of winter and a skein of Soy Silk yarn, the sky's the limit baby. The sky's the limit.

Happy! Proud!


  1. That's really beautiful! I just began working on this pattern for my wedding dress, I'll be making it much longer and plan to add the quiver pattern also on the hem of the dress. I'm only on row three and *astericks* are confusing me :p hopefully, you can be of some assistance to me.

    1. It is a very confusing pattern. It's the sort that I wrote out by hand in order to practice more aggressively and carefully. hosts a number of people who have worked the quiver pattern with oodles of advice and photos. My ravelry is karensn, but if you search the pattern you'll find lots of Doris Chan aficionados with advice. Good luck on your wedding dress!

    2. Thanks much Karen! I had started a forum topic probably a day after I contacted you. Don't know why the idea didn't pop into my head immediately. Anywhoo, I'll find you on Ravelry. So far, I've figured out the yoke on my own, but now I want to alter the v-neck so that it's deeper/a bit more revealing. That's where Ravelry will be helping the most.