Friday, May 24, 2013

Goldihooks at Pemberley

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who learned how to crochet.  She began with scarves and hats.  She provided a steady supply of slippers for her family.  She tried her hand at baby sweaters and afghans, then moved on to big sweaters and afghans.  She had a lot of fun with amigurumi.  But Goldihooks was quite certain that she would never, ever crochet a dress.  It just seemed like a bad idea.  

Until, that is, she met the "Afternoon at Pemberley" pattern.  She fell in love at first sight, and knew that she would never be satisfied until she had tried it.  So she ordered some yarn, bought a new hook, and began a new adventure.

In Austentatious Crochet: 36 Contemporary Designs from the World of Jane Austen, Melissa Horozewski presents enticing patterns along with facts about Jane Austen, art from her era, and fanciful interactions between Miss Austen and her characters.  They are not period patterns, as crochet had yet to become fashionable in England, but they are designed with the Regency aesthetic in mind.  And they are beautiful.  

I love lace, and was excited to see a lacy pattern made with macroscopic yarn.  Thread crochet still scares me, and the "silky bamboo blend" of Caron Spa yarn sounded delicious.  I knew this dress would be a good challenge, and I wanted to do it right.  So, for the first time ever, I made a gauge swatch.  The pattern called for the swatch itself to be blocked and pressed.  This was a tiresome part of the project, as I really wanted to just jump into the pattern.  But it is a good thing I was patient.  I ended up making three gauge swatches before finding the right hook size.  When I crocheted with the prescribed F hook, the stitches were too small.  When I tried the G hook, they were still too small.  Finally I tried the H hook, and it was just right.  So I crocheted, and I crocheted, and I crocheted.  And I renewed the book at the library a couple of times.


 A wonderful thing about making one's own clothes is customization.  Once one gets started, this is a long, straight pattern.  I figured out how to add an increase where I needed it, and also devised some short sleeves.  When it was long enough, I wet blocked the dress (another first!), and waited and waited for it to dry.  

Then I killed it.  Or I tried, to, anyway.  The directions included pressing the crocheted fabric to add shine and improve drape.  When I sought more information, I learned that this technique is commonly called "killing," and evokes the same sort of emotions that word brings in more literal contexts.  "Don't kill your acrylic," the naysayers warn.  "It will never bounce back again."  Interestingly, that convinced me.  I don't want to block the thing ever again.  So I pressed it, gently, under a cloth.  The jury is still out on whether I succeeded.  I'm not ready to wash it yet and find out.

I used one of my favorite patterns, Simplicity 2965, to sew a simple underdress with Casa Crepe in Celadon.  It is a shame, when a pattern actually includes pockets, to eliminate them.  But I would not be able to use pockets through the lace, so I left them out. 

"But what shall you have by way of necklace?" I could hear Miss Crawford asking Fanny (Mansfield Park, chapter 26).  I picked up this pendant at the local gem and mineral show a couple of years ago, and planned to do something with it, but hadn't gotten around to it.  When I saw that it matched the green dress so well, I knew it was time.  I didn't want the pendant to hang on a chain that might catch the lace.  So I strung it on some stretchy cord, with some oval amazonite beads, some small silverish beads, and really cheap plastic pearls from a package I'd never opened.  I'm not sure why I had them, but they worked well here.  Then I strung a green ribbon through the lace to emphasize the Empire style, and my outfit was complete.
So Goldihooks put on the crocheted dress, and it was just right.  She wore it happily, and looked forward to crocheting ever after.

I'm entering this project into the Signature Look Sew-along challenge at Project Sewn.  Is this my signature look?  Well, I certainly don't wear a dress like this every day.  But it is normal for me to wear something I've made, my own take on a classic style, regardless of trends.  And I think this outfit is pretty unique, just like my signature.  So I'll claim it!  Check out the other signature looks, and be sure to vote for your favorite on Friday!


  1. Wow! I'm impressed. It does have a sort of Jane Austen appeal. I can't even sew straight, so the thought of what you've accomplished is amazing to me. Lovely dress.

  2. I LOVE it and wish I had a dress like that! It is gorgeous and you are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO talented! Can't wait to see what you make next! :o)

  3. I would be sew nervous sewing with that. Your are brave and the dress is impressive.

  4. Your dress is absolutely beautiful. Great job! ~Major Moma

  5. Very well done, and very creative! I'm glad you shared this on Project Sewn.

  6. Your dress is amazing!

  7. What a perfect example of a signature look. I love it!