The quest for sheen begins

silk and cotton yarn samples
Silk lace-weight yarn to the left. On the right, cotton and bamboo blend.

The search for the right fibre for the wedding dress recreation is underway.

For the first time ever, I find myself trying to knit with silk in the quest for a sheen to match the lovely shine of a vintage wedding dress dating from 1911.

The lace-weight silk yarn in my test swatch has a lovely shine. I’ve never worked with silk before, so it feels a bit awkward, a bit too thin somehow. I’m so used to knitting with worsted-weight wool, my hands feel clumsy.

I’ve been experimenting with needle sizes and types, trying to see what feels right. The bamboo needles seem to work best with the silk.

I’m going to switch to stockinette stitch and smaller needles for the next silk sample, as the tension doesn’t feel right as it is — too loose somehow.

The cotton and bamboo blend is comfortable to work with and comes off the needles easily. The next step, i think would be to knit a full size bodice triangle (see the wedding dress image).

knitted dress
Wedding dress created by knitting designer Nicki Epstein. The dress has been pieced together using swatches of various patterns. (Photo is the property of Nicki Epstein)

In case you are wondering about this idea… the original idea came from an image I saw on Facebook posted by knitting designer Nicki Epstein. She created a wedding dress from swatches of various needlework pattern swatches.

This made me think about doing something similar with swatches of needlework patterns based on vintage textiles from the Huron County Museum’s collection. I knew I would need an overall dress pattern to follow. I’m not a seamstress so I knew I’d have to buy one or copy one.

Wedding dress from the collection of the Huron County Museum & Historic Gaol
Wedding dress worn by Frances Mason in 1911 when she married William Watson. The wedding took place in Blyth, Ontario. (Photo courtesy of the Huron County Museum & Historic Gaol)

After a visit to the museum and a browse through their database of images, I found a wedding dress to use as the basic pattern. You can see more images of the 1911 dress by reading my last post.

Now, the fun part is underway as I try to find and experiment with possible fibres to use in the swatch creations.

Interested in joining me? I’d welcome other stitchers for the various swatch creations.  Wondering what pattern to stitch up as a swatch? Have a look at my previous posts… I’ve shared images of the various heirloom textiles in the museum’s collection. I’m sure you’d find an item that would inspire you.

I’m a knitter with basic skills and so I’m always learning. I’d like to figure out how the stitchers of old created the items (technique, pattern, fibre) and then re-create a series of patterns for the museum’s archives that correspond to each of their collection items. What could be more fun than piecing the swatches together when done to create a wearable work of art. The dress could then be auctioned off and proceeds donated to a good cause.

Once I get an idea on the right fibre to use, I’ll be back with another update.

Feel like joining me and stitching some history? I’d love the company.

See you next time.

Thanks for stopping in & have a great day! 🙂

Happy stitching!