Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Springfield Dress

 

Again with this. There are things I want to make to just go in my wardrobe, that are neutral, subdued. Things with dignity. New York things. All evidence to the contrary, I somehow have a notion of myself as something of a sophisticated person, never mind the hair, someone who wears a black turtleneck and sunglasses, and who might go to a gallery opening or something, if there were pictures of dogs, maybe. Black and white photography. Kind of grown up. Then there are things like this dress that are knocking on the inside of my head, inexplicable garments that say WAH! KNIT ME! I am COLORFUL! And I am powerless. I just get a jones to make something weird. Which reminds me that the one time I've been to a gallery opening it was to an exhibit of my own work, and also at the same time the work of some eighth graders, and the eighth graders were one after another selling their art (to their parents) and I was just standing there eating all the cheese and crackers.

It is time to come to terms with that dichotomy, ya'll. I will knit for fashion, and I will also knit for art. There is room for both--there is necessity for both--in my knitting life. I am gonna let you decide which one this is. This is the Springfield Dress, my own design, made while thinking of spring fields, and also Dusty Springfield. Also, The Buffalo Springfield. Naturally.

I was inspired, a few years ago, by Lori Graham's beautiful version of Gudrun Johnston's Bressay Dress, with its miles of stockinette and simple patterned yoke, its cozy comfy-ness, but hesitated to begin one because yoke-style shaping is such a fit struggle for me. I also remember having a kind of open-mouthed reaction to Misa Erder's incredible Owl and the Pussycat Dress (shadows of inspiration from that one, I am just now realizing, have already showed up in my As We Go Along project) and I mentally filed all this stuff away to percolate. I also began to pay attention to how much I liked the way that when I tried on a top-down raglan sweater-in-progress, the unfinished armhole made a handy little cap sleeve that fit me and flattered my arm. Many times, I thought about simply leaving a top-down garment sleeveless altogether, because I loved the way it looked. Why not? Others must have done this, too.

I imagined a go-go dancer dress, short-but-not-too-short, to wear in spring or fall, with boots. I imagined a seventies palette, in mustard and mauve and rose. I imagined a not-quite all over stranded stitch pattern, something with flower motifs, big ones and small ones, that felt like I had seen it before, maybe in a Holly Hobbie dress in elementary school. All knit top-down, with raglan shaping because I like to knit that way, and because the finished garments fit me well.

I decided to make a design-as-you-go, custom fit, top-down-raglan sixties-style go-go dancer dress in worsted yarn with stranded colorwork. You know, as you do. I chose my palette--Plymouth Galway Khaki, Dream in Color Classy "Amber Glass", Jill Makes Stuff Windham "Wax Bean" and some remnants of pinks; Cascade 220, Ella Rae Classic, Patons Classic hand-dyed by me with avocado pits (the heathery pink). I swatched (yes!) measured myself (you have to!) calculated the neckline, figured out how to center the motifs and drew some charts, and commenced the thing. And loved it immediately, and also wondered why. WHY? Is the world clamoring for more of this kind of thing? Are they lining up outside the fancy shops, asking for a flowery patterned wool tunic dress with short cap sleeves? Am I? I worried about the stripes, second-guessed myself a few times which is totally my way and which I have come to recognize as part of my process, and pressed on through all kinds of yearning for plain gray clothes. I thought about Kaffe Fassett, and about something Kay said recently, that he does not concern himself with ease of knitting, but with creating beauty. Knitting as art, again. For a quick and inspiring taste of Kaffe, check this out.
There is beauty in choosing colors, blending them together, in yarn itself and in knitting it; in figuring out things that are tricky, and in being your own weird self and letting it show.

I don't know about anybody else, but I love this Springfield Dress, LOVE IT. And since it's for me, that's just fine.

 

48 comments:

  1. Didn't you just start this dress like a week ago? It is amazing. Springy and fresh without being cutesy. Great job, Kristen.

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  2. It's beautiful and amazing. Since I can basically knit a fantastic square or triangle, I am really in awe.

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  3. Your dress is an absolute knock out! Wish I weren't all crooky-hands with knitting.. *sighs*

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  4. Love it and it suits you so much!

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  5. Wow, just amazing! Yes, I guess its more of a statement piece than the cool, sophisticated black number but what a statement. It's brilliant, well done!

    S x

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  6. That is one amazing dress. I think it is beautiful and I hear some of your knitting musing about creating something special - I knit a black cardigan earlier this year and then thought towards the end - What the f*** for??? I can knit, I can do this special thing so I should knit special things for myself. I can buy a black cardigan and use my life to make creative things. Anyway... I love it too and top down raglan short sleeves before you pick up to knit them long suit me too, I do it loads!! Jo XX

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  7. i now officially have severe needle envy , sadly i would need to knit this 2 feet wider ..lol

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  8. I am in awe of your skill, it really is a fest for the eyes, beautiful.

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  9. This is incredibly beautiful and also incredibly nice to read. Thank you a lot for sharing!

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  10. Love your blog and LOVE THIS DRESS!!! How do you manage to finish garments ( in short periods of time or at all!) I still have just the arm and left front, of a cardigan I started for a 6 month old - he will be 30 in a fortnight! I'm v impressed with your talent!

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  11. Hi Kristen! Wow, what a dress! And it is totally made for you, suits you so well! I love all your thinking that went into your design and then make out something so stunning! I could easily picture you in a black/Smokey grey/heather version as well!

    Thank you so much for sharing! You are a true inspiration!!!
    Love, Ingrid xx
    Myfunkycrochet.blogspot.be

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  12. I think it looks stunning on you. It's a gorgeous dress!

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  13. Your Dress is so beautiful!!!

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  14. Kristen, you have created a very beautiful dress, and expressed yourself throughout the design and knitting. The mix of subtle flowers and striping is perfectly done. You look grand!

    Isn't it fun to dive into a project, as an exploration of what you know you can do, mixed up with some new directions, Finding that the knitting path is encouraging you to proceed is such a delight.

    Bravo! xo

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  15. I REALLY LOVE IT! and it looks so cute on you!! Being able to knit something like that seems magical to me :)

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  16. I read but never comment! Dusty Springfield, Buffalo Springfield! How about Rod Stewart--You Wear it Well! Not only is it a beautiful pattern, but also, you could be on Hullabaloo or Shindig--was that one of those shows? I date myself! I digress. You make that dress shine. Just sayin!

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  17. WOW. It's beautiful, and I am beyond impressed. Enjoy wearing it!

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  18. The Springfield dress is simply beautiful and really suits you. That is most definitely your style. Jackie

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  19. it's really juicy, I love it.

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  20. This dress has "Kristen" all over it. It's hard sometimes,to get past the second guessing and keep on with the vision. Great color combo and knitting skills my dear. Your dress is a work of art! Pass the cheese and crackers.

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  21. So gloriously personal, springlike, and fun! And totally fit for any New York gallery opening.

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  22. Well that's easy, it is both art and fashion. It's not kooky or weird just a great dress and really wearable. What's not to love and you look so good in it.
    Sara

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  23. Well....WOW! Just WOW! You look wonderful in your more than fabulous dress. You, my dear, are an artiste...with an "e"! I am in awe.........LOVE.

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  24. Mmm! Mustard! Rose! Mauve! Gorgeous colours, and very much you, I think. Reminds me a little of Welsh woven blankets. Lovely! Jen

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  25. That is just gorgeous. I mean GOR-GE-OUS!

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  26. You and the dress are fantastic! It looks wonderful on you! Go you!
    Karen

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  27. That is a beautiful dress. You are beautiful in that dress! Oh my goodness, I wish I could wear something this gorgeous.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  28. You look fantastic, and I just love your hair!!! It is a beautiful dress and certainly has a 60's/70's vibe to it. and yes, I agree with several of the other comments, You are an ARTIST!!!

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  29. It is so pretty.... And you look awesome in it

    Cielo

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  30. Wow...wow...this is fabulous. I mean really something. Love it!

    Debra

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  31. I love everything about this post. The dress, the thinking behind it, everything. Well done!

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  32. I love everything about this post. The dress, the thinking behind it, everything. Well done!

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  33. My God O.O Amazing! I love the colours, daisies, gorgeous pattern! Beautiful :)

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  34. Gorgeous! Love the design and the colours, as usual you got it spot on!
    Gill xx

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  35. it's weird…I don't knit, crochet or sew, but i had a bout of illness this year and last (nothing major) and your blog was hugely cheering. I love how you write, and am constantly amazed at your creative output.

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  36. I think it is a fabulous dress, and a great conversation starter!!!

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  37. I think it is a fabulous dress, and a great conversation starter!!!

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  38. Wow! Love it and it is fascinating to hear about the thinking process. I am not sure my knitting will ever be up to making something like this but it is inspirational anyway!

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  39. man, you do such great work.

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  40. Very Carnaby Street. And fab colours.

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  41. Thank you for sharing the post.kindly visit us @ tattoo thoughts

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