WIP-Cracking Wednesdays: The Never-Ending Skirt

So I spent all day today sorting through my WIPs and figuring out what steps need to be taken before I can declare them FOs. It was a sobering process. You guys, I have 39 WIPs. Thirty-Nine. Ugh. Let the WIP-shaming begin!

I know I said I’d post my five oldest WIPs, but the oldest WIPs I have are old for a reason…they’re all a little complicated, and they all have stories. To avoid bombarding you with a 8,000 word post, I’m going to restrict this post to just one WIP. It’s not quite the oldest WIP, it’s the third oldest, but it’s the oldest one I have right now that has a clear path to FO-hood. It’s The Skirt.

It all started waaaaay back in 2005 when I had just learned how to knit and was venturing into more advanced territory. I found a free pattern for a lovely lace skirt on elann.com called the Luna Flickering Flames Skirt and showed it to my friends. One of my non-knitter friends fell in love with it and offered to pay me to knit it for her. So I did.

Now, that was a lot of knitting. Especially considering I had never knit lace before. I powered through it with little difficulty though, it just took a while.

The blocking of this skirt, I’m certain, transported me into a special circle of hell. I was very new to blocking, and there were very few resources available to me at that time to show me how it was properly done. I just winged it. And, me being me, that meant doing it in the most complicated way possible. I pinned open every. single. hole. You read that right. Every single YO on that entire skirt got a pin in it. I now know that was entirely unnecessary, though it did result in a very nice crisp flame-like lace pattern.

Anyway, this is not the WIP I’m talking about. The WIP was born when I decided, despite the agony that the Flickering Flames Skirt caused me, that I wanted one too. I did try to learn from my mistakes. I still didn’t know anything about blocking, but I did know I wanted to use a different lace pattern that perhaps I wouldn’t be so picky about pinning so precisely. I ordered more yarn, swatched some different lace patterns and settled on the Horseshoe Lace pattern, as seen in elann’s Aran Weight Lace Cropped Cardigan. I then adapted that design to the basic structure of the Flickering Flames Skirt which was based on Elizabeth Zimmerman‘s Pi formula for knitting a circle. This was my very first design!

Again, it was a long slog through the knitting. I think it took me a couple of years to get through the body of the skirt. Then came the edging. In order to get the look I wanted, with the pattern continuing into the edge by creating dramatic points, I had to break the yarn, knit the point, tie off the end, and then reconnect the yarn for the next point. I’m sure I counted how many points there were at one time, but I wiped that number from my memory to protect my own sanity. Let’s just say there were eleven-billionty point, because that’s what it felt like. I think the edging took me another couple of years to complete. I only know that they were done by 2010 when I entered the project into the Ravelympics WIPs Dancing Event in hopes that would motivate me to finish it. It didn’t. Here’s what it looked like in 2010.

Eleven-billionty x2 ends to weave in. Kill me now.

All I had left to do was weave in the ends, block it, and sew beads onto the points. Sounds easy right? Well it would be, if the skirt wasn’t so freaking huge. Each of those points had two ends to weave in – one where the yarn was joined, and one where the yarn was tied off. Then I had to tackle the blocking process. I had already determined that I would NOT be going to that special circle of hell again, but it’s still a giant circle that I have to lay out on the floor somewhere and be able to leave it undisturbed for a few days while it dries. Back when I did the Flickering Flames Skirt I had my own two-bedroom apartment and the blocking was done in the spare bedroom. In 2010 I was living a basement slum in my then-boyfriend’s parent’s house with practically zero space to call my own. Now I live in a tiny house with my mom and sister and four cats, and the words “floor space” are greeted with a head-tilt as if one were hearing a foreign language.

I did start weaving in the ends during the 2010 Ravelympics, but I didn’t finish it in time. I continued weaving in ends off and on over the next year. Sometime last year I moved everything out of half of my bedroom and blocked the skirt with the aid of blocking wires – SO much easier than my made-up blocking process for the Flickering Flames Skirt.

During the blocking process I discovered to my horror that one of the points hadn’t been properly tied it off and it had started coming undone. I hadn’t left very much of a tail on the end (another rookie mistake from my early knitting days coming back to haunt me) so I couldn’t just pick it up and re-knit it. I stuck a stitch holder on it and decided I would deal with it later.

Then there are the beads. Way back in 2006 when I designed this thing, I had zero knowledge of how one could incorporate beads into knitting. I just knew I wanted beads at the ends of the points and it never occurred to me to think about how impractical it would be to actually DO that with a DK weight yarn. Once the skirt was blocked I was thrilled with how it looked! I tried it on hoping against hope that I would be able to live without the beads, but no. The points seem too…floppy? They need the weight of a bead at the ends to make it lay the way I want it to.

So, this is where the skirt stands. There’s a point that needs repairing, and I may only be able to do it by sewing since I no longer have the extra yarn. I gave it away, like an idiot. Then I have eleven-billionty beads to sew on each point, and you know what? I HATE sewing. I’ll just have to suck it up though, because when it’s done, this skirt is going to be GORGEOUS.

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7 thoughts on “WIP-Cracking Wednesdays: The Never-Ending Skirt

  1. I remember that skirt being blocked, and seeing you down on your hands and knees pinning it and cursing. And cursing some more when you went and bought more pins because there weren’t enough. for. every. single. friggin. hole. At that point I’d never blocked in my life. And thought you were insane. The skirt is gorgeous though.

    And the new one will also be gorgeous. As inspiration to finish it, you could sketch a great pic of yourself in it after it’s done, and post it in a place you’ll see it (works for me with exercising). You could also work on it, and reward yourself with x-amount of rows on a fun knitting project when you get x-amount of work on the skirt done. Such as “weave in 15 ends, get to knit 5 rows on hat” and go back and forth between the two until the skirt is done.

    I agree with you though; I hate sewing, and avoid having to do as much as I can.

  2. Aaaaw–my skirt! I remember the days of the epic blocking of doom too. You needed all your pins and all my pins and then yet more pins. Didn’t the cost of the pins add 50% more to the price of making the skirt or something ridiculous like that? That may have been the day you discovered T-pins….

    Still have the skirt–lovely as ever! I’m glad you never have to be that insane about blocking again though. Even if you have replaced blocking-insanity with beading-insanity. 😉

    • Yeah, I think it was something like 50%, and yes, it was my first encounter with T-pins! I didn’t buy a ton of those cause they were more expensive, but they sure were nicer to work with! And I’ve never needed to buy pins again…

      The part that kills me looking back on it was that I TOTALLY DIDN’T HAVE TO DO THAT. It would have looked just as pretty if I had pinned each circle-layer and left all the yarn-overs alone! *Sigh* at least now I know better.

  3. Pingback: Lending Support to the Knotty Narwhal | Jessica's Yarn Tales

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