My M.O.B. dress

I’ve been actively shopping (and thinking about shopping even longer) for a dress to wear to Jen’s wedding. I equate dress shopping with bathing suit shopping, i.e. no fun at all. Not because of the wedding. Not at all. I’m looking forward to the wedding itself. It’s the business of trying to look appropriate at the wedding that is proving to be such a huge challenge. And it didn’t help that when I was seeking advice from co-workers about where to shop, one of them said, ‘Oh, you have to find MOB dress! Well, good luck with that!” MOB? I asked? “Mother of the Bride dress,” she said.

I hadn’t realized there was a particular style of dress one must wear when one is the mother of the Bride. And I truly had not realized it was the kind of dress that had it’s own acronym. And what an acronym!
Despite all that, I had bravely made a couple attempts to find a dress earlier on with little luck. I’d found beautiful dresses (most of which did not fit or weren’t quite dressy enough and some were just too dressy or simply not my style) and I quickly discovered that most salespeople and I have have very different ideas about what the mother of the bride should wear (though the horrible acronym began to make sense….). I’d found horrible dresses which I’d not even bothered to try.
With time growing short (the wedding is June 4th) I’d set aside the entire Victoria Day weekend to find a dress, and just to make sure I had enough time, took Friday off as well. That, I reasoned, would give me 4 days. Surely I could find a dress in 4 days!
Well, as it turned out I shopped for a bit Friday morning then met a friend for lunch. I confided my shopping woes to her as we ate and she began listing stores: “Have you tried ……? How about …..?” I had tried them all, with the results described above.

Then my wise and delightful friend suggested a store I’d not ever visited. Ever. So right after lunch I went there, and lo and behold…. After trying on several disasters, I found one that was actually pretty good! I’m not sure about rather large mum-like flower pined to the center of the front, but the salesladies seemed to think it was perfect for a wedding event. And especially perfect for a MOB dress.
The salesladies (yes, there was more than one “helping” me select, try on, and display the four dresses I ended up trying on at the shop–they, of course, loved each and every single one. I, however, liked only the one. The others were described as making me look “sophisticated” which may well be the case, but they certainly looked nothing like anything else I’d ever worn or even imagined or hoped to wear). I love this dress. It’s silk. It has flirty little layers that make it fun to wear. It has a removable little jacket, and can be easily dressed up or dressed down so it’s even something I can wear over and over. I love it!
Anyway, back to my point… the salesladies suggested I needed black pearls to wear with this dress. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen black pearls, but I dutifully went to a few jewelry stores to see if they had any and quickly realized that pearls of any colour were a little more costly than what I was imagining my own self wearing! But then I found this beauty:

pewter and pearls…
This photo does not do them justice, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder so you might not be as smitten as I, but I LOVE this necklace and like the dress, can see that I’ll wear it many times over.
I even have the perfect pair of sandals. Black strappy affairs, that are somewhat gladiator-like so they’re in perfect style, but not so gladiator-like that they can’t be worn when the current fad is over. And I have a little silk clutch, to boot.
As it turns out, I did not need 4 days. I only needed one good friend and one afternoon!
… now all I have to do is finish the Bride’s shawl… (one and a half repeats left, then weave the middle seam, then block. By gosh, I think I’ll make it!) …
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Wedding Shawl

“The” shawl to date. I’ve completed 1.25 repeats. It’s a 40 row repeat over some 125 sts plus and additional 6 -12 on each side for the edging. I will do 16 repeats, then put these stitches on a holder and repeat the process again. Each half will measure approximately 40 inches. When they’re both done, I will weave the two halves together. That join will form the center, so that both sides fall to the front allowing the pattern to be the same on both sides. The pattern is a one way pattern, which means if I don’t knit it two halves the way I’ve described, you’d have one straight end (like the one you see here on the needles) and one with the lovely scallops, like you see at the lower end in the picture. The idea is to have scallops at both ends. I’m not sure I’ve explained that well, but I hope it’s clear. I must say I’m happy with how it’s turning out. I find there’s always a certain period of uncertainty about a lace or cable project until the pattern actually makes itself visible.

I do love watching the pattern emerge: I think that’s a big part of what I find so enjoyable about knitting lace or cables or colourwork. Seeing the pattern take shape and then grow out of simple manipulations of those loops of yarn held on a pointy stick just never fail to fascinate and enchant me. We do these things, we human beings. We take rock and find ways to drag it about, to cut into it and shape it and pile it one on top of the other in majestic columns, graceful arches… and we take colour, add it to various medium so it’s smearable and then we do just that, we smear it onto canvas, wood, and other surfaces so we can express our thoughts and feelings and observations of the world around us. Knitting is like that, for me. It’s the looping of long string over point sticks, and manipulating those loops in ways that represent waves or sky or simply just re-create sensations of calm (like the rippling cables in the sweater-wrap I knit earlier this winter) or, like this shawl, representations of core elements like leaves or waves, and in a medium that is light and airy, and blending those things together so that we feel both grounded and elevated when looking at it.
I subscribe too much to a knitted object, perhaps. But then again, maybe I don’t. The yarn is so fine (lace-weight, baby alpaca) it sometimes feels like I’m knitting a frothy cloud, and until I block it, that’s pretty much what it looks like. But when I smooth it out so the pattern becomes visible, I see leaves (it is called Autumn arbour, and so is meant to evoke images of falling leaves) but it also reminds me of waves, perhaps because the wedding I am knitting it for will be held on a ship in the Halifax Harbour. Weddings are, by definition, frothy and fairy tale events. But they are also foundations for many families and for our society.
I wasn’t thinking all this when I started knitting this shawl, nor am I always thinking about it while I’m knitting. These thoughts are too weighty and would add a heaviness to both the process and the shawl that neither can bear. But every once in a while, when I pause to look at it, these are the sensations that hoover in the very back of my mind, and while I won’t often pull them to the forefront in the same way I have now, I’m glad they’re there.

Anticipation…

My daughter is getting married in June, in a big boat that will be floating out in the Halifax harbour. It’s going to be lovely. Lovely, and probably a bit chilly … probably about 15 celcius, which means the bride, who will be wearing a lovely off the shoulder gown, will need something to put over her to ward off the cold. Something that won’t detract from the beauty of her gown and of the occasion. And it’s been driving me crazy! A sweater just didn’t seem right…

But I finally hit on it. I’ve never knit a shawl before, but isn’t this the perfect time to start one? But I was hesitant. Should I really try something new for such an important event? I wasn’t sure, so I signed up and took the first session of a two-parter workshop on Knitted Lace for Beginners at Mouline here in Montreal. I learned that lace is all about yarn-overs and knit 2 togethers, and ssk … then it hit me. I’ve knitted lace before. Rosita is lace!!
And I learned that lace is also all about using techniques such as provisional cast-ons so you can avoid cast-ons and cast-offs so your lace stays loose and flexible. and I learned how to do that earlier this winter when I was knitting fingerless gloves from Vogue’s holiday magazine!!

Which means I’m not risking anything. I know how to do this already. All I need is a pattern, and time, and Jen’s approval!
I got the pattern the Autumn Arbor Shawl, which Jennifer and I both love, I have the yarn (Misti Baby Alpaca Lace) and since it’s only February now and the wedding is in June, I also have the time.
So why am I not knitting yet? Because I’m waiting for the swatch I knit so Jen can give final approval to yarn and colour, to be delivered by snail mail to her house!!!! You know, I should have sent it courier. These fingers are just itching to get started on it ….