When I was recently asked to knit a garment, I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t say no for many reasons. First off, it was a friend who asked. I will call her Mom. The garment was to be a cape and I love capes. A wedding cape! Who doesn’t love a wedding? This wedding was her daughter’s. I happen to know the bride well as she was also a student of mine, a diligent, hard-working, serious student I remember from many, many years ago. This former student is now an adult and working her way through the leadership ranks of the service and getting married at West Point, of course! Who isn’t proud of someone who has met with professional success? Who wouldn’t be honored to have their knitting worn by another and their talent of craftsmanship chosen for the task? Hence, I said yes to the cape project and so, we began.
I don’t know if it is wise or not to knit for someone else. Can’t you just imagine a myriad of potential disasters that could arise but I will say, if for no other reason but to remind myself (if I should take this on again), why this project did work at this time and for this friend.
Make and share the schedule for completion. When the decision to knit this garment was set, the very first thing I did was map out the steps towards completion on a calendar. I left a reasonable amount of time for each step with an entire month at the end for alterations. There would be no last minute knitting or decision-making. Since the bride knew she wanted a cover-up, cape style, and in the color navy, we were leaps and bounds ahead in the time factor. So, we really only needed to plan when I had to have the yarn in my hands and the time I needed to actually knit the project leaving that must-have one month window available at the end for unforeseen issues and/or alterations.
Be flexible to allow for ‘surprises’. I will not deny there was a day (or two) I freaked. I was not aware that during the time frame of knitting the project, Mom was going on a trip to visit the bride and wanted to take the project with her. Somehow, this did not come up in the planning stages. Did I say the bride was not local? It caused me to knit like a fiend, the very thing I was trying to avoid. I was able to knit up pretty close to the collar before her departure however I really wanted to finish all the cabling so as not to forget the pattern and the math I was calculating. Minor alterations meant we were going off pattern. I did not succeed in getting to the collar like I had hoped before Mom’s travels, therefore I took copious notes. How I calmed myself down about the interruption was by looking at the situation differently. If Mom was taking the project, this would give the bride a chance to try it on. If alterations needed to be taken, better at mid-point than in the end. Also, I had left that month window at the end for such surprises. I was not angry as I think so much is taken for granted and we all live such busy lives, that this was simply a slip up in communication, pretty much the definition of ‘surprises’.
Assign a contact person. This is like the saying, “too many cooks in the kitchen . . .” Brides are very busy especially if they are professional people working throughout the planning stages of their wedding. So, Mom informed me that she was the go-to person. This immediately made it clear to me who to contact when a decision needed to be made or a measurement was needed or a question arose. It also kept all three of us on the same page. This chain of command worked perfectly. I will add that it also helps when the people for whom you are working are able to make and keep their decisions.
Give input or opinion but ultimately listen to what the bride wants. Aside from some minor size adjustments, we followed the pattern pretty closely except for one detail. The pattern calls for a double-breasted closure. I could not see past this while the bride thought one row of buttons along the edge was what she wanted. This would give an asymmetric look which was what she was after and I did think snaps could hold the overlap underneath in its place. She was so sure of this and it continued to be difficult for me to see. My feelings, aside we did what she asked. One row of buttons and buttonholes, two snaps on the inside so the overlap did not hang below the hemline. Also, it took awhile for me to accept the navy blue as a wedding color but look how beautiful she looks. And, that new hubby, too!
Keep in constant contact/communication. Right at the beginning Mom and I exchanged numbers. We shared with each other our preferred communication method. I believe, however we used every device known to man today through this process. True story ~ I recall calling Mom on the phone when I was in her driveway! Lots of words of encouragement, support, photographs, even praying was shared between us. I cannot say enough how this constant communication was so helpful and added to the success of the project.
There was the month at the end as planned. It was so peaceful and comfortable and I had long moved on to another project. I could not wait until the wedding day. How sweet it was to view these beautiful pictures. I have to say I loved helping the bride create the look she was after and love knowing this knitted piece has now become part of the memory she will always have of her wedding day.
Please note: Photo credits to Amy Paulson/Photography.