Chiagu Blog

Finally: The Chuppah Post

Posted on December 30, 2008 | 11 Comments

I'm not quite sure why it's taken me so long to sit down and write about this. It feels silly to feel so much emotion towards a piece of fabric . . . I'm not usually the soft-and-fuzzy type, so it's especially out of character for me to feel this way. I can't quite explain what it is that stopped me from writing, or that's making writing it now so hard, but the closest I can get to a description is that knitting this chuppah felt like giving birth to something. I think what I was "birthing" was my spiritual life. I have never been a religious person and our wedding was the first time I really thought about what I believe in, what rituals mean, and made a conscious decision to think and care about these questions. The chuppah symbolizes the home the couple will build together but this chuppah, handmade with my own hands and skills, also symbolized my creating a home for us.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it "perfect," even though I knew that I would be the only one who could possibly see any imperfections. I chose the Frost Flowers & Leaves Shawl pattern from Gathering of Lace for 2 reasons based on the fact that I'd already knit it once before:

  1. Since I'd already knit it, I knew I could do it and that I really enjoyed knitting the lace
  2. After finishing the first shawl I felt it was the most beautiful piece of knitting I'd ever accomplished. I wanted our chuppah to be that beautiful, too.

When it came time to block the thing, after rushing through the knitting worrying about blowing my deadline (I overcompensated and finished months early), I procrastinated and procrastinated until practically the last minute. I remembered blocking the first one and how much work it was, and was honestly dreading doing it again this time. And wouldn't you know it, all that worry was warranted! The border didn't quite fit and required massive amounts of pinning and re-pinning the blocking wires. After over a hour of struggling with it I called it quits and decided it wasn't going to get any better.

In this picture, you can kind of see the problem (you can also see how ugly the border join is, but don't look too hard please!). I think what happened is that my row gauge for the border was too loose, so there was too much fabric all around in comparison to the middle. Since the yarn I used isn't as stretchy as most lace yarns, when I pulled and pulled at the middle lace section, it only opened up so much. There was no way it was going to stretch enough to compensate for the border's oversized proportions. I hoped it wouldn't be too obvious and let the thing dry on my parent's living room rug.

Then, the day before the wedding, I realized that i hadn't yet figured out how to attach the chuppah to the poles. We'd borrowed the poles a few days earlier from Adam's family's temple, at which point I found out that the poles were not wooden-colored like I expected, they had been wrapped in white ribbon. Now, most people are probably happy to find out that the chuppah poles have been lovingly covered with white satin ribbon. Me, I freaked out! The white was WHITE, and my chuppah was off-white. In all my planning, I had imagined that I would attach my off-white chuppah to the wooden-colored poles using clear fishing line, to give the impression that there was no seam at all. When I saw the white-white poles, I knew I couldn't let my chuppah directly touch the poles because next to the bright-white, my chuppah would look dirty.

This is what I came up with as a compromise:

You can see just how white the poles are in this picture!

I ended up using some of the purple ribbon left over from our favors to tie long lengths connecting the chuppah to the poles. It actually ended up looking purposeful, since the wedding colors were white/cream and purple and the chuppah and poles ended up perfectly matching the color scheme! I originally thought I was going to tie the ends of the ribbons into bows, but it looked too sugary-sweet. Leaving the long ties looked a little circus-y if you looked from up close, but from far away it looked just right.

And the too-big edging? It proved to be a problem after all. No matter how far apart the poles were spread, the chuppah never lay flat. All 4 sides dropped down even though the middle was as taunt as possible. I actually didn't get to see the chuppah planters get set up because I was hiding (which, by the way, I think is a ridiculous wedding "tradition," but when I peeked my face out I got MOBBED by people and learned why women hide from a practical perspective!), but I gave the florist strict instructions to place them as far apart as possible so the chuppah would be as flat as possible. In the end, the thing wasn't flat at all, and the poles leaned in at a precarious angle from all the strain they were under.

But you know what? Everyone thought every single one of these things was done on purpose, and I got nothing but compliments!

But then again, no one's going to tell the bride her hand-made chuppah looks anything but perfect, right?

Project specs:
Pattern: Frost Flowers & Leaves Shawl from A Gathering of Lace, with fewer repeats to adjust for bigger gauge
Yarn: 11 skeins Green Mountain Spinnery Sylvan Spirit, in Luminosity
Needles: US size 6
Started: January 2008
Finished: March 2008 (knitting), June 2008 (blocking/finishing)

(all pictures except the yarn end one copyright Laurie Rhodes Photography)

Posted in chuppah, Finished Knitting Projects, knitting, lace, wedding

Pictures are up!

Posted on September 18, 2008 | 0 Comments

Here's my favorite of Anne, dancing like crazy as usual:

The whole Seattle group is here, if you're interested. There are 3 sets: Wedding, Aquarium, and Market.

Man I love my new camera.

Posted in knitting, wedding, wedding pictures

Wedding Talk: Bridal Shower

Posted on June 11, 2008 | 1 Comment

My bridal shower was a week and a half ago, and I had so much fun! My FMIL, Laurie, and my best friend, Anne, hosted together, and they were very nice in listening to my requests (namely to minimize kitsch, ruffles, and silly games). We ended up with a fun party with lots of women talking, eating, and getting to know eachother. At the end, when almost everyone had left, I felt comfortable enough to open my gifts . . . that's when Anne pounced and did this to my head:

In the grand scheme of bridal showers this is nothing, of course, but I did also have to wear a sequin tiara during most of the party AND we played a newly-wed-style game . . . in which I only got 50% of the questions right. I groaned and whined a lot but I had tons of fun! (of course!)

Then this is what I spent this past Sunday doing:

I bought the flower Thank You notes specifically for shower gifts and the script ones for other gifts, but ended up using the flower ones for everyone because they are nicer, heavier cards. I also bought a bunch of Thank You notes that match our invitations, I'm planning to use those notes for wedding presents that arrive from now on . . . and I totally realize almost no one will notice or care what is on the cover of the note, but I care! So I went a little overboard. This whole wedding thing has made me fall in love with stationery all over again. I think in another life I might have ended up a graphic designer!

So there's only a little more than a month left to the big day! I had my first dress fitting yesterday, my veil has arrived, we've ordered rings, booked transportation . . . when we first started planning I was worried about all the big things, but now it's the million little things that have my head spinning! It's amazing how many small details there are that keep coming up . . . but we're on the home stretch, now!

Posted in bridal shower, knitting, thank yous, wedding

Wedding Talk: Burried in paper

Posted on May 28, 2008 | 1 Comment

Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone! We spent it up at Brown and outside of Boston, attending a wonderful wedding. Seems like all we ever do anymore is go to weddings or plan our own!

Speaking of which, I am currently knee-deep in invitation prep. See?

I've sorted everything, Adam stamped the RSVP envelopes, and then I started working on the envelopes. I had planned to hand-calligrapher the envelopes myself, knowing all along that I was taking on a huge project. I'd been practicing for months, I bought special pens, a light box, and I was sure I knew what I was doing.

Unfortunately, I "forgot" all about my carpal tunnel problems. After I'd done the first 5 envelopes (about half of which required one or more redos), my hand had cramped up something fierce. Plus, the envelopes just didn't look professional enough. Clearly I am no professional.

So I went to Plan B:

I went through my fonts and settled on the gorgeous (sorry, not free) Palace Script font:

I already had the list in Excel (I am an Excel freak, I have one set up for my yarn, one for pattern sizing, one for the wedding budget, one for my own budget, etc etc), but I needed to lay out the envelopes. So I turned to Word mail merge and used the envelope setting to lay out the envelopes. I fed them one at a time into our deskjet printer, using the good print setting, and they came out great!

The best part of this method is that I was able to look at each envelope individually before printing it, and so was able to tweak size and alignment for each envelope. Since we have lots of invites going out of the country, this was especially important, as those invites have an extra address line in them. I ended up printing a few in a smaller font in order to get everything to fit.

Also great about printing them this way was that I was able to do inner envelopes as a second step each time. First I printed the address envelope, then I deleted the address, changed the name format, and hit print again. This way the inner and outer envelopes were already collated when I went to stuff them!

I have to say that printing them out was 100% the right decision -- I finished them in just 2 days, my hands don't hurt, and they look neat and perfect! I realize people are just going to throw out the envelopes anyway . . . I don't understand why I wanted to hand-calligrapher them, it turns out my creative time is much better spent on other DIY projects!

Which I'll talk about a bit next time . . . specifically rehearsal dinner invites!

Posted in addressing, knitting, wedding, wedding invitations

Wedding talk: shoes

Posted on March 12, 2008 | 6 Comments

WARNING: Wedding talk ahead. No knitting in this post. I'm going to start posting a bit of what I'm doing for the wedding, but I promise to use appropriate subject lines so those of you who aren't interested can skip the posts, ok?

So today I got the new Lucky magazine and this issue's shoe spread is filled with ankle strap flats! SO PERFECT because I decided a month ago that I will be wearing flats to the wedding -- which you wouldn't think would be such a big deal, but you would be surprised at how many people seem downright insulted by the idea! When I told my friend Anne, she responded with, "What do you mean, flat? Like, flat flat?" (Anne reads this blog: Don't be mad at me Anne!) My mother responded, "But they're so casual and you're having a formal wedding, you just won't feel dressy without at least a small heel!"

To these all all the other objections I calmly explained that Adam is only an inch taller than me and I don't want to be taller than him in the pictures.

These discontinued Kate Spade skimmers could be perfect for someone in the same situation:

After the nay-sayers had to back down due to my obviously good point, I shocked them further by revealing that I plan to wear NON-WHITE flats. My mother thinks this is insane. Even Adam had his doubts. But I don't much care, because I hate white shoes and I think that most of them look orthopedic, or like nurse shoes, or like street-walker shoes. The ones above are a rare exception, but look how much cuter they are in RED:

Believe me, if this shoe was available in my size anywhere online (and I searched a LOT), I would already have bought it!

Even Anne had to admit the sad state of white shoes when together we went to a huge shoe store and looked at, and dismissed, literally every pair of white or off-white shoes they had. And don't even get me started on the sad white shoes available direct from the bridal store . . .

So I feel perfectly justified and even, dare I say it, reasonable, in my unorthodox idea of wearing non-white flats to my wedding. My dress is covered in lace and the bridesmaids are wearing purple . . . so I have no idea which pair of non-white flats I'll be wearing, but there are lots of options.

I might consider sandals like these:

I know these are white but I like the gold details!

Or slingbacks like these:

Although I'm not a big fan or yellow and I'm not sure about the flower . . .

Or something cute and funky like these:

Although, again, I'm not too sure about the color although I love the style!

So to sum up:

I'm looking for FLAT, dressy shoes in a bright color. They need to be comfortable with cushy soles, and I'm pretty sure I want them to have a back of some sort so they stay on through much dancing. I also want the front of the shoe to look like it could be a heeled shoe, so that when my toes peek out from under my dress it doesn't look like I'm wearing flip flops or something . . .

I may have added a whole mess of possibilities to my Flickr account . . . should you be interested. BTW, click on any picture to go to a website to buy the shoes . . .

And if you come across a pair you think I'd want to see, please let me know!

Posted in knitting, wedding, wedding shoes


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