I am so excited to finally be able to tell you all about Audrey Totter, the Bad Girl. Audrey’s part of the Sanguine Gryphon Film Noir line for Fall 2011, and most definitely the sexiest thing I’ve ever knit! When the call went out for Film Noir inspired ideas for fall, I think I jumped up and down with excitement. I am an old movie junkie with the entire Thin Man collection on DVD, and for the last few years I’ve become deeply obsessed with mystery stories of any sort. Many of my favorite movies are noir, and I love the look of the period as much as the actual content.
I am not the world’s fastest knitter, and I am trying to know my own limitations, so although my brain caught fire at the prospect of making noir themed clothing, I decided to limit myself to one submission. Although at first I was drawn to creating menswear for a detective type, ultimately, I knew my sympathies lay with the femme fatale. And you know, I’ve really, really been wanting to design a dress for ages, so…
I immediately started looking at pictures of femmes fatale in dresses from my favorite movies. Some of these dresses were surprisingly sensible compared to what I was imagining, such as Barbara Stanwyck’s costumes from Double Indemnity. She wears a lot of twin sets and suits in that film and of course looks like a million bucks, but I was aiming to clothe a sultry nightclub singer, not a housewife, and I wanted something more revealing and clingy. There’s a sultry nightclub singer played by Penny Singleton in After the Thin Man, but her costumes are actually kind of silly looking. After a while I sort of went out on my own and started trying to look at period costume and make it more sultry and more like the picture in my head. What ultimately inspired me was this photo of the Boswell Sisters, a singing group that became popular in the ’30s.
I’m not sure which sister is in the center of that photo, but I do know I loved her dress right away. I’d never seen a dress with a sash threaded through it like that, and while the Boswell dress is not tight and sultry, the possibilities were very interesting. A sash threaded through a keyhole like that creates an exaggerated hourglass, highlighting the shape of the figure. (Also, seriously, I want those shoes. And the ukelele is pretty rad, too.)
This is what I drew.
I know the point of a garment sketch is to convey the idea of the garment, but let me tell you, I agonized over how terrible those hands look. I feel the need to put a disclaimer that I can actually draw, even if I didn’t do such a great job here. At a certain point, I was realizing I was spending all my time on the sketch and not enough on the actual submission and I let it go, but I am still not over those stupid hands.
My original idea was to knit it in a worsted weight yarn with a laceweight sash, but the wise folks over at the Sanguine Gryphon HQ knew better and chose Bugga! for the dress body instead. Bugga!, although thinner than I had planned, is actually a fabulous choice for a dress. It’s a hardwearing yarn (my son has Bugga! mitts that he’s worn for several successive winters and he is HARD on them) but soft as can be with a merino/cashmere/nylon blend, saturated, and the nylon content that can be very helpful in maintaining wear and shape in a garment. The sash is knit in Gaia Lace, a seriously luxurious cashmere/silk blend.
Despite being a dress, this is not a slow or a difficult knit. It’s done in the round to the armpits from the bottom up, and shaped with placed darts. The stretchy fabric created by the Bugga! hugs the curves with negative ease, but I wrote a very little positive ease into the waist so that the dress won’t cling at the tummy. The sash is knit separately in one piece and seamed to the neckline at the end. I’d originally planned to bind it off onto the dress, but when I tried, it looked absolutely terrible, so a little seaming it is!
The lace used for the sash is a very simple Vine Lace repeat to keep it all nice and easy. With very few rows to memorize, the lace breezes by. I was worried about whether I’d finish to the deadline because the idea of knitting a whole dress with sport and laceweight yarn was intimidating as all get out, but no sleeves and open lace makes for a pretty straightforward knit! When I’d finished, I asked Mr. Kninja to take a picture of me in the dress before we sent it off, and he got super excited and asked our neighbor if we could take the picture in front of the neighbor’s Model A.
I don’t quite have the enviable proportions of the model used by the Sanguine Gryphon, but the stretchy fabric means it fits me too! You can buy the Audrey Totter pattern at the Sanguine Gryphon website for $7.00. Please do check out the rest of the Film Noir collection, as it is AMAZING! I love so many of these patterns and wish I had time to knit more of them. As it is, I want to knit both hats, and I think I can probably swing that!
I mentioned another bad girl. That would be our new rat, Amelia. I didn’t blog about this when it happened because I was so depressed about it, but one of our rats, Daisy, died some months ago after what should have been a routine surgery to remove a benign tumor. Her sister, Rose, has been kind of down since then, and since rats are healthier with cage mates we decided to get two new baby rats to keep her company. They came home on Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning we introduced them to Rose and put them in the big cage. It went great until I checked on all the rats a short while later and found only two of them, Clio and Rose. Amelia was loose. We spent a very upsetting day and a half searching and attempting to lure her out and feeling discouraged, but on Thursday afternoon, something nibbled my toes when I stood in front of the couch. I peeked under and there was Amelia! She took off for behind the piano, but once we knew where she was, catching her was not that hard. She’s in rat reform school now and I’ll post adorable baby rat pictures soon.
And finally the discount! I know we’re all deep in holiday knitting mode, and to aid in that, I’m offering 15% off any Knitting Kninja pattern from now through the end of November. Just use the coupon code jumpstart at checkout and you can get 15% off any pattern or ebook.