I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to Southern California for Costume College. I have been interested in attending for a while but this is the 1st time I actually made it. I’m still a little sleepy (took the red eye home) to get into a big post about the experience and I haven’t had time to get my photos organized either. But…there is something I can share right away! Costume College has a theme every year. This year it was accessories. They also do a big display of attendees’ work. I submitted my hand knit parasol for display and was accepted. I had to write a bit about it so I figured why not share with you guys!
In 2011, after completing a few bustle gowns and attending some different Steampunk events, I looked for something to make that was new and unique from what I had seen others doing. Because knitting was my prolific craft of choice before I had rediscovered sewing, I wanted to incorporate a yarn craft piece into my Neo-Victoriana. I wasn’t really sure what though. I wasn’t planning on knitting a corset. I don’t remember exactly how (probably by googling steampunk knitting), but I found The Sanguine Gryphon yarns and their collection of Steampunk themed knitting patterns. I bought three of their patterns. The first (and actually only) one I have knitted is A Lady’s Bumbershoot.
A Lady’s Bumbershoot is a knit in the round lace motif which, when completed, is placed and sewn to a bamboo parasol frame that has had the majority of its cover removed. You leave the paper edge on the outside to give the completed knit piece a little extra support when the parasol is open. The instructions also say that it makes up nicely as a shawl should a parasol not be the thing for you. The finished example was knit in an orange colorway called “The Waverly Hills Sanatorium”. I’m not sure what feature of the creepy, supposedly haunted old place made them think “orange”. Even though I kind of hate when people make the exact same item as the pattern illustration, orange is one of my favorite colors and orange goes really well with one of the bustle dresses I was working on at the time, so I ignored my own annoyance and went with that colorway.
Although I had never knit lace before, being a fairly advanced knitter, I didn’t find the pattern particularly difficult or hard to understand. My biggest issue was counting properly, especially because the majority of the piece was knit while sitting on my kitchen floor, talking to my husband while he made us dinner. When I wet blocked the piece to the final measurements I realized that I was completely unable to get to the supposed dimensions. I figured out that I must have counted incorrectly somewhere and not done enough repeats. This didn’t really surprise me but I wasn’t sure what to do about it. Luckily, I was able to find a “child” size paper parasol very close to the measures I was stuck with. While a significant error, I ended up appreciating the final bumbershoot’s smaller size. While still big enough to shade me, the bumbershoot was lighter, smaller and less cumbersome to carry since it fit just right in a tote or larger handbag.
Eager to finish, I proceeded to sewing the knitted piece to the bamboo frame without painting the top finial. I had a vintage button that fit perfectly on the top of the finial so I just glued that down to finish and cover up the lack of paint. As a final touch, I threaded a length of striped vintage velvet ribbon through the some of the stitches as a tie for when the parasol as closed. When the parasol is open I just tie the ribbon in a bow for a nice bit of decoration.
Since I completed the bumbershoot, The Sanguine Gryphon has re-organized into two different companies. I couldn’t find the bumbershoot pattern on either companies’ website but it is on Ravelry. I also didn’t see the yarn it calls for on either website but you can, of course, substitute a different yarn of appropriate gauge. I have only seen this pattern made up by others maybe two other times? It’s quite unique and despite the small yarn, knits up fairly quickly. The lace pattern also covers mistakes pretty well so no need for perfection. I hope someone else is inspired to give it a go!