Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Old friends

I've been spending a lot of time putting projects onto Ravelry. It has been loads of fun -- I've dug into both cedar chests and the coat closet and pulled out stacks of things I've knitted over the years. I've gone through old photo albums, looking for pictures of knitting. It has brought back a lot of memories, most of them good. Even the frustrating projects are funny after a while.

I have a stack of old photos that haven't been scanned yet, but I can't resist sharing one project with you. It's my Gray Vest, which has seen steady use for almost 20 years.

The only pictures I can find of it date from about the same period in the mid 90's. That's my then-boyfriend, now husband, and me, first at my aunt's house where he first met the family, and later at a fish show where we were both judges. It doesn't look like either of us got a haircut in between!

The vest was really not terribly successful, considered objectively. The pattern is written in one size, 36 inches at the chest and 24 inches long, and I remember thinking, "oh, if my gauge is a little off, that will make sure it will fit." (Ha, ha -- guessing to make sure, get it? Oh, what a precise thinker I was!) The sweater is 46 inches at the chest and 26 inches long. This was my first inkling that gauge matters. On the positive side, I liked it baggy, and I can still wear it now although I am 40 pounds heavier than when I made it.

I know neither photo shows much detail, (gives me a new respect for those Polperro photos) but can you see the horizontal bands of garter stitch? Can you see how they bend at the chest? This was before I learned about bust darts, too.

The yarn is a superwash wool (from when superwash was kind of new and exciting). I can't remember the name right now, but I'm working on it. It has held up okay although there are a few odd worms where the sweater has been snagged. I think this is the kind of superwash where the scales are filled with some sort of resin, because it doesn't really feel wooly. It doesn't feel like plastic, either.

I don't wear the vest as much as I used to, partly because I live in a warmer climate now where I don't automatically put on a turtleneck & wool vest every day in the winter. (In the second photo I am wearing the vest over a Pendleton wool shirt over some sort of t-shirt -- winter in Minnesota.) Partly I don't wear the vest because I'm so much heavier that I don't think it looks as good. And partly, it just looks old.

I would make this vest very differently today. I have, in fact, tried to replace it three times, with a gray alpaca/silk shawl-collared vest, a big boxy black one, and a closer-fitting purple cabled one. Two of those vests have been quite successful (the black one was a mistake), but neither have replaced this vest for day-in, day-out comfort and ease of wearing.

Maybe this winter I will try again. Maybe I should just make the same pattern again (it's from a wonderful compilation of old patterns, Classic Knitting Patterns from the British Isles: Men's Hand-Knits from the '20s to the '50s, currently available on ebay.) (Not from me, I just love this book.) Or maybe it's time to move on.

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