Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Forever Sweater

I cannot remember when this sweater was not a part of my life. It always was. I held onto it as fashions came and went and came again and I'm glad.

Where to start to tell this story? The booklet that the pattern was originally published in was copyright 1957. This sweater was knit by my father and I think it was the first time he tried intarsia. Knit in brown, red and white acrylic, most likely in the 42" large size, It must have been made for himself and then passed down to my eldest brother.

We did ski a little as a family, but it was more of the "idea" of skiing that interested me at 5 or six, when I had little wooden skies with leather bindings. But back to the sweater...I hate skiing.

Even though it was the 70's and this kind of Retro wasn't really in, I loved it. The only clothes that I could get away with wearing that were "cool" and not bought by my mother, were the things that I could steal from my brothers. As they are 8 and 10 years older, and as soon as they left for college, I would rummage through their clothes left behind to find something that I thought really suited me. (If you're reading this guys, don't get mad, it was a desperate situation.)

When I went to college this sweater went with me and I can see that my mother sewed my name in with a label (still have those too). It wasn't until I started knitting in my late 30's that I really looked at this St. Moritz sweater as a knitter. The pattern had been in the box with all the knitting needles at my parent's house. I actually have a copy of it now because their original was lost in the selling of their house and I was able to find another copy online!
I still wear it all the time and last year it occurred to me that I should really knit it myself. I've had the yarn and it's just been sitting there. Some pretty good reasons: Intarsia, scary instructions, fear of failure. I mean, Dad already knit it, will mine measure up??

Christmas Eve was his birthday. He would have been 90. I wore the sweater and went out for a day of knitting with friends, before the stores closed. I had my friend Emily take this picture of me and now I see that I'm really committing myself to something here. I've got so many unfinished projects and I just completed one. So, even though it was just mittens, I'm adding a whole new sweater to the mix.Of course I should have realized this but after scanning the charts I see that they are all hand drawn and pretty impossible to read. I'm coloring them in with contrasting colors. I'm actually going to knit the body in sky blue, and the rest will be the same, off-white and red. (The hat in this picture is the one from the cover of Vogue Fall 09-- pink) that I knit during Thanksgiving.

So where am I today? Committing myself to something I finally know I can do. Sure, it's going to take a lot of concentration and patience. I doubt I'll finish it this year, but you never know! I do know that I'll want to wear it. Who will this one get passed down to? Who can say...


ColorJoy LynnH said...

Oh, I love that story. Of course you will need to knit it for yourself. In your own colors.

My dad was very handy with many things... carpentry, electrical/plumbing, gardening, writing, typing (98 words a minute on a manual Royal). He didn't knit, neither did his very modern "flapper" mother.

I did, however, learn to knit from a man. And how funny, because I told a story of my own father yesterday on my blog (he died in 1973). Holidays make us think of loved ones... even more when it's their birthday, huh? Dad's own birthday was Jan. 3.

I'm on your team. Rah, Rah for the forever sweater!

pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

Do it! It's going to be great. And you'll think of your dad with every stitch.

Kat said...

It's just beautiful. Congrats on taking this on.

Jen said...

I've got a family-inspired sweater on the brain too, and it happens to also include scary colorwork.
Just about every memory I have of my paternal grandmother has her in a sweater with a traditional Norwegian pattern. She's been gone a couple years now, and I've had this nagging need to knit myself a sweater like that, even though my only experience with colorwork so far has been simple stripes and one horribly puckered intarsia pincushion. Daunting, yes, but as you know this is the kind of need that one just has to fulfill, slowly but surely.

AnnieM said...

I am a fairly new knitter, 61, only 6 years or so, and NOT a class taker. I broke down and took a class on intarsia and found that a large intarsia item is much much easier to knit than a small one...I knit a sweater, now a UFO (un-finished object), which wasn't that hard BUt I tried a small little coffee cup cover and it was very difficult! Thank goodness it had to be felted and looked much better afterward. So have heart!