The idea that I was getting older evolved gradually. It began innocently enough about ten years ago, when retail clerks and supermarket checkers began to call me “ma’am”. And it is unlikely that I’ll be recruited for the CIA. All an enemy would have to do is put me in high heels for two minutes, and our national secrets would no longer be safe. It is only athletic shoes and flats for me now.
I also discovered that it became difficult to find pants with waistbands and shirts with knitted cuffs at the wrists, and I had the suspicion that my everyday garments (baggy jeans and tucked in T-necks in cool weather, for working in my loft-office) were no longer on the cutting edge of fashion. I know that many of my counterparts are uncomfortable with computers, but I never thought I was in that group. I embraced PCs when they were first introduced in the 1980s (and owned Apple IIs before there was even an MS DOS operating system to give Bill Gates his first million), I learned to program, I sometimes edit programming books, and I work with computers everyday. But I did not know there were knitting blogs until about March 2006, when I accidentally stumbled on them by following links from the Vogue Knitting Magazine website. This too made me feel old. Where was I when these blogs started to appear? Why was I so late in finding them?
I was delighted to discover the hundreds of other knitters who share my passion, but I also discovered that most bloggers, who are considerably younger than 60, like fitted sweaters. When I think of fitted sweaters, this is what comes to mind:
These are the sweaters that were popular in the 50s and late 60s, and knitting sweaters like those gave me the ability to make fitted sleeves. But even though today’s sweaters are different, I remember those old one whenever I see a fitted sweater design. I thought that the boxy sweaters that were featured by designers such as Alice Starmore and Kaffe Fassett in the 1980s were liberating. Look at how roomy and comfortable those sweaters are! Look at how easy it is to make and attach sleeves! And so, I thought that my loose-fitting sweaters were remarkably stylish.
Well, now I know they aren’t. But I’m not sure I ought to change my sweater style. I’ve grown to really like the roominess of boxy sweaters. And for me, making clothes is about what I want, not what is fashionable or trendy. It takes me a relatively long time to make a sweater, and I want to be sure I can wear it for life. I also learned early on (in my 20s) that I don’t have a fashionable body—but who does? To really look good in clothes you have to be about a foot taller than I am, have no distinguishable curves, and look as if you could really use a good meal. I also know that older women need to tread carefully when embracing new styles. I still recall my smug amusement at “women of a certain age” who wore miniskirts in the 60s and looked totally ridiculous as they tried to hide their lumpy legs and varicose veins in dark stockings. So even though I’ve kept my midriff, I think “that will be me” if I wear a very form-fitting sweater. So for now, I haven’t completely abandoned my boxy, jacket-like sweaters, and I plan to knit several this year.
But I also plan to compromise, and knit some that do follow my natural curves at least a little. The first is the Elsebeth Lavold sweater, which I’ve now swatched and bought buttons for, and the second is Alice Starmore’s Elizabeth I.
After all, this is knitting, and if it doesn’t work, I can frog it and start over. But in my heart of hearts, I really hope the fashion pendulum will swing back to something that is a bit roomier and with sleeves that reach my wrists.