One thing about not posting for a while is that there’s a backlog of things to write about, so for this post I’ll travel back in time a bit to the end of February when I passed another birthday. This was hardly a unique experience—I’ve had so many birthdays that yet another is not noteworthy. (What I suppose would be noteworthy is if I stopped having birthdays, although I wouldn’t be around to contemplate that state of affairs.) But what I did realize and found very jarring is that it was the 50th anniversary of my birth as a knitter.
If we travel back farther in time to my 16th birthday, we arrive at my initiation as a knitter. It all started quite innocently. All my friends decided to knit bulky sweaters (the size 10 ½-needle variety), and although I wasn’t necessarily one to slavishly follow trends, I was, like any teenager, easily persuaded by my friends. After begging and pleading with my mother to let me buy yarn—not that skinny out-of-date 1940s yarn she had stashed—she finally relented and took me to a yarn store. There I got some fire-engine red yarn and a mimeographed (yes, this was before copiers were invented) pattern.
It is a miracle that I persisted in my knitting career. That first sweater was an unmitigated disaster. Oh, the knitting was nice enough, but you could fit two of me in it. Something stuck, however, and I persisted. Sweater #2 was better, Sweater #3, a tennis sweater, became a favorite, and by then I was on a roll. I haven’t kept a lot of my early sweaters, but I do have one that I enjoyed knitting and wearing.
It was hard to find good yarn in the late 60s and early 70s, but this was an exception. It was a Swiss import of wool and mohair (Spinnerin, I think), and the pattern came from Vogue Knitting before it disbanded publication in the 1970s. I bought the bone buttons for an outrageous $8 (for all 12 of them—there are a couple of extras) at Lord & Taylor in New York City, when it still had a fabric department. This sweater was completed in 1966, because that is when I had a summer job as a switchboard operator and bought the buttons during my lunch hour.
I might add that a modeling shot of this sweater is out of the question. It measures 32 inches across the chest, and that includes a few inches of ease. My days of having a chest measurement like that have long since been over.
Here’s another early effort that I knit at age 17 for my mother. This was knit from Bernat baby yarn (wool and nylon) from a Bernat pattern leaflet.
I found this among my mother’s things and was surprised that she kept it all these years. I was also surprised at how good the knitting was, and how painfully inept the finishing was. Like Marcel Proust and his madeleine, this one brought back memories. I recalled how much fun it was to string the sequins onto the yarn and have them twinkle as they formed the shiny bands on the front of the sweater.
I’m not sure I’m attempting to recapture my youth, but twinkly knitting has definitely been on my mind for a while. I think the attraction arose from seeing finished beaded shawls knit by those in my knitting group—once again influenced by knitting friends. So as I contemplate switching from wool sweaters to summer lace, I came upon Tendrils, Susanna IC’s beautiful beaded shawl (crescent version), that was in the most recent release of the Twist Collective. I’ve had this nice silk lace in my stash for a few years (Long Ridge Farm 100% silk), and the shiny beads arrived this week:
Although I don’t expect to be knitting for another 50 years, I’ve got to make the most of the time I have left. After all there are fewer and fewer years to knit up my stash.