I don’t know what came over me, but last night I remembered a sweater I’d knit about 20 years ago and that I no longer have. It wasn’t an old favorite sweater, but it was a could-have-been-a-fave. It wasn’t an old fave because the way it turned out was disappointing; it never looked like the photo in the pattern book, Pingouin No. 62. Remembering that sweater caused me to set about searching for that pattern book, which I still have. You can say it: “Packrat.” In fact, I’ve knitted two patterns from Pingouin No. 62, and turning it’s pages sent me back in time to when I was single and would longingly look at the pictures of couples modeling sweaters and I would dream of such romance and such knitting.
Although there is no publication information in the book, it’s quite the ’80s look throughout, and it’s a bit scary.
I think you can tell by looking at the cover, just how ’80s we’re talking, okay? But there are some good sweaters to be had in it, and my problem is to decide if it’s my old 1980s self coming back saying how great they look, or if my 2009 self can win and help me see that some (not all) of these sweaters have no place in the current era. Do you know what I’m saying here? I think my head is stuck in a time warp. Have you ever seen someone who is older, who still wears the actual clothes they wore 20 years before and they think it’s just fine and haven’t a clue how funny they look? No, that’s not me…or at least I don’t think so. No, I know that’s not me, because I have people who would tell the truth no matter how much it hurts.
Anyhow, look at the two I’ve knit—
This one I’ve knit three times (don’t they look romantic? Sigh). The first one I knit in Pingouin Pingolaine (I think), in natural, and I just loved it. In fact, I still have it, because I dig it out when it gets really cold and I’m going to be outside for a bit. Don’t worry, it doesn’t look like I’ve been dancing to Duran Duran or something, and it just serves as my last resort sweater. I do think it’s time to pitch it though, but it’s hard to let go of my knits. Real hard. Besides, it’s slightly felted from when I washed it a long time ago, so it doesn’t look so oversized anymore.
Perhaps because of the felting, I later made the same Aran-style pattern in some superwash wool that I bought from WEBS and I made it into a blue cardigan in 1990. I loved that huge, oversized cardigan. It was with that cardigan that brought me to the decision to never knit for anyone (paying for the yarn, or anything else, for that matter) again, because a coworker liked my cardigan so much that she begged me to make the same one for her, so I did. It turned out well enough considering that I’d made a few sweaters by then, and I was and am no professional knitter, but she criticized the way the buttonband curled slightly at the bottom, and she went on and on about it. I politely refused to reknit it, and pointed-out that it was a handmade sweater and that if she wanted something that didn’t look handmade to go buy one. I was very nice about, and maybe too nice, considering how much work I put into it. I think I even offered to give her her money back, but she didn’t accept my offer. Shortly afterward, another coworker asked me if I would knit something for her too, but I was not going down that road again.
The above pattern I knit with Pingouin Fleur du Laine in navy, and I was so disappointed with it because the collar was all loose and floppy. I think this one would fly in today’s look, don’t you? Maybe I could make it less boxy, but it is a jacket, so it could get by looking a bit oversized. I would love to make another one, but I don’t think this is a good time for me to be starting an Aran weight yarn sweater. Too busy these days.
This is the one that got away. I wanted to make this one, but finances made it hard to rationalize spending so much on another knitting project. Back in the day when I learned how to knit, I was either in college and or working jobs that barely paid my rent, and in the ’80s everything was oversized, causing the price of a handknit sweater to approach prices well beyond my reach. It is for this reason that I didn’t knit much until about 10 years ago. I just couldn’t afford the luxury and I thought I had to take special classes to learn how to knit sox and mittens, and for some reason, it didn’t occur to me to make scarves. Maybe because back then scarves were more stockinette and didn’t have the fun stitch patterns and colors that they do now.
So that’s my little trip down knitting memory lane, for today, at least, because there are the two Phildar pattern books I have from back then. We’ll explore them another day. Happy knitting dreams to you!