Thursday, April 23, 2009

Statute of limitations

Back in 1977, I was working in the Faculty Registrar's Office, Arts and Social Sciences, at Carleton University. (Yes, I still sometimes feel tempted to answer the phone that way. Old habits die hard.) I think I was the youngest person working there at the time (I was 19), but most of my colleagues weren't much older, and many of us became very close friends during our years at the FRO.

In those days, I was just starting to get into knitting in a big way, and I taught a couple of my friends how to knit. We'd sit upstairs in the coffee room, or out on the quad on nice spring days, needles clacking away, chatting about . . . actually, I have no idea. It seemed important at the time, though.

Then, during the summer of 1977, someone brought in a copy of Vogue Knitting, and pointed to a garter-stitch pullover. It was a pretty basic design, and very 1970s: big and kind of slouchy, knit up on oversized needles, with drop shoulders and a very simple folded-to-the-inside bateau neckline.

"That's what we need to make," she said. And indeed, three of us -- Anne-Marie, Davida, and I -- bought yarn and cast on. Anne-Marie's was a soft buttery yellow acrylic/wool blend; Davida's was cream-coloured pure wool; and I used the yarn I had on hand -- a denim-coloured acrylic worsted. At the time, it seemed like an excellent choice.

The amazing thing about that sweater is that although the three of us could not have been more unlike in terms of body type, it looked fantastic on each of us. We called it our "office uniform," and we wore our respective sweaters with pride. In fact, if I remember correctly, we wore our sweaters to Mosport Speedway that October, to watch the last Canadian Grand Prix race ever held at that venue. Amazing times.

That sweater remained my favourite for years. After a while, though, my choice of yarn began to tell: acrylic was cheap and nasty back then, and the sweater did not age gracefully. It frayed, it bagged and sagged, it just generally started to look like what it was: a great sweater, knit with crap yarn. I kept it for years, though, long past the time when I could wear it out of the house. My rationale was that one day I'd buy some proper wool, find the pattern again, and reknit it in a fibre it deserved.

My problem: I never did find that pattern again. In fact, I can find no evidence that such a pattern ever existed, let alone that it was in a spring/summer issue of VK. But I'm now at the stage in my knitterly life where I'm pretty sure I could knit a swatch and replicate the sweater pretty accurately. In fact, I have some Cascade 220 set aside specifically for the purpose. The colour is California Poppy, and I think it sets a nice cheerful tone, quite suited to the sweater I have in mind.

I'm hesitating, though. I think I'm nervous about messing around with the past, or maybe I think this new version could never match up to the ratty old denim version that I loved so much. Some day soon, though, I will take the plunge. I'm just waiting for the right moment.

Any time now, I'll start swatching. You just see if I don't.

4 comments:

Stacy said...

Jump in... do it! (Gorgeous color!)

nicolaknits said...

Do we get to see a photo of the old sweater?

gilraen said...

You would so be able to do just that!! Good luck with the swatching :)

Not ready for handspun said...

You've been awarded a "One Lovely Blog" award