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Denim Report

Dear Ann,
It’s hard keeping up with the Denim News these days. In knitting (and all areas of life), I go in fits and starts. Felting frenzy has (finally) passed for the season, and I have moved on to full-blown denimania. The denim knitting is so hot and heavy that stuff gets started and finished before I even have time to Document For Posterity.
I didn’t show you one of the things on my sew-up pile a couple weeks ago, because I was waiting for the US Postal Service to deliver it to the young recipient, and for the young recipient’s mother to take a photo (was it obnoxious to request ‘natural light please’? oh well, I do apologize) and email it back to me.
Here is the Museum Sweater from Little Badger, one of my all-time favorite books of kids’ knits (remember the Square Neck Cardigan?). First the Glorious Baby Photo, featuring Elio. This pic almost moved me to tears, so natural was the light and so sweet the backdrop, not to mention the kissable ears, the downy head, and, of course, the denim:
Enough sweetness and light and cute baby. We are knitters here. We must discuss What Is Wrong With The Sweater. For this we need a Flat Shot Cropped to Highlight Flaws:
1. Neck opening: kind of tight. If I do this sweater again for an infant, I would put an opening on the shoulder, or something. It did fit Elio, but I’m not sure it was fun wrestling it over his head.
2. Armhole openings: really tight. Cristina (Elio’s mother and staff photographer) reports that she had to stretch them to fit. Length and widthwise, the sweater would fit Elio until he’s 2, but the armholes are not going to make it that long. Please note that I actually measured and placed the armholes EGGZACKLY where the pattern says to place them. The sweater would look less museum-y with larger armhole openings, but the baby would wear it longer, and that’s more important to me (it’s all about AGING THE DENIM, people, and a toddler is the finest denim-aging device known to man).
I love the look, though. It reminds me of the California miners, standing in creeks in Levis, when Levis were new, in dirty undershirts. I love the Henley neckline, and the waffle-weave ribbing at the top. It’s an easy knit, and so plain that an actual boy will actually not mind wearing it. I’m going to up-size it for Joseph and maybe even for Hubby. ( I’ll do it either this round of denimania, or my next cycle, or my next lifetime.)
That’s all. I was going to tell you about the Perils of Plying Laceweight Texere Denim On Cones, but I’ll save that for the hard-core denim heads. (Child labor is involved.)
Love, Kay




  1. Isn’t that what children are for? Did you pay them? Bribe them? Love the Museum shirt. People in the old days cared less about armhole restrictions, I feel. You could always have it back when Elio’s grown a bit, take the sleeves off, knit a gusset strip in another bit of denim & stitch into sleeve seam, then re-attach sleeves (strip goes up the length of the arm to widen sleeve all the way up) – more wear, subtly different denim aging… you could even do it in a different shade… Have I sold that? x x ( I assume you may get it back one day for re-cyling?)

  2. ACK, you have to do *what* to the Texere denim? Not having a child who is old enough to labor on my behalf, it may be worth it to stick to my faint hope that Elann will Bring Back the Denim. Maybe we should start a campaign!

  3. I have many comments here. Baby: adorable. Sweater: just about as adorable as the baby.
    First of all, way to acknowledge imperfection in your knitting. (I just fold all the odd bits out of sight.) The narrow sleeve thing is very sea gansey, don’t you think–you know all those photos of men wearing tight-fittin’ wool sweaters because they DIDN’T HAVE Gore-Tex yet? But I agree that few of us want to wrestle our children into vintage-sized knits for the sake of authenticity.
    The Henley neckline is crucial to the gold-miner effect, so I’d vote to leave it next time. No self-respecting gold miner had a shoulder opening, even a baby gold miner.
    And I’d knit another one for yerself before I’d knit one for Hubby. Hubby is So. Tall. that you’d basically be knitting two at once. Just don’t mention this to Hubby.
    Next: child labor. I applaud this! Keeps ’em from wishing they had a Game Boy like their little pale friends in Nashville have.
    Off to contemplate my state fair knitting project. I’m going to need some advice on this.

  4. Well, speak of angels (or hard-core denim heads, and hear their wings)! I guess I buried the lead in this post.
    Belinda: I gave them a dollar each for a very large ball. There was much deliberation about whether the balls were big enough, and whether one child’s was bigger, by even a micron, than the other’s. Not sure it was worth it. Fun fact: Joseph can wind a ball more neatly and 3 or 4 times as fast as his older sister. Not, as I repeatedly pointed out, that it was a competition. Between siblings, everything is a competition.
    Liz: It is easy to ply it (since even the Rowan/Elann denim has very little twist to it, it’s going to be ‘splitty’ no matter how much one overpays). Takes the same amount of time as winding a hank into a ball. Even so, I’m DYING for Elann to bring back the ready-to-knit denim, and I bitterly regret that I used to grouse about how sloppily the Elann balls were wound (I always had to re-wind them after they fell apart). What can we do, get a petition going?
    xoxo Kay

  5. OK, dollface, how far do you want to go? Here’s a place in Pakistan that deals in denim fabrics and yarn:
    Maybe we could buy up a garageful of the stuff and sell it direct. Maybe we need a fact-finding trip to Pakistan. Who’s in?

  6. I’m in. When do we leave? How do you say, “May I see the fabulous textiles?” in Punjabi?
    About the sleeves: I was thinking I would rip the seams a bit up the arms, unravel the wrists a bit and then re-bind off with the yarn needle method and re-seam. I could do a little gusseting because I’ve gusseted before and I could gusset again, but I’m not sure it’s necessary. Is that o Kay?
    And the petition should go to Whomever At Rowan thinks price gouging as well as monopolizing are fair business practices. Have you SEEN what it’s going for? He-llo-o–it’s not cashmere.
    I was hoping you’d whoopsydoodle for the state fair, Ann.

  7. Oh, we know all about sibling rivalry in our house – even up until a month before he finally popped his clogs my Dad would have the unedifying spectacle of me & my sister arguing & descending into yelling ‘Dad, TELL HER!!’ And I’m, ooh, 38 this year, big sis is 60… (yep, that’s right. There was an age gap. My brother’s even older but he won’t sully himself with such exciting entertainment. He’s always been the boring one). But what are siblings for if not to argue with? Anyway – YAY! Pakistan here we come.
    Denim Angel – I like that. I just knit the stuff straight off the cones. But then it’s not very portable. Saves winding though. x x x

  8. Belinda, I hate to ask this but, what does ‘popped his clogs’ mean? Not sure I want to know, but the answer will be edifying for all of the Americans hanging out this afternoon in the comments.
    I was laughing the other day when I believe you used the term ‘barkers’, which I was able to figure out from the context.
    Continental Airlines is advertising its London routes with posters defining English slang, and so far they haven’t stumped me yet, thanks to the Rowanettes and Denim Angels of my e-quaintance. xox Kay

  9. Erm, ‘died’ if you want the unvarnished explanation, ‘shuffled off this mortal coil’, ‘is no more’… he was 89 and had had a very happy life (blessed by his dear daughters, obviously. But I was his favourite!!). ‘Brown Bread’ is another you may need to know… ‘kicked the bucket’… shall I go on? x x

  10. If sitting there with your hands out stretched like “THAT”, with a skein of yarn over them, was good enough for my dad, then all children should be forced/encouraged to do the same!
    I do love the waffle pattern on the jumper. Hmm… waffles!

  11. I want to be a Denim Angel! We can have meet-ups! I’ll wear a bleached denim knit jacket with hotsy totsy embroidered on the back in neon beads and sequins!
    Love the Gold Miner sweater so much I’m going to copy it, with deeper armhole suggestions and longer placket – and how about some little copper buttons – or old copper coins? I’ve often thought about doing the cuffs in darker blues like the reknit/mended ganseys in those old pictures.
    Are any Denim Angels out there bleaching and dyeing their denim? Would love to hear from you. Have had some success with tie dye bleaching of Tennessee and tea dyeing of ecru Rowan Denim. Annhb

  12. Ann HB–I know MDK is not paying you nearly a high enough salary, but do send some documentation of all that bleaching and dyeing! It’s fascinating. Think of the possibilities. Think of the mess.
    Oh, and when you’ve got a spare minute, please get on that “overdyeing denim with red Rit” project we discussed.
    For some reason I don’t think you can dye cotton with Koolaid. I read that somewhere I think.
    xox Kay

  13. Denim Angels Unite! Kay, what have you started? x x

  14. I have pictures!!!!! on a camera in Los Angeles…… but as soon as that camera gets home I will post them! Basically I tie the hank of washed and dryed denim in a lot of places and stuff it in a 1 pint freezer bag that has about 1 cup of bleach and 2 cups of water and I let it sit for 7 minutes then rinse like crazy and wash and dry again – The tea thing is just simmering some yarn in a little saucepan with 4 tea bags and then letting it sit till I need the pan again. Annhb – p.s. I’m afraid of the red dye, I’m working on teal though.

  15. Annhb, we have much to talk about… e-mail me!
    Copy Kay in, we’ll have her bleaching yet! x x x

  16. Lace-weight Denim?!?!?!? At some point in your spare time future, would you mind knitting a lace swatch and shrinking that? I’m just really, really, really curious….

  17. good to see that I’m not the only person that thinks that it’s important to age denim and that baby clothes should last that baby until he/she is ready for kindergarten. πŸ˜‰

  18. I’m with Thomas: LACE WEIGHT DENIM?!?!? I’ve been thinking about it since you mentioned it after your Habu expedition. I look for some online occasionally… like today for instance. Texere didn’t have any that I saw. Sportweight or 4-ply. I haven’t tried Habu for a while. But I think I really, really, really need some!
    Thanks for the Child Labor tips. Always looking for new ways to employ the sprout. Especially since she’s kind of outgrown picking up sticks in the yard for a penny each. πŸ˜‰

  19. Adorable baby! Equally adorable child labor πŸ˜‰

  20. Little Badger is my favorite all time children’s pattern book as well. I’ve made those little star and heart beanies for all my friend’s children. They work up quick and make great shower gifts.

  21. I would suggest gussets in the armholes to prolong wearing (by the child) to promote longer wearing of the denim.

  22. I must start training my two kids right away. Let them play with yarn balls instead of real balls.

  23. Hmmm, does it say something that I read “denimania” as “dementia”?

  24. Cutie! I love the rib on the top, it is nice and simple πŸ™‚

  25. LOL I read “denimania” as “dementia”.

  26. ROFL – now I read the comments and find I am not the only one? Perhaps we know you all too well. πŸ˜‰

  27. Cute as cake!

  28. You’ve sent me off to Texere – not that it takes much – and (whispering) they’ve got some new denim.


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