Aw look! One pattern, 364 versions of the MDK New Ancestral Christmas Stocking.

Now: Even Raspier!

Dear Ann,
What is wrong with me? I can’t seem to come into possession of a knitted-up piece of denim yarn–swatch or sweater–without experiencing OCD-W (Obsessive Compulsive Denim-Washing). No sooner had I modelled Raspy in public and worn it a few times, than it started to look a bit too crispy and new. It needed mellowing. It needed several trips through the washer and dryer with as much other stuff as I could cram in (for friction, you know–to sand down the new denim blue).
But what it really needed–or I needed–was BLEACH.
Yes. Bleach. What is this mad urge to take irresponsible risks with precious handknits that have taken hours–days–weeks–months– to finish? But once the word ‘bleach’ has entered my mind, I am powerless to resist. No bleach pen? No problem. A Q-tip and a jar lid with a half-inch of bleach, and I’ve got my brand-new sweater stuffed with the New York Post and I’m daubing away. Heedless of the danger to a perfectly okay sweater.
Here goes:
raspybleach.jpg
The voice in my head (Mad Bad Kay) was saying: “People see you in this sweater and think you don’t KNOW about all those dropped-stitch ‘runs’ you made in it! They think you are a bad knitter! They are looking at you RIGHT NOW and thinking you don’t even REALIZE that you have holes in your sweater! Now…if you just bleach those little ladders–just a TOUCH, very SUBTLE–then it will be clear that you are a GREAT KNITTER and you Did This On Purpose. Then it will be the Design Feature that Kim Hargreaves intended. By God, woman: you MUST BLEACH IT, BLEACH IT GOOD!”
raspybleachsleeve.jpg
So I painted on my bleach, put it back in the washer (dumping the leftover bleach into the wash–what the hell, right?), only slightly nervous as to whether I would like the outcome. With bleach, there are no do-overs. If you don’t like it, there’s only overdyeing, or bleaching it ALL THE WAY, i.e, a white sweater. That would kind of defeat the purpose of the fading indigo-dyed yarn, you know?
Here’s how it came out.
raspybleachchair.jpg
For the record, I like it. I like it much better than before. It still has a raw, just-bleached look, but that will soften up with wear and washing. (Yay! More washing!)
Carrie’s observation made it all worthwhile: ‘You’re…. Punk Mom!’
Very fitting on the last day of CBGB’s. (I can’t seem to face up to the facts. I’m tense and nervous–can’t relax. )
Love, Kay

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63 Comments

63 Comments

  1. Wow Kay I’m impressed! I feel a sudden and dangerous urge to take to all my clothes with bleach! Feel I should probably hide it away for awhile till I’ve thought the urge through properly lol. You taken the marvelous to the sublime :-)

  2. oops burnt the dinner while reading this……

  3. Kay, you are a bleach-pen artist. Oops — a q-tip dipped in bleach artist. The sweater is SO much better!

  4. oh, yeah. it works. Plus all that washing and manipulating it really gave it that old-skool, unstructured, prepster/punk aura. NIIIIICE.
    You got that yarn free, didn’t you? Admit it!
    Gawd knows I’m so afraid of making a mistake I couldn’t intentionally destroy something in the hopes it will turn out kewl. Just what is it about you and Ann? And please, pass it on to the rest of us.

  5. You are almost too cool for knitting, this thing rocks! I soooo need a bleach pen.

  6. Looks much better….#1 was great, but #2 has real style.
    It makes me remember I have 96 balls of Sirdar Indigo in the attic, begging for a good pattern…..

  7. Now tell me honestly, would you rather hear an honest opinion, or do you subscribe to the idea of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.
    It’s just not for me. I’ve liked other things you’ve done with the bleach pen, but this one, meh.
    But I’m glad you’re happy with it.

  8. Instant age! I like the cuffs especially- and now I can see holes where I never saw them before! I think it’s a success.

  9. do you see how happy Sweater is relaxing on those perfect chairs?

  10. Way cool.

  11. Wow! We should start calling you Braveheart Knitter!

  12. Okay, I could LIVE in this sweater. I hope you’ll post pics of it over the months as it takes more trips through the washer. I might just have to make myself one of these–when I finally feel up to the task of something larger than a baby kimono ;-)

  13. Where I come from ( about 80 miles away from where you are) we would call you a whackadoodle.
    But its a good thing.
    That’s a kick ass way of sticking it to the man, the SWEATER man.

  14. You krazy kooky kid, ya!

  15. Kay is a PUNK ROCKER!

  16. omg!! finally – something I could make that my teenage kids would actually wear!! I have been knitting since I was 8 – almost 50 now (shh) – and I can honestly say, I’ve never seen that technique before – (very sheltered life, I guess) – but I love it – looks awesome!! Rock on baby *s* ….

  17. It now has that old comfortable pj’s look. Perfect and wearable. You have definitely progressed up the ladder of coolness!

  18. Ah, the bleach! Its like highlights for your hair–strips of platinum blonde highlights in black hair, that is! So punk! When you wear it, you gotta really work it. Leave the ahir unwashed and all, slump around! You can do it!

  19. The lyrics you quoted are from “Psycho Killer” not “Life During Wartime” (which is the song with the CBGB line in it). Just sayin’.
    Go ahead, you can slap me. ;-)
    For the record, I’m not gonna bleach my denim sweater when I finish it. Even seeing how awesome yours looks, I am far too chicken!
    (Baaaaawk! Baaawk, baaawk!)
    This ain’t no mudd club, or CBCG, I ain’t got time for that now!

  20. NOOOOO!!! Sorry it has the look of something Stacy and Clinton would hurl in the trash can on What Not To Wear! I would have just kept washing it in the machine. :(

  21. hey, punk rock mum– i like it!! ciao bella,

  22. You must be mad, woman!

  23. I’m wondering if there is a 12-step program for bleachaholics…

  24. I’m with you with the bleach, in strategic places, but I don’t get the holes! I’m just so NOT “Raspy”, I guess.

  25. Wow, looks like you have had it for years now–comfy raspy.

  26. Wow, that is AWESOME!
    And you’ve convinced me. I NEED a demin sweater. Like, two weeks ago.
    Is Elann’s demin yarn even close to as good as the Rowan stuff?

  27. I SOOOOOOOOOOO LIKE THIS SWEATER! It has a real “I’VE BEEN WORN AND LOVED FOR A LONG TIME” feel to it!

  28. ooh, she crayzee! i likes it, though!

  29. As swell as it is, as much as you like it, it can not be punk. Punk “style” is not style, it is not planned, it happens because you have no money, no ambition except to have a good time (whatever that means). Bleach on a newly knit — with “mistakes” — sweater is not punk.
    I like my clothes to earn their problems. Holey kneed jeans are just not something I can buy. I wear them out, just like a good sweater.

  30. I forgot one more thing…
    if it was punk it wouldn’t ever get washed. Punks don’t have laundry machines, and rarely have quarters for coinops. They wear their clothes until they have to change them. Or until a new band shirt comes along. Or they stencil a message on another shirt or something.

  31. Truly, it is revealed that Kay is Not Of The East. Perhaps many readers have not watched closely enough to know that you are not a born-and-bred New Yorker, but even the most creative of the truly-true-through-and-through New Yorkers would think that it could be BETTER to make a garment look oh-so-casually beat up. They have a thing about “nice.”
    HOWEVER, I think your nice is nicer than “nice.” And you can use it as a barometer of eastern descent.

  32. I too, love the originial, but that is just me. There is a product on the market that will soft and take out some of the blue color of your denim. You can find it in the laundry isle, dollar store, where-ever you shop, I *believe* it comes in powder form. While I don’t like to shop there–you can probably find it at WalMart. Just a suggestion—take it or leave it…
    Patty

  33. Okay, are you ready for this? Sitting down? Good. Now it needs to take a soak in the black walnut pot. I’ll start it simmering and you come on down as soon as you can.

  34. Insane.
    Absolute insane. I thought steeking was skeeery, but to intentionally bleach a hand knit item?
    Kay, you need help. ;)
    Glad you like it..would totally suck if you didn’t!!!

  35. I think Emily’s got a point about punk clothes turning grayer, not paler the longer they’re worn. The only place punks use bleach is their hair, right?
    Anyhoo, I liked the holes in the first iteration, because it left the question hanging–did that woman do that on purpose? Let ‘em guess. But I understand the irresistible appeal of a Q tip and a bottle of Clorox. Bleach on!

  36. You and that bleach pen. I love it.
    Bought one myself. I need me some denim.

  37. I didn’t even notice the holes in the original pictures, non-observant as I am. The whole thing is not my personal style exactly, but if you like it I say go for it! and you rock! Having said that, I would make a suggestion for further bleaching: to my (admittedly non-Kay) eye, the bleached bits are a bit too obviously different from the rest. I would do some more Q-tip bleaching but with heavily diluted bleach to create some midway-between bleached spots around the really-bleached ones.
    You are a brave woman and a true artist.

  38. It’s getting there Kay – I think you will have to wear it every day now and maybe take up oil painting. WHEN is someone going to invent the indigo pen????????

  39. kewl.

  40. I’m with Lynn…bleaching–much scarier than steeking..you’re so brave! And lucky that it turned out as great as it did!

  41. Incidentally, I`d also like to see a pix of you modelling it, so that we can compare it to the original.
    (And so I can copy it better.)

  42. In my best Miss Manners voice: “very de-constructionist, dear”. Alas, like Miss Manners, I would not wear it. Period.

  43. Well, you know my thoughts on bleach and denim. You can never badly bleach a denim handknit and you can never do it too often. Looks fab. I’m sure you look fab. Did you enjoy doing it, you old punk you? (says she, playing the Sex Pistols as I type….) (will it let me say that, I wonder?) x x x x

  44. “Incidentally, I`d also like to see a pix of you modelling it, so that we can compare it to the original.
    (And so I can copy it better.)”
    I second the motion.
    All in favor, type “Aye”
    Those against, “Nay”

  45. Very punk rock – I like it! Knit on…

  46. Psycho sweater? Qu’est-ce que c’est?
    Love it!

  47. I love it! It’s sooooo cool! Very East Village!

  48. Is the substitue Texere yarn fading differently?
    You’ve convinced me, I want to knit something out of denim (you should get a kickback), I’m not ready for bleach, though.

  49. Hey ho! It’s cool!

  50. Kay! I love it! Brilliant!

  51. Oh, perfect. That is indeed the finishing touch that sends this sweater that one extra step into the winner’s circle. Good work!

  52. You are very daring, and your right it does look a lot more comfortable and a little better. I like the plain blue, but it does add something to it with the bleach.
    Looks great.

  53. I read this yesterday and thought, “Oh my god, shes nuts!!!” So I come back today, and yes, I still feel that way. :p But I’m glad you’re so happy with it!

  54. Yeah, fantastic!!! I’m very inspired. :)

  55. er, aye!

  56. So, the CBGB link connects to a CBGB history link, which connects to a Ramones and/or a Blondie link, which has listening samples from all four of the Blondie albums that I used to have….and I still remember the words. Now, where to come up with the almost $40 dollars to replace them with the remastered CD verions. I could almost feel my hair bunching up into a scrunchie as I head banged my way around the website, Union City Blue is still an awesome song. I actually was wearing a size 7 back then. In bleached jeans, and high tops and hair that was doing funny things. (sigh) Bye the way, my first grandchild is on the way.

  57. For fear that you’ll put the sweater away and look at it again, I must tell you….you improved on the pattern with creative bleaching. Most people that wouldn’t wear it bleached, might not even wear it unbleached. I just love it.

  58. I like Raspy. Can you give the location of the pattern? I thought it was the perfect sweater, but Raspy has raglan sleeves. I like that version better. It looks more relaxed and casual than the set in sleeves.
    tp

  59. I think it’s fantastic. You wanted a sweater that was comfy and liveable, and it is most absolutely certainly that and the bleach really helps it. It looks like the intentionally-distressed jeans that are so huge now.
    To me, the “sans bleach” was a little too shapeless. This has definitely kicked things up a notch and defined the shape of it. Also, I think if you wash it without a color catcher, it will keep fading and bleeding a little and get even yummier.
    I love it! Utterly.

  60. If (and I say if) the bleach gets overdone, one simply balances the scale with a color-of-the-fabric Sharpie. Problem solved. It’s all about the yin and the yang, baby.
    I LOVE the bleach.

  61. Nope, not for me. Sorry.

  62. Me – I love it!! You’re so brave! If only I had the time, I’d do the same thing but life is busy busy these days with moving down south, getting married and a new job! Only one more house move to go and then living in a building site while we extend and improve!

  63. That’s no OCD, that increasing one’s talents and a desire for self improvement – an entirely different kettle of fish. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
    Best wishes