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Living the Mad Men Dream

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Dear Kay,
If you have been watching Mad Men (and if you haven’t, go ahead and start), you have probably been mesmerized by all the weird style. I’m loving it. The whole show looks so mannered, so odd. The designers can’t resist anything having to do with the early 1960s.
Peggy the copywriter in particular has a very strange look. Fabulously dowdy, like Diana Prince before she turns into Wonder Woman.
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When I finished up my Rowena cardigan (Ravelry link) the other day, I felt a distinct Peggy the copywriter vibe wash over me:
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“Yes, Mr. Sterling, I’ll have that London Fog copy for you before lunch.”
Have I mentioned how much I LURVED making this thing? It provided all the choice elements of a good knitting project: easy part, weird part, easy part, then RIBBON SHOPPING.
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The hems turned out so tidy. It’s so great when a pattern works this way. Kudos to Mel Clark, the designer and former owner of Wildfiber in Los Angeles, who I read has moved back to New Zealand. Her book with Tracey Ullman, Knit 2 Together, provided this pattern.
The fit is looser than the fit shown in the book. The yarn specified in the book, Lana Gatto Feeling, is a wool/silk/cashmere blend. Delicious. But my Yllet 2-ply Extra has a definite mohair and wool scratchiness to it, so I wouldn’t have wanted to wear it without a layer inside.
The ruching didn’t end up being the problem that I feared it would be. I thought it might end up too stiff, not rumply, but it’s rumpling well enough. The cuffs are kind of chunky, but I think of them as sort of bangle bracelets.
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I almost went with a set of mismatched black buttons, but it seemed too loud. So I did what I always seem to do . . . shell buttons. They’re not as white in real life; they’re just superreflecty in this photo.
I wondered how the garter stitch button band would look amid all the stockinette. I worried that it would look dissonant, out of place. But it slid right up to the edge almost invisibly. VERY cool and unobtrusive.
And as for the ribbon, I love grosgrain ribbon. I keep seeing it everywhere. (I read a New Yorker profile of Lanvin’s brilliant, lilliputian designer Alber Elbaz and his ribbons–luscious slide show here. ) Had to go with grosgrain. Textile Fabrics had an even wider ribbon, more than 3 inches, which was gorgeous stuff, but I worried that I would end up channeling the mid 1980s rather than the early 1960s. I’ve already lived the mid 1980s, and you can’t drag me back there.
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Rowena looks so deflated like this! It’s really fun to wear, though, so I think I’ll be lining up for lamb ravioli at Rhinebeck with my Rowena, my girdle, my Hanes and heels.
OK maybe this Peggy the copywriter thing can only go so far.
Love,
Ann
Next up: OMG something completely different from anything I’ve ever made before. I am knitting like a maniac these days. Clearly I am procrastinating about something, but I’m not sure what . . . Everything? I’m procrastinating about everything?

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53 Comments

53 Comments

  1. Your hem is lovely! And what a buttonband! Hot stuff indeed.

  2. Beautiful! Rowena had languishing on my to-knit list for a while. Your inspiring rendering just sent it catapulting to the top. Must Knit Now.

  3. You’ve OUTDONE YOURSELF, baby!
    That Vermeer shot in the mirror–I die. I absolutely die. I die in a boat.
    I read somewhere that the character Peggy the copyrighter was based on Ann Shayne in the early 90s, “The New York Years”.
    (I’ve never seen Mad Men. I find the bus ads far too stimulating all by themselves. I get a huge Cary Grant/Eva Marie Saint rush.)
    Congrats on a fine, fine cardigan.
    xoxoxox Kay

  4. Oohh I’ve got season one of Mad Men sitting unwatched on my TV stand! I’ve been putting it off because I know once I start I won’t be able to stop. I’ve got to plan a, like, two day marathon!
    (and that hem is so cute!)

  5. Nice job! It’s a lovely sweater – almost makes we want to go watch Mad Men just by its existence. I think the ribbon totally makes it!
    As for procrastination? It’s totally possible to procrastinate about everything. Lots of fun too, although the aftermath can be ugly.

  6. I Love Mad Men. I LOVE the sweater.
    Beautiful work, and it looks beautiful on you!

  7. Wow! Looks FAB! Just perfect, all around!

  8. Yes. Love Mad Men, love Peggy, love YOU in that Rowena! The Knit 2 Together book is now on my library list.

  9. “I’ve already lived the mid 1980s, and you can’t drag me back there.” That’s how I feel about the early 60′s. I hated girdles & hose & high heels made my feet aches after awhile. Fortunately I was a teenager & better able to cope with discomfort for fashion’s sake. But I remember how happy I was when pantyhose were introduced – no more girdles or garter belts! But your sweater is gorgeous – it does have a 50′s-early 60′s vibe – but without the discomfort.

  10. “I’ve already lived the mid 1980s, and you can’t drag me back there.” That’s how I feel about the early 60′s. I hated girdles & hose & high heels made my feet aches after awhile. Fortunately I was a teenager & better able to cope with discomfort for fashion’s sake. But I remember how happy I was when pantyhose were introduced – no more girdles or garter belts! But your sweater is gorgeous – it does have a 50′s-early 60′s vibe – but without the discomfort.

  11. Would have been so nice if the Rowena (my paternal g-grandmother’s name) actually came in a size that might encompass the Bosom of Doom, but alas, no.

  12. Ann,
    I love Mad Men, too.
    Tom and Lorenzo of ProjectRungay@blogspot.com
    give incredibly detailed examinations of Mad Men.
    I think you’d love their blog.
    Jane

  13. I love, love, love Mad Men. This design would fit in so well and I think Peggy would love it too.

  14. Textile Fabrics in Nashville is the best! I’d love to see this with their colorful, handpainted silk ribbon!! Great cardigan!

  15. Procrastinating and not sure why? I do that all the time. The good news is that if knitting is how you procrastinate you are making excellent choices. The sweater is beautiful.

  16. The sweater is gorgeous! I’m tempted to call it retro, but am never completely convinced I know what is meant by that word.
    As for procrastinating… it isn’t procrastinating if you are doing it with yarn!

  17. LFN ribbon, baby.

  18. Love the cardi.
    When you mentioned dowdy and Diana Prince in the same sentence, it reminded me of my favorite lines from Season 1 of the TV show. One of Diana’s detractors referred to her as having a “wet Bisquik complexion”. I just love to say that every so often now when I need a laugh.

  19. Looks great! Reminds me that I really wanted to make that sweater when I first got the book…

  20. lovely and vintage-y– and (at least from what we can see in the mirror shot) it suits you. and dayum, THAT was FAST (or so it seems?)

  21. It looks great! Very fun, and I love the ruching.
    But no heels at Rhinebeck. You wouldn’t want to turn a well-turned ankle.

  22. love it, love it, love it!!! And I’ve loved the book ‘Knit 2 Together’ since the second it came out. This is being pushed to the top of the ‘to knit’ list!

  23. It’s beautiful! Love the ruching and the ribbon. And there’s nothing wrong with shell buttons; they go with everything!

  24. Absolutely love it! It is gorgeous!

  25. i keep seeing the sweater
    futher back in time civil
    war over hoop skirts me thinks
    with bonnet and a cloth coverd basket
    lovely garment

  26. Oh, the sweater is absolutely beautiful and then the ribbon … just perfect!

  27. gotta love mad men! Now I must knit that sweater!

  28. Very wonderful sweater! I wasn’t so sure about it from all the little glimpses but now that I se it togther . mmm-hmmmmm. And ribbon shopping, too.
    Wait- did you say you are coming to Rhinebeck?

  29. I was dubious about Rowena, but I love me a librarian look. I’m the little girl who put my hair in a bun every day, because my hero, the librarian did so, and man, I was going to grow up and be just like her. I am completely won over by the cardigan.
    Procrastination can be a fine way to get the cabinets cleaned out.

  30. Ann,that’s a beautiful cardigan and amazing craftmanship! I hardly ever make anything that’s not knit in the round and with no need of seaming (and when I do the projects stay unfinished for the longest time while I procrastinate about it!!!).

  31. This is so very tempting. I love the ruching and your beautiful hem. The buttonband! The whole thing is wonderful.

  32. I am a teacher and one of our spelling words this week is procrastinate….I read them your sentence about procrastinating about something and we are coming up with ideas of what you are avoiding…I too knit …..the students are trying to make the connection!!!!!
    I am starting a knitting club here at my school and we are going to try to do Knots of Love Chemo caps…wish us luck…..
    Pam Artese

  33. Seems I can’t knit anything these days without attaching grosgrain ribbon to it.
    Need to get season two of Mad Men from the library…
    Nice job!

  34. Hello Ann, I am loving the frequency of your posts. Wonderful sweater. I knit a white cardigan in 1963. I sewed grosgrain ribbon on the front of the button bands. I still have the pattern, but not the sweater. Back then, patterns only were written in sizes 10, 12, and 14. And the sweaters did not have lovely names like Rowena, just a number. Suzzanne

  35. This is completely lovely, vintagy, but somehow–very modern. Loverly. Love the soft gray and the grosgrain. Right on lady!

  36. Tres chic, Ann! Can’t wait to see it on you in Rhinebeck. Oh, and I wanted that Alber Elbaz story to go on forever.

  37. So. Awesome.
    I, too die on a boat.
    That color is excellent. Mucho Gloomy.
    Also, what do we think about Project Runway?

  38. Absolutely gorgeous sweater;it is just perfect. I’m with you Ann — while I appreciate the style of the early ’60s, there are certain things I WILL NOT do again. I remember being in the 7th grade, weighing 85 lbs and struggling into a girdle(that I did not need but wore because it was the THING TO DO), hooking up stockings and wearing princess heels (since nice girls that age didn’t wear anything higher, at least according to my mother) and going to dances in a friend’s barn to dance to the only 3 songs a garage band made up of my classmates could play. No wonder we were so delighted when bell bottoms and other hippie clothes came along — we were able to breathe for the first time in years. And the music was good, too.
    Anyway, I’m truly inspired by your version of Rowena and looking forward to your next project.

  39. I love your sweater. It has a lovely, 1950′s British-princess-on-her-day-off look to it. How about some flats and pearls?
    Now, about Mad Men. The look so intrigued me for awhile, until I started developing claustrophobia. All that buttoned down, trussed in, sprayed down stuff made me understand how the hippies just HAD to happen. I have a strong urge to mess up the men’s hair, and I remember feeling that way as a little girl looking at all the men in church.
    So. Start watching Glee, it is TOTALLY worth it. Especially fun if you have a high school girl to watch it with!

  40. The sweater is beautiful.
    The hem is giving me angst; I just started a fair isle and did a provisional cast-on, fold, and knit together hem and now I’m having second thoughts about the wisdom of that alteration.
    Hmmmmm.
    When I knit Rowena I will restrain my ‘clever ideas’ and do a real hem, yours is perfection. I think Gail makes a good point about structure in her comment on “Almost Ready To Go” (9/16/2009).
    What cast on method did you use?

  41. Just ducking in to say that The Singing Revolution arrived for a visit on Tuesday, worked its magic while I knit on a felted purse for foster teens, then zoomed off to Anne in NC yesterday before work. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and being part of the chain of viewers. Thanks, Ann.

  42. Hooo whee! I’m dancing at learning another new knitting term: ruching! It sounds a little Seussian to me. What a ruche.
    Most importantly, a beautiful sweater.

  43. I love, love the sweater! I almost never see a sweater that I actually would want to knit for ME but this one might just take the cake. And really, the way the button band snugs up there is sheer genius. I keep going back to look at it. Congrats!

  44. Uhhhh, could someone explain “I die in a boat” to us foreigners??? I always try to improve on my slang and this sounds super slangy to me ;-)

  45. Love your sweater!!

  46. G-r-e-a-t sweater, and looks g-r-e-a-t on, too! That mirror image/self portrait has a different, mesmerizing quality to it. Such a neat looking hem, too. I hope to be able to do one as nicely as that some day… And that ruch–gives me a rush! (sorry, couldn’t help myself–but it’s true).
    All in all, Ann, You Go, Girl!
    LoveDiane
    (BTW, if you’re often choosing shell buttons, does that mean you are a water sign?)

  47. Great job! I love anything that involves notions as well.

  48. Hi Ann,
    Lovely work on my Rowena Cardigan. It looks great on you! My intention was to make a cardigan that would be timeless, practical, glamorous and flattering, the kind of thing you could wear to drop off the kids at soccer, to a board meeting or an evening at the opera. Judging by your lovely photo, you could do all that and more! Yes, I am in New Zealand now, still designing hand knits.
    Regards,
    Mel

  49. oh, lady, this is a STUNNER!!!
    and unrelated, have you seen It Might Get Loud? Did I dream you were a White Stripes fan? even if you aren’t I really think you would dig this movie–

  50. HELlo– Rowena, Rowan, Rowenta:: is anybody else seeing a pattern here?

  51. Very Beautiful, Ann!

  52. ohhh, beautiful! ;)

  53. ohhh, beautiful! ;)