For the look of Relax in a worsted weight yarn, take a look at Worsted Boxy.

Department of Why We Do This

Dear Ann,
Wednesday, aka The Hottest Day of My Life No Kidding, I shlepped into the city for a couple of very pressing reasons. One was to look at a slab of stone in a stoneyard in Brooklyn. I was very curious to see what a stoneyard in Brooklyn looks like, and it did not disappoint. Acres and acres of slabs, all neatly filed in wooden slab-holders, and a leviathan of a machine with giant clothes-pin thingies that could pick up individual slabs as if they were playing cards, to show the people. Plus, the person who guided us through the stoneyard was a lady. A lady who could really talk Stone. I missed my Gramps. He liked to look at stone. He would have recognized some of the stones as old Italian friends.
The other reason, even more pressing, was to attend one of the monthly meetings of my newly formed Craft Nite, consisting of me and –oh the delicious, victorious irony–two of my former bosses from my US Attorney’s Office days. Jane had reached the ‘need-to-purl’ stage in her knitting journey, and I wanted to Be There for her, in the most supportive way possible. (Do you remember learning how to purl? How DIFFERENT it seemed from knitting? How USELESS it was when your teacher said, ‘It’s really just backwards knitting”?) Our other member, Nancy, does needlepoint. (Do you know what an epic event the finishing of a needlepoint is? It’s like the World Cup, only maybe not so frequent.)
nancyneedlepoint.jpg
There was much rejoicing when Nancy unfurled the needlepoint. Nancy is deciding how far to needlepoint around the edges, but otherwise it’s pretty much a done deal. Ready for a visit to the Needlepoint Day Spa, where it will be made into a velvet-backed cushion to reside in perpetuity on a yellow chintz sofa, fulfilling its Needlepoint Destiny of being admired while reposing on chintz.
But the main event of Wednesday evening’s Show & Tell was this:
janelabel.jpg
Jane brought out two cardigans that had been made for her by her aunt Rose Vera. I will show only one, because the other is in a Color No Longer In Fashion. (I don’t want to hurt anybody. We’re talking Harvest Gold meets Near Chartreuse.)
janejacket.jpg
Jane received this jacket when she was 14, and wore it a lot. Yet it has never been repaired. It looks brand new.
I examined it very carefully.
janezipper.jpg
The zipper. I was stunned by the handsewing on the zipper.
Jane has 3 sisters and a brother, and her aunt made multiple cardis for all of them, plus for all of Jane’s cousins, plus for the offspring of these siblings and cousins. Jane said they all were very similar, made of good plain wool in simple styles. I wondered if Aunt Rose Vera had a basic pattern in her head that she always made, but Jane was adamant that her aunt ALWAYS uses a pattern.
So why do we do this, this knitting thing? Because Jane, a grownup woman with a grownup (well nearly!) son of her own, has kept these little cardis all these years, in a readily accessible place, in case somebody like me should drop by to admire them. They are a tangible memory of somebody caring enough to hand-sew a zipper into a cardigan for her to wear to school. (This we know: there is no greater love than installing a zipper.)
So meditate on that, and cast on another kid sweater willya?
Love, Kay

49 Comments

49 Comments

  1. what a beauty that sweater is — the neckline – the contrasting color. maybe this should be deconstructed and rebuilt – pattern wise – for our perfect sweater project ….

  2. Okay, now I feel guilty for ignoring the yarn that wants to be my niece’s sweater. I resolve to be a good Aunt and cast on this weekend.

  3. what beautiful FOs–it’s amazing what we do just because we love crafting and for the love of the recipient–that sweater (and all of Jane’s Aunt’s sweaters) is proof of that. i mean, hand-sewn zippers??? wow…what beautiful craftsmanship, on both FOs. love the label too.

  4. Looks like Aunt Rose Vera was an Elizabeth Zimmermann fan. :) From the photos, it looks as if the body of the sweater is knitted in one piece back and forth and the sleeves grafted on. Do you know if this is the case?

  5. Is that a mitred corner on the neck / zip band I see?

  6. Ahem, how else would you sew a zipper into a wool sweater? Like, with a machine, are you crazy??

  7. So cool! And isn’t that the truth. Anytime anyone around here is having a baby they look at me wistfully and say, “Do you have any spare blankets you’ve made around?” And I say, absolutely not! This one must be specially made for this baby! It does mean so much. I still have all the afghans my grandmother made for my family.
    Thank you for sharing.

  8. Excuse me. I have to go cast on a sweater for my son now.

  9. Hi, Kay. Does the former boss you worried about bumping into on the subway while knitting count among the Craft Nite participants? I hope so! Stay cool.

  10. I have always said (to students I may teach)that, we are creating heirlooms. People the proof is here in this post. Not only are we creating pillows that will get to know a 1,000 butts, blankies that will warm
    children that arn’t even born yet.AS WELL, the people that get these works of art (flaws and all) will remember us as people.Moms, sisters,friends will rember you the maker and the time and love you took to make something for them. We are creating heirlooms.
    Be proud. And keep knitting. denny

  11. I have always said (to students I may teach)that, we are creating heirlooms. People the proof is here in this post. Not only are we creating pillows that will get to know a 1,000 butts, blankies that will warm
    children that arn’t even born yet.AS WELL, the people that get these works of art (flaws and all) will remember us as people.Moms, sisters,friends will rember you the maker and the time and love you took to make something for them. We are creating heirlooms.
    Be proud. And keep knitting. denny

  12. I have always said (to students I may teach)that, we are creating heirlooms. People the proof is here in this post. Not only are we creating pillows that will get to know a 1,000 butts, blankies that will warm
    children that arn’t even born yet.AS WELL, the people that get these works of art (flaws and all) will remember us as people.Moms, sisters,friends will rember you the maker and the time and love you took to make something for them. We are creating heirlooms.
    Be proud. And keep knitting. denny

  13. I have always said (to students I may teach)that, we are creating heirlooms. People the proof is here in this post. Not only are we creating pillows that will get to know a 1,000 butts, blankies that will warm
    children that arn’t even born yet.AS WELL, the people that get these works of art (flaws and all) will remember us as people.Moms, sisters,friends will rember you the maker and the time and love you took to make something for them. We are creating heirlooms.
    Be proud. And keep knitting. denny

  14. opps sorry

  15. opps sorry

  16. Ya comments the new heirloom make lots

  17. Ya comments the new heirloom make lots

  18. I love that sweater! And those details! It actually appears to be that rare object: A garter stitch sweater I totally and completely dig.

  19. Ok, so I will find a pattern for that daughter (13, need I say more) who is so hard to please, but just last night, said she’d like a sweater “kind of like my old blue one with the star buttons, only bigger”. I’ll knit some love to send her off to school in, and put away the blue sweater for whatever the future brings.
    I’m guessing the new sweater won’t have “star” buttons. And I sew in my zippers by hand too – really, it’s worth it.

  20. So good to hear! Also, my husband’s grandmother’s name was Vera Rose, which children didn’t know until after her passing. She went by Rose and they thought Vera was a middle name or nickname or something. It must have been a popular name at the time!

  21. Fitted shoulders in garter stitch… I’m not sure I love anyone that much.
    Aunt Rose Vera was a heck of a knitter. And a loving auntie, as well.

  22. oh my gosh – aren’t stoneyards GREAT?!??! my mom dragged me to ours to show me the slab for our new countertops last time i was home…i was thinking, ok, humor my mom, she’s excited…but OH MAN!!!
    so much stone.

  23. I love the sweater! I’ve only ever sewn zippers on by hand, but never on a sweater- bags, mostly.
    Would probably sew a sweater zipper on by hand, too, though… of course I say that now, but I feel like it gives me more control…
    That needlepoint is gorgeous. I DO NOT have the patience for that, to be sure.
    And ahhh… the purl stitch! I’m just teaching my dad to knit while he recovers from some surgery. If it goes anything like teaching him to e-mail, then I’ll need copious amounts of wine, and patience. :)

  24. Wow, the needlepoint is so beautiful, and the sweater is so simply lovely.

  25. I have this pattern – it’s an old Candide pattern, I think. I’m not at home (or anywhere near it at the moment) but I think it is still in print. Anyone interested in more specifics, email me. I hope my nieces and nephews will treasure their items this way!

  26. That is a beautiful post! I love the tangible history (and love!) crafty things have.

  27. my mother is handsewing a zipper onto a sweater she knit for my oldest son right now! and i will keep the sweater for the baby to wear when he’s bigger. then pack it and keep it for others to admire. knitting is soooo great.

  28. I love this sweater. I am coveting this sweater. I must have a sweater like this for my very own. Does this mean I have to knit one? Mercy.
    Also, I am now filled with even more guilt at not finishing the little niece’s halter top. It needs to be cast on. Perhaps this weekend as the little friend’s afghan is now nearly done.

  29. What a great cardigan. Having such a cool knitter/hand seamer behind it makes it that much better.
    I hope the sweaters my Grandma made for all the grandbabies last that long. My sister still has a beautiful white Irish Aran my grandma made for her seventeen years ago.

  30. Thanks for that Kay, it is a beautiful sweater. As for Harvest Gold meets near Chartreuse, I think I have recently given mine in that colour to the Salvation Army!!!! Not sure that will EVER come back into fashion.

  31. I am glad someone mentioned the stone, because all along I am thinking, why the stone slab? Counter?
    The sweater is beautiful, and I am “guiltiful”, I cannot cast-on as many projects as I would need to for the children, nieces and nephews, and great niece, that I would have to, so I must learn to knit faster. Knit faster. Knit faster…Knit faster.

  32. Marylou – do let us know about the pattern when you get a chance to check on it…

  33. Love the sweater, wish you took pictures of the stone.
    Annie -how cute are you teaching your dad to knit!?

  34. Why are you keeping the Chartreuse from us? I speak for all of your LES/f-train/splinter friends when I say: We want to see the Chartreuse!! BTW, I still cherish many crocheted items made by Grandma 30 years ago, not the least of which is a fabulous bubble-gum-pink poncho.

  35. Heart shaped buttons. My aunt used to knit for us when we were little. I was the oldest by a month. Then her first daughter. We had mathcing stuff. I loved it. I’m already knitting little sweaters for my grandkids and no one is even pregnant yet!!!! The one step daughter is in Wyoming. She’ll need little sweaters. Good ones. Maybe some with hoods and little heart shaped buttons. ;)

  36. I forgot to put my email in my comment. marylou.egan AT gmail.com. When I get home on Tuesday I’ll check the pattern.

  37. I have 2 sweaters just like that hanging in my youngest daughter’s closet. They were given to my oldest son by my mom when we lived in Germany. (My Dad and husband were both in the Army and we lived 30 min apart for 2-1/2 yrs and Oma did a lot of shopping for/visiting with my 3 oldest!) The cardis are both a heathery grey and have loden green trim with a thin red accent and both have zippers (tho not, alas, hand sewn). The toddler size has matching knit “lederhosen” and Tyrolian kneesocks and the preschool age size has actual leather (grayish with dark green) lederhosen and kneesocks. We also have my oldest daughter’s little red leather lederhosen and cream Tyrolian kneesocks with red and green flowers embroidered on them, and her dirndl complete with button on apron. They are being preserved for the next generation to be photographed in!

  38. This isn’t related to this post, but I wasn’t sure if you’d seen that there will be a set of Gee’s Bend stamps released this month:
    http://shop.usps.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10152&storeId=10001&categoryId=11834&productId=26203&langId=-1

  39. Great post, Kay. I agree, SHOW ME THE CHARTREUSE! From what I’ve seen walking the streets no color is out of bounds these days! And I say RIGHT ON! We don’t need no stinkin’ marketing experts to tell us what colors we should or shouldn’t like!
    As for that sweater – o sweet manna from Heaven. It makes me want to go ripping through every box, container, and cupboard I have just to commune again with every goody my mom, aunts, and grandmas have ever made me.
    The pattern rocks and I think I want it! Off to e-mail marylou.
    cheers.

  40. Check out the mitred corners on that cardi! the subtle play of stripe and garter texture! the tone-on-tone neutrals of the sweater, highlighting the shape of the wearer….EZ would be so proud. I’d be proud to have made one of those too….I may have to steal that striped border. While giving credit to the granny, of course! gotta credit the sources…

  41. Oh, Kay, what you do to me. I was thisclose to donating 2 cardigans I knit for my 2 yo, that haven’t fit her in over a year. I wasn’t sure I had it in me to move it from the “to be donated” pile to the actual donation bin, but now I know I can’t. What if she joins a crafting group in 35 years? What will she show them? What kind of mother am I?

  42. I agree with you this is the hottest summer that I can remember. It’s a chore just to go out and feed my hummingbird friends. Pardon me everyone;but I have to say this, “Hi my name is Renee and I am a yarnaholic!!!” I just got back from the yarn store and omg I can’t believe what I just done. Let me back up a minute. First off I’ve only been knitting a short time before I picked up the Mason Dixion Knitting book. Before I knew it the bug hit me. And it hit me in a huge way. The first project was something simple like the baby bib o’ love for my friend. Armed with more confidence I went to a basket weave baby blanket and today to the yarn store for yarn for a logcabin throw. But it didn’t stop there…yarn for socks, hat, scarf, and a dozen other prject along with assorted circular needles. And I don’t miss a posting on this website. Certainly I don’t miss a day without knitting. And already I’m hiding stash. hehehehe. Happy knitting everyone.

  43. I am Jane’s sister and also have been gifted with gorgeous sweaters over the years. My aunt who will be 84 this fall still knits. The last family gift was a multi-colored cardigan for my foster grandbaby Annie. Annie is 10 months old.

  44. Loved seeing the craft group and especially Nancy’s needlepoint!
    I’m an avid needlepointer (you ought to see my stash!) and a beginner knitter (much smaller stash or at least at this point!) and I loved seeing a needlepoint piece on a knitting blog.
    Anyone interested in needlepoint check out the American Needlepoint Guild at;
    http://www.needlepoint.org/index.php
    Way to go Nancy!
    Cynthia
    Windy Meadow

  45. Ah ! Needlepoint. Slow death. And sore on the fingers … or maybe I wasn’t doing it right ?? Although I had many childhood sweaters knit for me, none would have merited show and tell. Falling, as they did, into the “Was NEVER a Colour in Fashion” category. My Grandmother – not so good with the colour sense.
    Is Jane’s knit out of some indestructible 60’s / 70’s yarn, it’s worn so well ?

  46. Amen, sister.
    I’m finally reconnected to the world! Hi, Kay! Once Ivana stops her constant bawling, I’ll be back in touch with the world. It’s pretty un-hot here. Come for a visit. NOW.
    Hi, Ann!

  47. what a great looking sweater! To bad there isn’t a pattern to go with it.

  48. OK, I came home, did my research and this pattern is no longer in print. I have long wanted to redo it, as the fit is very Fifties – tight, high armholes, fitted sleeve cap that is very fitted. So, I plan to re-write for modern sizing. I am open to suggestions re. armhole – modified drop, modified set in? Email me – marylou.egan@gmail.com. I should have my page up and running soon – KAL? Perhaps the MDK folks will pass on info re. pattern readiness.

  49. Am I the only one who wants to see the OTHER sweater too?!!