Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fun with 80s Bad Knitting

Before going into what the heck all these pictures are just let me gloat gleefully that I finished the second sleeve on Lee's Maurizio sweater last night! All that is left is pocket edging, button band and sewing up! So, there's a good chance I will have an FO photo by the end of the week. He is really pleased, too. That last sleeve zoomed along with me having so much time to knit these days.

Blasts from the Past

I'd been meaning to take pictures of some of the old items languishing in my closet and a day spent waiting for an important job interview tomorrow (yay) seemed like a good time. I wanted to upload some of my old duds to Ravelry, so here they are for you to enjoy, too. Consider these real encouragement to new knitters. I'll show you why each of these projects from my early knitting years were sad failures.

The lilac cabled sweater: This is probably the "newest" item in this collection, and I'd had high hopes for it. It's made in "fancy" yarn (i.e., not from a big box store) and using a pattern I purchased. It was going beautifully until, alas, I ran out of yarn before the collar was finished. Of course the place I got it from (in the town where my parents lived--the first LYS I ever went to) had no more lilac yarn, and I had to get some purple to finish it. Because the purple didn't look too good, I ended the collar early, so it is floppy, and you see the reverse side of the stockinette. Ugh. And being a 70s sweater, it is incredibly short. My belly button is at least two inches below the edge of the bottom. Remember, late-70s and 80s pants came up really high. In the end, I bet I never wore this more than once or twice. Too bad. The sleeves look great.

Next we see something in an incredibly unflattering shade of orange sherbet. It looked even worse with my natural hair color. It's made out of crochet cotton (Knit Cro Sheen?) and mostly is crocheted. You can't really see the patterning unless you click on the picture to see it enlarged, but it is actually pretty cute and would have looked great in a less awful color. It is the color of my high school bedroom, by the way. The sweater has knitted edges on the sleeves and bottom, but because it cotton, there are also drawstrings on the sleeves. Probably this one could be wearable today if it weren't so doggone short. I could wear another color top under it.

Now we have one that does not have me in it. That's because it was apparently skin tight when I made it, and my skin is bigger than it was when I was a teen/early 20s person. I do believe this is a teen model. What's interesting about this one, other than the awful colors (why did I make so many yellow things? It's what my grandmother had lots of left over from other projects, I think) is that I made it from a 1920s pattern given to me by my grandmother. When she found a bunch of old 20s-40s knitting patterns and gave them to me, it was probably the nicest thing she ever did for me! The reason the sweater ties in the back is that it is such an old pattern. I love the cable arrangement on the edges and the neck--I'd like to do that again. This one is in baby-weight acrylic, which of course I ran out of (the story of my past) so the sleeves are that weird multicolor stuff. Later, I got a job and was able to purchase my own yarn, honest. Note that, of course, this one is also incredibly short. Apparently 20s people also wore high waisted skirts.

Now, here is an item that I actually bought enough yarn for. I was in grad school and had at least a few discretionary dollars. And I loved this lilac acrylic with puffs in it. It was so much fun to knit with. So much fun that I didn't notice until I was halfway finished that the cable band down the front was off center. Did I frog this and start again? Nope. I finished it, and I even wore it quite a bit until the puffs began to pill horribly. I really, really did not like to start over again when I was young. I am glad that I got over that, and also glad that I learned to not buy yarn because I like the color in the ball, but to consider whether the color looks good on ME and would perhaps go with anything else I own.

Well, lookee here. Another happy yellow sweater. Yep, someone gave me more baby weight yellow acrylic yarn. And once again it was not enough for the project I wanted to make. In this case, though, I was happy with the results on this top-down raglan sweater. When I ran out of yellow at the end, I finished it in the same yarn in the light blue colorway, did the collar in blue, and finally used duplicate stitch to add motifs around the edges, so it honestly looked like I'd planned the sweater to look that way. I wore this one a lot until pants got lower and it became too short. Of course, being acrylic, it has quite a bit of pilling.

What I Learned

I learned a lot of lessons when making these items. Here are some lessons:

  • I wrapped my yarn the wrong way when I purled so to get nice stockinette, I untwisted my stitches. Now I only wrap the wrong way on purpose!
  • Yellow, peach and lilac are not flattering colors on me even if I like them in the abstract.
  • I cast on and off way too tightly. Many of these items were hard to get on. Glad I learned new ways to do this.
  • Acrylic yarn does not last well unless it's high quality stuff.
  • If you want to make something that lasts a long time, don't go in for trends or cheap materials.
  • When I make mistakes, I now erase them. Things I thought I could "live with" like that non-centered cable pattern, actually bugged the heck out of me.
  • Trusting my intuitions is important. Many of the things I don't like about these items are things I worried about when making them. I should have paid attention to my gut feelings.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of past projects. I am glad I kept at it and got better!


  1. I love the puffs! That's so neat that you've kept even the ones you won't wear. What great materials for a history and techniques lession ;-)

  2. I love seeing other people's learning experiences! The only one I have is that blue sock that taunts me in the drawer. (~June 07) thanks for the history!

  3. Fun blog-I can't find my past knitting, but then I'm older (alot) than you are. I think that perhaps my long-gone projects were so bad that I knew it and got rid of them-except for the fisherman-knit sweater I loved and spent ten months on, and then, in my twenties, WASHED-YIKES-and felted.


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