Old but good

Today, as Doug and I were taking a walk through the fields, I realised two things at once.  First, he was wearing a sweater which I had knit for him many years ago and which has never been featured on the blog, and second, today is Wednesday.  And voila!  A post is born!

Final 6-3

It has been awhile since I last wrote a Wearability Wednesday post, so it is definitely past time to do one again.  Wearability Wednesday is a (very occasional) feature in which I review a previously knitted garment and comment on its wearability.  You can find all of the WW posts (in reverse order) by using this link.

I knit this sweater for Doug in 2006.   This was well before I started the blog (in 2011 – my, how time flies!).  It was even before Ravelry (I joined Ravelry in 2008).  The pattern is from the Interweave Knits Fall 2006 edition, so I must have cast it on almost as soon as my subscription copy landed in the post.

Final 6

The pattern, Spartan Pullover, is designed by Kristin Nicholas. I see that you can now download the pattern electronically from Interweave Press (there is a link on the Ravelry pattern page).  The pattern called for an Aran weight wool.  Instead, I used Rowan Felted Tweed held double.  My very few notes for this pattern (which I input onto Ravelry in March 2008) say: “I substituted this yarn which was much thinner than the pattern called for so I used two strands of the yarn held together. I still had to go up a couple of needle sizes to get gauge.”

I think that this would be much better knitted up with a real Aran weight yarn.  The Felted Tweed is a very nice, heather-y, soft-next-to-the-skin yarn, but at this gauge it isn’t very sturdy.  As Doug put it today: “It doesn’t do much to block the wind.”  On the other hand, it makes for a very lightweight, comfortable sweater.

Final 6-2

I am not a great fan of the drop shoulders, and I definitely should have knitted this a size down!  Felted Tweed is very hard-wearing yarn, but I think that, even held double, it really should have been knit at a tighter gauge.  This loose gauge makes it less sturdy and gives the garment less integrity.  I am a better knitter now than I was then, and in particular, I wasn’t very good at stranding.  (Now that I think of it, this may have been my very first attempt at stranding!) I didn’t maintain the best tension, particularly in the contrast between the stockinette and stranded sections.

I like this photo, although I took it from far off so it isn’t as sharp as it could be:

Final 6-8

Doug had wandered off to help hold up this tree:

Final 6-6

Despite these few quibbles, this is a nice sweater and has held up well.  The pattern is very easy, and written fairly old school (as one did back then).  The whole pattern, including specs, charts, and schematics, fits on a page and a half.  Doug thinks it is a very wearable, comfortable pullover, and well-suited for walks in the countryside. It’s old, but good.

Like much of the world, Doug and I are pretty freaked out by events.  We are diligent about social distancing.  (This is reinforced by the kids calling every day to make sure that we have not had contact with anyone!)  We are both lucky to be able to work from home and also that we live in the countryside and so can still enjoy a walk.  I am trying to keep this blog an upbeat respite from the news right now, as I think we all need a space to relax.  I wish you all the best in strange times.  Keep safe everyone!

Little red dress

It’s definitely past time for another Wearability Wednesday post, and as today is not only Wednesday but also cold and grey and very autumnal, I’ll take the time to write one.  For those of you new to this blog, Wearability Wednesday (WW) is a semi-regular series in which I look back at some item I have knitted and examine it in terms of its wearability (I use this term mostly in its stylistic sense and not in terms of durability).  I am interested in whether the item actually gets worn, and if so, how it gets styled.   I recently wrote a post about dresses, in which I highlighted lots of great new dress patterns, so I will use this post to examine my Folded Mini Dress:

6076063740_20cccbf81e_zI loved this pattern, designed by Lynne Barr for her book, Reversible Knitting: 50 Brand-new, Groundbreaking Stitch Patterns, as soon as I saw it.  I knit it in the late summer of 2011.  I finished it while on holiday in Umbria, Italy, to celebrate my 50th birthday and my 20th wedding anniversary.  My daughter Emma took the photo above and my friend, Mark, the one below.  We were experiencing a heat wave and it was nearly 40C when we took these pictures.  I am surprised I managed to smile.

6076061910_2bbe18cc1d_zWhen I was knitting this, I was having serious problems with the pattern running way too big.  You could have fit two of me in the first try; I had to rip the whole thing out and start again.  I switched to a smaller size, and also switched to smaller needles, and still had to add nearly twice as many decreases.  I documented it all on my Ravelry page which you can find here.  It looks a bit tight in the photos above, but mostly that is because I was sweating madly in the heat and the dress was plastered to my body.

So, here we have a gorgeous dress.  How often have I worn it?  Well….never.  Why?  Isn’t it obvious?  This dress is much too short.  Despite having gone to great lengths to make the dress more fitted, I didn’t shorten it, and in fact am pretty sure that I added some length to the pattern.  Perhaps I am very long in the torso.  Whatever the reason, this dress looks fabulous as long as I don’t move.  Heaven forbid, I should sit down!

At first, I consoled myself with the fact that this dress was not made to be worn by itself as in the above photos.  First of all it is wool; knit with the lovely Rowan Felted Tweed, one of my favorite yarns.  My plan was always to wear it with a T-shirt underneath, and tights and boots.  With tights on, I reasoned, it won’t really matter if it’s a bit short.  Earlier this spring, I grabbed Leah and pressed her into camera duty, and we had a photo style shoot for this dress.  This is how I envisioned wearing it:


I really love it fashioned this way.  I think it looks fabulous.  I am wearing it with the leather jacket AnElissa bought me for my 30th birthday.  It is stylish but well-loved and worn-in.  The necklace was a gift from my Dad over 30 years ago and matches perfectly.  The boots are Valentino, and I splurged on them nearly 20 years ago, and love them to pieces.  But the fact remains that the dress only looks good here because I have tugged the skirt into place and then not moved until the photo was taken.  If I take a step, lift my arms, or sit down, this dress moves out of the “looking great” stage and into the “mom, you’re embarrasing me” stage.


I have spent two years trying to decide whether to rip the dress out, all the way down to the top of the folded cables, add another four to six inches of cables, and then re-knit the bodice.  I actually have plenty of yarn left over in the same dye lot.  I also know it would go much faster the second time.  The pattern has a lot of fiddly bits along the armholes and neckline.  This is because the dress is designed so that it could be worn with either side in front, and also so that it can be worn inside out (the reverse side is equally cool).  This is one of the things that really attracted me to the pattern in the first place.  It is very, very clever. (In fact, the whole book is full of reversible designs, and is really great; I highly recommend it.)  I am pretty sure that I would always wear it this way, however, which means if I were to re-knit it, I could get rid of the fiddly bits, and just pick up around the arms and neckline for ribbing in the standard fashion.

Somehow, though, there is always something new to knit, and the thought of ripping and re-knitting this (yet again) just doesn’t appeal.  So what to do?  Is this beautiful dress destined for the frog pile?  Well, it should be noted that a dress which is too short on a 52 year old, looks pretty damned good on an 18 year old:

IMG_5997See!  She can jump in it!  She can walk in it!

IMG_5978She can even sit in it!

IMG_5968Clearly, the solution to this Wearability conundrum is to give the dress to Leah!  Way to go, Leah!  You lucked out big time!