Vintage knit

This is a lovely couple – the year is 1947.

ben and Bonny  at train station 1947

They are young, and gorgeous. But they don’t look all that happy – you see, the girl, Bonny, is headed on a train trip with her grandmother, who is scheming to separate the young couple because this young man, Ben – well, he’s a “catch” — handsome, from a good family, with a job in the family business. Grandmother thinks a little separation will make him move on his intentions.

The dress – that is a hand-knit dress, custom-knit for the girl by her grandmother. And you know what? Bonny still owns that dress more than 60-odd years later. See?

Knitted dresses

This is well-knit – you can see that the knitter planned her pleats well.
Knitted dresses

Her waist treatment is pretty ingenious – all you have to do to keep it working is replace the elastic, which probably has happened in the last 60 years.
Knitted dresses

She also added in some cable-ribbing at the shoulders. Still looks great.
Knitted dresses

And those buttons are lovely.
Knitted dresses

There’s another dress like it (And a skirt too – but it’s black and doesn’t photograph very well):
Knitted dresses
Knitted dresses
Knitted dresses

The fiber is wool – probably some kind of bouclé yarn, by the feel of it. The dresses and skirt have stretched a bit, but they are still wearable! I am so impressed with the knitter, and the recipient for saving them all these years. Bonny gave her grandmother’s knitting needles to her niece recently – apparently they were made of bone!

And how about that couple – well, on the way back West, Ben and his father met Bonny and her grandmother in Arizona – no waiting until they got back to Pasadena. Grandmother’s scheming worked! By Easter they were engaged:
ben and bonny Easter Sunday 1947-2

They married, raised three children, had numerous grandchildren, and now a great grandchild, Myles:


Ben died last year at the age of 91 – he and my mom were birthday twins who celebrated their birthdays each year. He was a grand man. And Bonny is still a lovely woman, who can still wear the black skirt and one of the dresses. Because that’s how handknits knit with such love should be treated.

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By Design

I just got a lovely book by the knitting maven Sally Melville, who used to write books all the time with XRX books. Somehow, there was a falling out, and she isn’t anymore, but she just published an amazing book called Knitting Pattern Essentials. (She also has a great blog – if you like check it out here.)

But back to the book. This is a terrific book for anyone who wants to adapt patterns, copy a favorite sweater, or design a brand new one.  It’s simple chock-full of great advice on knitting, in addition to being great for anyone wanting to knit a garment that fits. I found myself nodding and oohing and ahhing on almost every page. Simply one of the best books I’ve seen in a while on this topic!

I’m using her book to design a new tank top with beading, and I will let you all know how it comes out – I’m pretty excited because I tried out on a swatch my own little adaption of a beading method for a cute detail, and it worked!

I’m behind on my own design work – I have a cowl pattern that is pretty close (except that I need to finish it, and put on some button!), and then I have almost finished this cardigan —
Simple Cable Cardigan 1l

and I got an unsolicited message on ravelry asking to be notified when the “pattern” is published. Er. Wow! I hadn’t thought of that. You see, I’ve been knitting so long that I just add in stitch details to a basic template (I love using Sweaters 101 – she has a ton of templates at the back for various styles of shoulders) and don’t remember that other people would like someone to do the math and create the stitch chart, thank you very much.  So now I’m pondering creating a written pattern (which would be a good idea, since it could adapt easily across various sizes).

And finally, this is an “in memoriam” moment is for, wait — a pair of socks.

2nd socks

This is the second pair of “real” socks that I made for me. The first pair, made out of some lovely mountain colors yarn, went to the sock heaven a number of years ago because I didn’t know to knit socks tightly, and they wore out.  These socks were probably knit about 8 years ago, and therefore qualify for social security, since sock years go even quicker than dog years.  I think they are made of Koigu, but this was BF before Ravelry, so I didn’t keep track of any project details. In a coincidence, they were knit mostly according to a pattern in The Knitting Experience Vol 2:  Purl Stitch by Sally Melville, but I added the edging from Lucy Neatby’s Cool Socks, Warm Feet book.  They’ve been mended a least a couple of times, and while I did mend them again last night, when I put on the sock, the mend was so large and uncomfortable that I realized that the end had come – it’s time to give them up. But hey, that means that I can knit more socks (plus I have a couple of pairs ready to go into rotation anyway!).

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Some Assembly Required

I love cardigans – they are truly useful and adaptable garments – you can put them on and fully fasten, or have them open for cooling, and take them off and put over your shoulders for keeping a chill off. A cardigan is, to me, way more useful than a pullover (your mileage may vary).

This cardigan  (of my own design, some details here ) will go to Afghanistan through Afghans for Afghans, where it will find a home with a girl who is at school, which in that culture is a revolutionary act to some. Wanna knit one of the 500 sweaters we need for this campaign? Click on the link for Afghans for Afghans.

Simple cable cardigan

It requires some assembly – that is – it has finishing. I’ve minimized some of the assembly by knitting the fronts and backs as one piece.  This may mean that it will get a little long, but that can actually be good in a place where garments are long and loose.  I could have knit together the shoulders in a three-needle-bind off, but I won’t do so on purpose, because this is a heftier yarn and I want very stable seams at the shoulder.

Simple cable cardigan

I also could have knit the sleeves top-down seamlessly, but again, I’ve chosen not to.  With this thick yarn, I think having a seamed sleeve-cap is a good idea, and seams down the sleeve will ensure that they don’t get so long as to be in the way.

Some assembly is required, but I am glad of it!  There is also a plan to dye the finished garment, but that will wait for another day…

Seams can be our friends, and I’m anxious to see how this all turns out.

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