One from the vaults.
Everything old is new again…sort of. I’ve been a knitter and a crocheter for most of my life. I’m the daughter of a life long knitter and crocheter. Some of my fondest childhood memories of the fiber arts world were the arrivals of the magazines. My mum went grocery shopping every two weeks and, while my siblings flocked like seagulls around the peanut butter to see who would be the first to put a finger track through the virgin smoothness of a freshly opened tub, I would make a dive for the knitting magazines that periodically graced our shopping bags. The hours I spent pouring over the designs and trying to figure out which sweaters I would ask Mum to make for me…or, later, which ones I wanted to make myself.
To this day, I don’t have subscriptions. I love the hunt and the moment of serendipity when I run across a tried and true favorite, or discover a new title. Interweave and VOGUE probably wish I would just go ahead and subscribe, but then the joy of pulling a fresh copy out of a shopping bag would be lost.
And I am nostalgic enough to have saved many of them. My mother’s hand written notes or hash mark in the margins where she modified a pattern or was counting rows are part of my knitting legacy. Like a scrap book, they make my past so immediate. There’s no way I’ll part with them. I’m also nostalgic enough to pick up back issues and genuine antiques when I run across them. I have boxes and boxes of old McCall’s and 101 Sweaters Workbasket from the 1950’s onward.
You see, I owe a debt of gratitude not only to my mum for teaching me the stitches, but also to the stable designers whose name I never knew and the editors who kept putting out the information I craved. It was in the pages of these magazines that I learned to be a knitter. It was there I learned my psso from my k2tog. It was there I learned my sleeve length to blouse size ratios. It was there I developed my sense of knitwear fashion…and color…and fit…and proportion…and the passage of time.
Let me share with you something fabulous…
Remember the 80’s? I know you’re tempted to roll your eyes and mutter something about big hair and awful color blocking, or the decade long obsession with Victorian florals. Or maybe you’re a hipster with a nostalgic eye for the retro statement of dolman sleeves. Okay, I admit all of it. But there are a few other things in these pages. Look at this beauty.
I know, I know. No one is ever going to put me a mock turtle neck again, either. I have no real neck to speak of and the mock turtle line just makes me look like Uncle Fester. And I gave up shoulder pads a long time ago. And a great sweater should never stop at the natural waist. And the gathered sleeve caps; don’t even get me started on the gathered sleeve caps. But here’s the deal. Once you’ve learned the building blocks of great design and how to manipulate them modifying this pattern for an updated fit is quick and easy. And all that’s good about this pattern is still there for you to use. The lace work is very pretty. The proportion of vertical stripes to graceful arches is eye catching and flattering. If you’re looking for a spring/fall sweater or something to layer under a blazer for business wear, you could go farther and fare worse. It only takes a little reworking. Shorter sleeve cap and deeper armhole, scoop neck, longer waist. Can you see it?
A little imagination, a good handle on the building blocks and a little time and this gem gets a new lease on life. And it was in the pages of this magazine and ones like it that I learned the imagination, the building block and how to manipulate them. Because of them, I’m the boss of my knitting and I can do what I want. The next time you see an old magazine at a yard sale or in a book shop, take a minute to see what’s inside. Or if you ask at OTR, I’ll show you some of my collection and we can parse it together. There’s gold in them thar pages…and everything old can be new again.