So, first up, I promised photographs of the Garland sweater…
The complete sweater – the image top right is probably closest to the true colour of the yarn.
I had fun doing this sweater – and you can see in the bottom left photo how the top is a little baggy in the back, as I mentioned last week. Though we have discovered that if I have less than perfect posture that ‘bagging’ vanishes!
At the recent Purlescence open day I also bought some beautiful buttons and some French Navy pure wool sweater yarn to finish the 1963 Twinset.
The 1963 Twinset (you can just see the dart in the bottom right picture)
For those of you who don’t know the story of the 1963 Twinset, pull up a chair and get comfortable. A friend of mine turned to me about three years ago, and (knowing my interest in vintage) asked if I would be interested in finishing a project.
It turned out that a friend of hers – a wonderful older lady with a name at least at interesting as my real name had started knitting a twinset and had never got around to completing it. The pattern she had used was a 1957 pattern, and she had started knitting this twinset in 1963.
Now, before you think this wonderful lady is an incredibly slow knitter, that’s not the case. She ran out of yarn for the placket and collar and put the project aside in early 1964, from whence it made it’s way into the attic and there it had remained until three years ago when it was handed to me.
This twinset is a work of art, the tiny stitches are so even the effect is almost of a machine knit. The darts on the top are almost invisible to the human eye. I can’t find any ends where the balls change over – just the cast on and bind off tails… and the whole thing is knit in the most amazing pillar box red.
It’s this red that created my challenge. There was no way I was ever going to match this shade of red (in fact the original knitter had tried and failed – hence it’s long purgatory) so I was in a quandary as to what to do?
First up the wonderful Susan Crawford started her vintage line of yarn – Aha! (thought I) – but no, none of the shades were quite right (though I did indeed buy some and knit the January sweater with Excelena, and what lovely yarn it is to)
The 1963 twinset sat in it’s box while the problem sat in the back of my head. Pondering. When I heard that Purlescence were now stocking Jamieson & Smith 2ply pure wool I knew I had potentially struck gold. The next open day I could make I took the 1963 twinset with me and spent a few hours on the floor with each of the 40 shades – too brown, too orange, too ‘Christmas’…. There were some surprising combinations that worked (burnt orange and bright red anyone?) but that weren’t in keeping with the period and there were several combinations that should have worked but didn’t (red and black?! why wouldn’t red and black work?). The moment we paired the French Navy magic happened. If my life had been a Disney movie there would have been singing birds, delighted squirrels and sparkle dust.
Serendipitously, Textile Garden were also there with their lovely buttons. lots of hunting and coo-ing (and extraneous buttons that I didn’t really need later) I had 10 lovely little cream buttons with a vintage navy blue abstract design on them.
So now I had yarn and I had buttons and I had a vintage twinset that I was terrified of ruining.
That night I had a dream. Literally, I really, honestly, did! You’re worried about knitting on a placket and collar and it looking weird (said my dream). You’re worried about not matching gauge, and getting it all wobbly or too tight (continued my dream). Why not crochet an edging? (cue lights going off all over, fireworks and stirring orchestral music). Indeed?! Why NOT crochet! It was actually pretty common to combine the two crafts, and by crocheting the edgings I could make sure it was exactly the right tension as I wouldn’t need to pick up and knit stitches along the edge…
The next morning I added a gravel stitch placket and collar to my lovely twinset. The next day I added the lovely buttons. And now all I need to do is give it a rinse in some lovely SOAK to full the new wool a little and refresh the 50 year old yarn.
I have realised I also need to buy a navy pencil skirt or wide-leg 40’s style trousers to wear with this creation, but truly? it’s a small price to pay. I can not wait to wear this out, and I am so proud of being able to finish this project (which, co-incidentally fits me perfectly) and do the original knitter justice. I also have plenty of yarn left over – so I’m wondering if I also crochet a detachable collar for the sweater… hmmmm…..