May 1962: In a Cooler Trend for Summer

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EDIT June 20, 2020: Finished!

May 2020 went quickly and is already over, but (spoiler…) my May 1962 project didn’t get finished until June. It was a lightweight pullover in 3-ply wool with three-quarter sleeves and a lacy yoke, simple, elegant and “in a cooler trend for summer.”

I bought the wool — Regia 3-ply, which has long been discontinued — from a wonderful little wool shop in my town that used to sell and maintenance hand knitting machines as well. It was a tiny, one-woman operation with unpredictable business hours, whose elderly owner lived in the apartment above the shop.  She often had vintage second-hand knitting machines for sale and I always meant to buy one, but the times when she had one available and the times when I was able to actually find the store open never seemed to coincide, and sadly, she passed away last year. There were no knitting machines left in the close-out inventory sale, but still plenty of fine-ply wool, which is almost impossible to find in normal wool shops these days. RIP lovely little store and lovely lady who ran it! I will think of you whenever I wear this jumper.

In spite of the fine wool and small needles (2.5 mm), I was unable to get the required tension of 8 stitches and 10 rows to an inch, so I adapted and made the smallest size, which should come out to fit me. I say “should” because the lace pattern used on the sleeves and yoke bunches together quite a lot before blocking. I blocked both sleeves on the needles to try and measure it out (see photos…) but I still wasn’t sure if they would fit properly onto the yoke. They did, with no further alterations.

The only real alteration that I made (besides making the body in the round to save time and seaming) was to alter the decreases on the front and back after the armhole bind-offs and before the beginning of the yoke. The pattern is written with identical back and front pieces, but I wanted the yoke to hang down further on the neck on the front than on the back, so I make the back pre-yoke part longer and the front pre-yoke part shorter by decreasing more or less frequently than in the pattern.

The lace stitch refused to block out flat, no matter what I did. I wash-blocked, stretched and pinned both sleeves before making the yoke (see photo above) and they had bunched up again by the time I was done knitting. I wash-blocked, stretched and pinned the whole garment after completion and the sleeves bunched up again five minutes after I unpinned it (dry). I pinned the sleeves and steamed them, then ironed them with the same result. Did I mention that this yarn is 75% wool and 25% acrylic, which normally blocks for good when any kind of heat is applied? Well, no matter what I did, it didn’t take. The yoke stretches out naturally while worn, but the sleeves bunch up. Since they are supposed to be below-elbow-length anyway, I decided to call it a design feature and live with it.

On the whole, I’m quite happy with it, and it’s the perfect weight for cooler summer days.

March 1962: Twin-set jumper

Version 2Greetings from the Covid-19 lockdown! March 1962’s project sports the headline “Ready for the Easter Parade” in the magazine, but there are definitely not going to be any Easter parades in March 2020. I hope all of you, dear readers, are staying healthy and staying home.

I made the jumper from this lovely “best-dress” twin-set in an easy flattened-rib pattern with added cross-stitch embroidery. It’s written for 4-ply wool, but the child I knit it for can’t wear wool and the warmer months are coming, so I made it in cotton. And I finally found a cotton yarn that is non-mercerised and fine enough for me to get 7 stitches to the inch with it — Cotton 8/4 by the Danish brand Mayflower. It’s even organic! Sadly, there wasn’t enough yarn left in the shop to make the cardigan, said shop has decided not to re-order this yarn and Mayflower doesn’t seem to do direct sales via its website, so if I want to make the cardigan, I’ll have to see where else I can order some more.

The pattern was easy and my only modifications were to close the back neck opening with snaps and a button instead of a zipper and to forego the blanket-stitch embroidery around the neck, which I thought didn’t go well with the cross-stitch embroidery. It was a fun project and I hope the little girl for whom I made it will enjoy her birthday present.

Sorry for the very short post, but there’s really not much more I can say. Stay tuned for the year-long saga of the 1940s twin-set, which might actually be drawing to a close now that I have lots and lots of time at home to knit.

January 1962: Softly Fitting

IMG_3026UPDATE AND EDIT February 25, 2020: Project finished!

It was hard to decide what to make from the January 1962 issue, since more than one pattern was enticing. The most practical of all of them would have been the cabled cardigan, since I could really use a black, midweight, go-with-everything cardigan right now. However, I decided to go with the jumper from this lovely “softly fitting” twinset (“softly fitting” as opposed to the tighter, waist-length twinsets of the late 1950s). The pattern calls for “Cameo Crepe”, a smooth 4-ply wool, but I knew this project would be perfect for “Concept Silky Lace”, the merino-silk blend from the company Katia from which I made the wonderful orange sleeveless top last summer.

IMG_3025There were only two problems. Problem number one: Concept Silky Lace is only available in colours I don’t wear (shades of white and pastel) as well as orange (great, but I used it for the other project), a sort of light jeans blue (OK, but not exciting) and purple. Purple is not my best colour, but given the limited choice and the fact that I really wanted to use this specific yarn, I went with it. That led to problem number two: there were only two balls of it in the store and they had to order more.  Unsure whether the two additional balls I ordered would be from the same dye lot or if it would make a difference if they weren’t, I started by making the sleeves with the yarn I had, and waited.

And waited.

IMG_3046It took more than two weeks for the yarn to arrive, so I was woefully behind. Also, the yarn that arrived was from a different dye lot, so I wasn’t sure how to camouflage the colour changes or if I even had to. After making the ribbing for the body in the “old” yarn and the body (stockinette stitch, and I decided to do it in rounds to go faster) with the new yarn and not noticing any difference, I just used up the old yarn and moved onto the new in the fancy-yoke part. It worked fine and didn’t make a stripe — thank you Katia for your excellent colour-match dye work.

IMG_3100Once the project got started, it was finished very quickly. I was worried about the size, as it seemed to stretch quite a lot width-wise and I though it would be too wide and baggy. Once it was bound off and sewn, it was fine. I made it an inch longer in the body than it said to make it in the pattern, but I could have made it even longer — people were really short fifty years ago!?! Blocking helped stretch out the length.

It is wonderfully soft and clingy and will keep me warm and/or cool in every temperature. I like the colour and it looks good alone or under a blazer, with skirt or trousers, etc. It was easy and fun to knit, has a cool design and the pattern was well-written. A great project all around!

March 1960: John’s new pullover

IMG_1550My second project for March — though it wasn’t finished by the end of the month — was a young boy’s pullover with a cute stripe-and-dot pattern.

Sadly, there is no colour photo in the magazine, the two contrasting colours look very similar in the black-and-white photo, and the little chart for the dot pattern doesn’t mention which colour should be used for which row of dots, so it’s not entirely clear what order the dot stripes go in. The main colour is “Moonstone”, the bottom stripe is stripe is “Horizon Blue” and the second stripe “Camel”, so I figured the bottom row of dots is also blue and the second row camel.

In any case, my colour scheme was different, as very light-colored garments for young active children are bound to get grubby, so I picked a sort of heathery grey-beige for the main colour. Camel as a contrast to that didn’t look so great, so I picked a nice shade of plum and a heathery blue. The yarn is plain Regia sock yarn — superwash wool with a bit of nylon for support.

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I though the skeins looked great together but somehow, as I started to knit it up, the colour combination reminded me of jogging clothes from the 1980s. I don’t know why, exactly, but it’s something about that exact combination. I wholeheartedly hate 1980s fashion and am very disappointed to see it having come back in during the last few years, so I wish I had picked something different! On the other hand, nobody else is going to be bothered by it — a young kid won’t be prejudiced and the parents will probably think it amusing if they even make the connection.IMG_1591

The stranding is easy and the main pattern is just stockinette stitch with an extra purl ridge row (K on the right side) every 6th row.

At 7 stitches to the inch, it took a while, and I had to restart once as my gauge was too loose, but I do love the finished look and I hope the wearer will too. I reassured him that he doesn’t need to wear a button-up shirt, tie and shorts with it. Again, if anyone can explain to me why boys of bygone decades had to wear shorts until they were teenagers, no matter how cold outside or how warmly they were dressed on the top half of their bodies, I will be grateful!

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January 1960: Green check jumper

greencheck_issuefoto2My knitting project from this issue was a houndstooth-check jumper, made in double knitting wool in two shades of green. Large checked patterns of this type were popular this year, which is presumably why Stitchcraft categorized this jumper as “fashion knitting” rather than “casual knitting”.

I love the big green collar and the interplay of the two colours. What I didn’t like as much was the pattern itself. It looked fine in the photos but in a swatch, I found it looked too much like plusses or crosses and not like what I think of as houndstooth. Also, the straight vertical placement of the stitches made the fabric pucker. I experimented with a couple of other houndstooth variations and decided on the second one (lower swatch in photo.)greencheck_2swatches

My only other intended modifications were minimal: knitting it in the round with invisible fake “side seams” instead of in pieces with real seams, as I don’t like purling in two colours, and making the sleeves full-length instead of the 3/4 or 7/8 shown in the photos. However, once the body and upper back were finished, it looked as though the upper back would not be wide enough. I suppose the average Stitchcraft reader of 1960 was not particularly athletic, by modern standards… The shoulder width was fine, so the solution was to simply space the decreases from the beginning of the armhole farther apart (at each end of every 4th row instead of every other row). I did the same on the upper fronts and increased the total stitch count on the upper arms by 4 stitches, making the decreases more gradual on the sleeve caps as well.

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The pattern calls for Patons Double Quick Knitting. I got a good gauge (6 sts to an inch in pattern) and a fantastic colour match with Patons Diploma Gold DK, a wool-acrylic-nylon blend. I had plenty of it on hand from a frogged project, but the work in progress was nubbly. I thought it would get smooth again with blocking, but alas, the original project was probably blocked “too well” and the finished product is not quite smooth. Since it’s the same all over, though, I decided to think of it as a design feature.

The fit is excellent, everything worked out wonderfully and I am very satisfied with the final result.