Monday, February 01, 2016

Connecting to knitters' past: A UFO tale

If you've been a knitter for any length of time, this might have happened to you... one of my husband's work colleagues is a knitter.  Her knitting friend passed away.  Friend's husband gave the Professor's colleague some knitting.  One day, the Professor speaks with her in the hall, and she asks if I might help with it.  Then, my husband -the Professor- brings home a package.

First, there were a pile of needles, which I gave to a local yarn shop so they could use it in their teaching and charity programs.  Also in the pile was this pattern, a Basketweave Jacket from an Elle magazine book publication from 1986.  In the pile of yarns were a bunch of dark gray skeins of Rowan Donegal Lambswool and some skeins of tweedy brown Rowan Fox Tweed.  Also, two fronts and one back of a vest, with the 2.5mm needles still stuck in the knitting.

Now, I wear a lot of brown and gray, but I'd not voluntarily knit with this dark gray.  It's hard to see to work with it.  Plus, unless I'm knitting socks, I'd not consider knitting anything this fine...the pattern says the gauge should be 33 stitches =4".  (That's FINE KNITTING, folks!)

However, when I looked at it, I saw I could just finish the row, cast off, sew up the seams and the vest would be nearly made.  I wouldn't make it like the 1986 vintage pattern, but I'd have a wear, if it suits, or to give away.

The task was made a bit more difficult because some of the lights in our living room were temporarily not working, it's winter time, and dark as all get out.  Plus, we had yet another virus going on, and I had a hard time concentrating while watching all those kids shows and catering to a sick 4 year old. (AGAIN.)

When I'd finished, I decided to wash it to block it, because heaven knows how long it had been sitting in that bag.  Lately, I've been washing these things in my washing machine on a cold water gentle cycle.  I have world's lowest water pressure in my washer, so all my knitted things usually turn out well...very lucky, actually.  However, this time, the vest came out having sprung a hole or two.  Turns out that Rowan Donegal Lambswool, expensive and fine yarn that it is, isn't very sturdy.  I had a panicky moment, worrying about moths, so I had the Professor inspect it.  (he studies moth genetics)  He says, nope, that is a plain old hole.  Not a moth hole.  Whew!  Luckily, it is a 'sticky' wool, so I was able to mend those 3 holes right up...then...

I dug around until I found the right button.  This button was given to me at a Manitoba Craft Council sale in November of 2010.  (I remember because I was a vendor at the sale, trying to sell handwoven rugs, newly pregnant with twins, terribly ill with morning sickness, and we had a plumbing disaster that weekend.  Oy.  How could I forget?)  Anyhow, this button is handmade by Evelin Richter, and it totally matches.  Obviously, it was waiting for this moment.

Since the pattern clearly wasn't designed for a button, I went right ahead and made another hole.  This is also called an 'afterthought buttonhole.'  Basically, you carefully cut the yarn where you want the button, unravel a bit, and then sew the heck out of the buttonhole to be sure it doesn't unravel further.  Odds are this button hole won't unravel now, or at least, not before any of those other holes unravel again...

Anyhow, bing bam boom (as all those kids' cartoons say...), here's a vest.  I haven't worn it yet, but it is really a fine piece of knitting.  I didn't know the knitter, and I certainly would not have done it myself on such skinny little needles!  Even before I had twins, I did not have patience for this kind of teeny weeny stitches in a dark color.

 However, it is well worth saving.  I'm already looking forward to how I will use the rest of the yarn leftovers (doubled, in the case of the Donegal lambswool, of course) but mostly, I feel a profound sense of connection.  Throughout history, we anonymous knitters have created all sorts of clothing and works of art...and we've left plenty of UnFinished Objects (UFOs) behind.  My mom has willingly finished things for other knitters who have passed away and therefore have not been able to it themselves...a baby blanket, a grandchild's afghan, etc.  Now, I have joined the ranks.

I hope that in that great knitting group in the cosmic beyond, somebody sees this one and smiles.  It goes without saying, too, that I hope one day someone will cherish my leftovers, and do the same for me.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this vest. It's wonderful that it found you. Awesome.

February 4, 2016 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

I am glad it found me, too! Now I just need to get enough healthy kids and warm weather to wear it....!

February 7, 2016 at 11:05 AM  

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