Nostalgia and other things

I recently found an old translation of a knitting pattern from my mom.  She used to translate for Scheepjeswol from Dutch into English (she spoke German and I imagine knitting instructions in Dutch were not much of a stretch.) I recently found a draft (the back of which is covered is my spiro-graph art – I was about 8 years old).

It is a very stark translation, I think it would be best read in a severe tone, preferably with a German accent while whacking a ruler in your hand:
Baby Panties with Legs knit in Garter sts.
 size 0-6-12 months
1-2-2 balls Babyfleur
Tension: 28 sts = 4 ins on No. 12 needles
Cast on 40-50-60 sts on No. 12.
k. 6.5-7.5-8.5 ins.
Knit the crotch [ do any modern baby patterns ever talk about crotches???]: k 4-5-6, turn, k back. K. 4-5-6 more, turn. Continue like this with 4-5-6 more sts. until there are 4-5-6 left on row. Now inc. 4-5-6 each time until all sts are knitted. Knit 6.5-7.5-8.5 ins., and knit another crotch; cast off. Pick up 48-54-60 sts in each leg on No. 13, rib (k2,p2) 3/4″, cast off in rib. Pick up 96-106-116 sts, in the waist on No.13, rib 3/4 in, (k2,p2) then a row of holes *yo, 2tog, p2* repeat to end, rib 3/4 in, cast off in rib. Sew panties tog, pull string through holes.
Do babies even have crotches? don’t just smelly boys and men have crotches?  I’m not even sure I understand this pattern. Are you knitting two “crotches” which you then sew together?  It seems like you are doing short-rows but then what happens with “Now inc 4-5-6 each time until all sts are knitted”? And I don’t understand “Knit 6.5-7.5-8.5 ins and knit another crotch; cast off”. Do you start all over again? do you knit for awhile and then knit another crotch and then fold it somehow?  WTF??  I might have to try to knit one of these double-crotched-baby panties to figure out what the hell is going on!  In defence of my mother, I am hoping this was a really rough first draft and that’s why she let me spiro-graph allover it. I do have some old Scheepjeswol books and their instructions are bit more fleshed out than this one. I’ll let you know if I make any headway, or crotchway.
I was also digging through the loads of knitting magazines and books that I have. A friend gave me a few from the 70’s which had belonged to her mother and I thought I might share. From 1974!
I think I might have to renew my wedding vows just so I can whip up this confection to wear! But only if I can team it up with this cape!!
What do you think? I’m thinking… on second thought… maybe not. But it would almost be worth it just to see people’s faces reacting to this aberration. And, unlike in the 70’s, nobody could commit me to a lunatic asylum against my will… hmmm….
There were, however, some pretty cute patterns that would work today with a bit of tweaking.
I quite like this set and it would be easy to convert the cardigan to a top-down raglan (and join the hoards of designers who almost exclusively offer variations of top-down raglans – don’t get me started…) and to up-date the top. Or how about this?
They are so adorable, almost makes me want to pluck my eyebrows, cut my bangs and gloss up my make-up.
I totally plan on making this pullover (maybe with a deeper neck), and maybe even the vest.
Now back to the future. I finished a couple of sweaters for my grandson.
A top-down raglan that I made up, from Knitpicks Felici sport (which they don’t make anymore, why I cannot fathom).
And I finished his other grey hoodie, based on a Martin Storey pattern.
I added some length almost as soon as I finished it (so he has room to grow). This was knit in pieces and sewn together so I picked up along the bottom band so that the edge shows (since the ribbing wouldn’t line up – you are always half a stitch off when you pick up in the opposite direction) and then knit the ribbing down, and finished it with a stockinette rolled edge (which won’t look so lumpy when worn). Speaking of knit-in-pieces, I thought I’d show you how I sew my sweaters together. I despise the mattress stitch, it has no give, it’s awkward, and I hate it almost as much as intarsia knitting. I sew my knits together as if I were sewing (you’ll see what I mean). To make this easier, I always knit pieces with stockinette edges (not slipped stitches, they end up looking sloppy when sewn up), but just a plain old stockinette – one stitch seam, no matter what the pattern and then I sew with the pieces together with a backstitch (which has give if you need to block it severely. I managed to add about 2″ to a sweater for hubby by blocking severely – which probably would have popped my mattress stitches if I had used them.)
I sew up the body and sleeves separately:
Then I turn the body inside out and ease in the sleeve caps, pinning them with toothpicks.
DSCF4526And then I sew them into place, lining up my stockinette seams so that they look like this:
The seam is the same thickness as a mattress stitch but I find it infinitely easier and cleaner looking. Behold:
aDSCF4534Isn’t that a pretty set-in sleeve? Works like a charm for me. So if there is a technique you hate, you can try to master it (and still hate it) or you can find something that works better for you and enjoy your knitting again.
I hope to have action shots of these sweaters when I get back from Cape Cod. Until then, happy knitting!

3 thoughts on “Nostalgia and other things

  1. Hi Julie, what a fun blog. Some patterns just don’t make sense. I have one at the moment. Yes, i have read it over and over. Still looks impossible. The patterns from the 70’s look excessive. Ii was knitting at that time, I don’t remember wedding dresses and capes. Who knew? Have a great time in Cape Cod. See you when you get back. I hope you get lots of little guy hugs. Cheers Mary

  2. Hi Julie – You’ve convinced me – I’m ditching the mattress stitch forever. Thanks for the helpful tutorial on plain old seam sewing: looks easy and neat! And c’mon….that purple floor length cape over the white cloud of a dress — you’ll turn heads!! Have a wonderful time in Cape Cod and splash in the ocean for us. Warmly – Mary Lou

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