Monday, 22 December 2008

Ralph Lauren Ski Sweater

I'm scanning all my photos and found this - proof that I used to knit items and then wear them! This was a favourite sweater. Ralph Lauren's 1978 Prairie collection was very popular and influential and completely out of my reach. Imagine my delight when I came across Nancy Vale's pattern for the ski sweater a few years later. The yarn was double knit from John Lewis - it was quite a fat double knit, as I recall, because I later made a second version of this sweater in another, thinner brand of double knit that I wasn't so keen on and gave away.

I used to be a terrible knitter - and very, very slow. I'd work a stitch, drop the yarn, pick up the needle, work another stitch by picking up the yarn, wrapping it slowly around the front of the needle, letting go of the yarn, then dropping the needle again to pick up the yarn and pull it through! I also had no control of the number of stitches anywhere. I remember getting to the top of one sleeve and saying to Jon (my ex-husband) 'The pattern says I should have 7 stitches and I've got 24.' He looked concerned. 'That's 17 too many. That sounds bad. ' I said: 'Actually, that's pretty good for me!' And I cast them all off in a lump and sewed up the seams in back stitch. And wore the sweater.

Now I knit quickly and take huge pains to be accurate - and never turn out a sweater I can wear. What is the moral of this story? Just before I started blogging I started to knit this sweater again in brown, and abandoned it because it looked so lumpy. Maybe I'm in a kind of half-way house stage - I was doing fair isle with two hands (one colour in the left, Continental style and one in the right, English style) and weaving in the strands, but for the first time, so I'd not quite got the hang of it yet.

Am I being unreasonable in expecting to be able to knit in less than two years? We kind of expect instant expertise these days, don't we? 'Have Fun Mastering Knitting in a Weekend' rather than a seven-year apprenticeship. Oh, no! Why did I say seven years?

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