What is the oldest knit you have still hanging around your house? Since I started back when I was five, I don't have any of those ghastly reminders from earlier days. Nor do I have the crocheted skirts and granny square hats from the 1970s to shame me over my former fashion style. I DO have a great piece, that started its life as the most complicated piece of knitting I had ever done, back in 1974 when ponchos were still 'in', the first time. The pattern was in an issue of McCalls Needlework and Craft, my favorite magazine at the time.
This project was done in the most elaborate Aran stitches I had tried to date, and the lattice work took total concentration and reading the pattern.... it never got easier, so the poncho never got done. I did have two side panels done and one of the wider ones (from the bottom up) more than half-completed when I set it aside. I was never able to frog and forget... admiring my lovely twisted cablework but unable to get motivated to finish. I carried this piece around with me for over a decade, moving more times than I care to remember.
Then, in the late 1980s, I read Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears, discovered on the school library shelf when I was the library aide for four years. It changed my whole thinking, not just inspiring me to teach myself to knit Continental-style (lots of practice), but to re-examine the project and decide what I could do to salvage it. All of that beautiful work didn't need to be ripped out; it could be the springboard for a new design.
This photo shows a close up of the lattice cabled pattern, which I used as front panels on either side of the fronts in my variation of the Tomten Jacket (check out this link at Brooklyn Tweed for a straight-knit version)... I simply started knitting and sewing, making a gusset at each underarm, picking up and knitting front panels sideways to make the front wide enough, later adding a shawl collar using EZ's directions for adding on a collar and shaping it, and of course adding garter stitch sleeves. The same pink Peace Fleece from the shawl collar made a narrow ribbing border on each side of the front opening, covering the jacket zipper I stitched in place.
I ran out of my original yarn (Under Rygia), and turned to some that I had tea-dyed earlier (the tan in the photo), as well as several compatible shades of Peace Fleece (collar, front panels and dark trim).
The wider panel from the poncho pattern (where I left off) became the lower back, with a garter stitch back yoke adapted from the Tomten Jacket. I also added a garter stitch border of tea-dyed yarn around the bottom to pull the piece together. This photo shows the back gusset devised by knitting back and forth to fill in the spaces between the back panel and the front panel on each side. I especially love this back panel, and think the diamond and feather stitching panels were the reason why I could never bear to frog this project.
As you can tell from this full-front view, I got a little creative in stretching my yarn on the sleeves, but tried to keep my color family intact so that I blended my different elements and used the tea-dyed yarn to provide continuity. This sweater turned out to be a very warm outerwear jacket, finished at a time when I was living in the high country of the Sierras, with deep snow a companion all winter. I loved it, including the big, roll-up cuffs, the zip front and the cozy collar. I realized afterwards that the only thing I forgot was pockets! I still wear this sweater every winter, over other layers, and have intended to add 'afterthought' pockets, another EZ 'unvention'. This was an adventurous project, probably my best UFO resurrection ever, and gave me the freedom to feel I could tackle anything... someday I might even try lattice cabling again.
Tell me about your oldest or most favorite knit!