Added Jul 8, 2011
London, United K...
This was actually the first jumper I ever made out of the “Stitch in Time” book, and in fact the first knitting I’d done for about fifteen years; as ever, I was trying to run before I could walk.
I acquired seven ounces of this 3-ply metallic wool (1 strand cream, 1 strand orange, 1 strand metal fibre) and thought it would be a ‘golden’ opportunity to try one of the single-colour patterns from the book, which is full of 2- and 3-ply jumpers from the 1930s. It had to be a reasonably plain design as the fancy wool would be quite ‘flashy’ enough on its own and is too textured to show up an intricate stitch, but on the other hand I wanted some interest in the knitting-up: sixteen inches of stocking-stitch is my idea of pure tedium. So I chose this 1936 pattern from “Woman and Home” magazine for a deep-ribbed jumper (each rib is 3 stitches wide) where the bodice is in five pieces, sewn together: “The little vest-front gives the becoming cross-over line. A large brooch fastened on it gives a distinctive touch. Make it now—you can never have too many woollies in early summer” urges the pattern….
In fact, as I eventually realised, the ‘little vest-front’ visible between the sloping panels of the bodice actually belongs to the lady’s under-slip and is not part of the garment at all: I had to acquire (for 10p at a local jumble sale…) a slip with embroidered neckline to fill in the very deep gap at the front, as glimpses of my yellowing vests underneath didn’t look attractive at all!
In fact this three-ply “Soiree” wool is really too light-weight for the garment; in the 1930s 3- and 4-ply was considered a standard knitting weight rather than a super-fine baby wool, and was sturdier than its modern equivalent. The jumper is feather-light to wear (and surprisingly warm, given the large neck opening) but the ribbing stretched out of shape on its first wearing, and the cross-over front now sags sadly unless pinned right through the slip beneath.
With a brooch and belt, however, it is still possible to simulate the intended appearance of the original to a convincing degree (betrayed only by a bulge of excess fabric where the extra cross-over section is being held under), and the dramatic colour and striking diagonal rib across the front and in a V at the back of the neck (the long ends of the cross-over fronts actually fit together into a corresponding hole left at the top of the back) mean that this is a garment which literally does attract attention from across a crowded room: I’ve been approached by total strangers when wearing this one.
I’ve seen this pattern suggested as a forgiving design for more bosomy ladies; I have to say that on the contrary, in order to get the effect illustrated in the pattern photo you really need to have no bust at all, as any excess distorts the vertical line of the sewn fronts in an unattractive manner. The actual width of the garment is 38", but it’s obviously designed to fit a 30"-32" chest size – with the right underpinnings I can just about get away with it!
See Flickr for a modern interpretation of this pattern in 4-ply wool. And apologies for the poor lighting in my own photos: it was raining outside at the time….)
6oz of 3-ply “Soiree” metallic gold wool (I didn’t need the seventh ball)
No. 8 and No. 11 (for the welt and cuff ribbing) knitting needles.
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