Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Rest of the Vest

Finished Object circa 1995. I loved it then; I love it still.

This is the Manos del Uruguay vest that Cinderella wore to the ball, after gathering her courage, to join wholeheartedly in with the knitting community like never before. I showed a little snip of it in another post, but this is what the whole thing looks like. Sadly, I can't quite do the colors justice here, but in person they're deep and rich and nuanced and not at all strident.

I knitted the vest in 1995, and it's called Ikat. I know this because I dug deep into my stash and found the pattern booklet and even the receipt. The pattern is in Manos Del Uruguay Pattern Booklet 8, and it was designed by Anne Simpson of Simpson Southwick, the distributor, at the time, of Manos.

Sometimes it's useful being a person who keeps everything.

Actually, in my archaeological unlayering of years of stash, I found not only the pattern book, but... what on earth? You've got to be kidding. It's the original bag from the late, lamented local yarn store, Wooly Knits, a wonderful shop in an old bungalow with room after room to explore. It eventually fell to a developer's wrecking ball when the location became too valuable to leave alone. (But I happened to stumble upon a link for this knitting trip to Ireland, led by the former owner, Donna Barnako, which does look like fun.)

Inside the bag? All the leftover yarn and even scraps, still wound on their bobbins. But really, what could I do? The Manos wool is far too delicious to discard. It's simply waiting for the right colorwork project, right? I have no explanation at all for those bobbins.


I contracted a violent crush on the Ikat vest the moment I saw it. Immediately, I bought the yarn and pattern to make it. It being infatuation and all, I didn't enter into this relationship in a sensible, deliberate way. Head over heels, I dived in swatchless and just started knitting. I know now that this was a sin.

Worse, I compared no measurements of pattern dimensions and myself. My impatience brooked no delays. I simply picked the larger of the two sizes on offer -- after all, I thought, it never hurts if a sweater is a little oversized -- revved up the motor, and took off.

I fiercely enjoyed the knitting of it, the side-to-side construction, the colors, the large intarsia motifs, and the small stranded ones. I loved the waistcoat shaping along the bottom. I loved the black edging that set off the whole composition. I picked out Norwegian silver buttons that suited it strangely, in an unexpected multicultural brew. I finished it, wove in the ends, and put it on, heart all a-flutter.

It was too big. It was way too big. It hung from my shoulders as if borrowed from a larger friend. But what did I care? I loved it. I wore it with pride. And as the years have passed, my rashness has become wisdom. Truth be told, I'm not quite as small and wispy as I was 12 years ago. I've worn it with many things: blouses, T-shirts, turtlenecks. Not long ago, I realized I can also wear it over a thick sweater, not just a thin little jersey. It looks quite at home that way. And it's still got plenty of room. It's accommodating and generous in whatever I ask of it. It just goes to show you. Sometimes a crush does last.

No comments: