In the fall of 1977 I was working in Montreal at a shelter for pregnant teens. My boss and her flat mate had recently bought a hobby farm just over the Ontario border. We enjoyed a beautiful fall weekend raking leaves and putting the garden to bed for the winter. During a shopping break, I, an avid knitter for at least 1/2 of my life at that point, found this magazine at the checkout of the grocery store. I fell in love with the French flavour of the Irish patterns that were featured throughout this issue; Mon Tricot was 1977’s version of Ravelry, bringing together knitters, traditions and patterns from all over the world to its monthly publication.
It was love at first sight – I’ve been a sucker for the challenge, the beauty and the intricacy of cables ever since. I could feel the rich warmth of each of the garments, from the “True Aran Knit” pullover, which was the first and only Top Down constructed sweater that I’d ever seen until about 15 years ago, to this stunning rust coloured, hip length cardi with the wonderful collar that could almost go up over your head. There were cables on everything: pillows, a cloche hat and scarf, a poncho, a full baby ensemble, a gorgeous pieced afghan, even lacy curtains.
But it was the cardi that got me. Can’t you just see yourself even today, with this lovely piece thrown on over a little sundress, prancing on the sandy beach of an Irish coastline, with an Irish cutie at your side?
It took me a bit of time to get the knitting started, the spring of 1980 as a matter of fact. I was expecting our first child and while more practical and devoted mommies would be knitting sweaters and booties for the wee one, I treated myself to this project. I’m sorry to say that in those days I felt that I had much more time than patience and did not see the need to measure the pieces as they came off the needles. Alas, the magnificent cardigan would have easily wrapped around my 200 pound pre-delivery self, but looked ridiculous after the birth. I was not actually all that upset. I loved the experience and tore it out and made a simpler sweater from a Canadian Living pattern.
Zoom ahead with me 35 years as my daughter (the one whose birth and the completion of the sweater came within the same week) mentions that she would like a sweater for her birthday. She showed me a pattern of a rather long and large, intricately cabled cardigan with curved edges, which to me looked like it would date an otherwise timeless garment. I looked for a similar but more traditional style among the books at the store and found a few contenders.
Do you know that time when you’re just falling asleep or waking up? A time when the most brilliant ideas, recollections or solutions jump out of the subconscious and right into the pit of things forgotten? Well it was at such a time that I remembered IT! My favourite pattern of all my 50 years of knitting. I realized that it was exactly what I wanted to make and appeared to be just what she wanted to wear. She gave her approval and I jumped in.
I diligently wrote out each pattern row on a separate recipe card so that I could work on it during the long days of traveling that I knew we would be enjoying during this spring and summer. The cardigan traveled with me from Portugal to Cape Breton and back again, and I loved every stitch of it. I did have to redesign the sleeves and re-knit the openings both front and back as (to be quite honest) I couldn’t figure out what the pattern wanted me to do?
Anyway, here it is, the first sweater that she has had made for her in 20 years. How precious that we both will get to enjoy one of my favourites: she gets to wear it and I get to look at it. Sometimes I think that one experience is as enjoyable as the other.
Until next time,