Sunday, July 29, 2012

Longevity

How long do you expect your knits to last? Some knitters love to make small projects for gifts and thus don't necessarily see how their knits are faring years after their creation. However, for knits that stay in the family, what steps can you take to ensure that they'll be worn and loved for many years to come? Here are some ideas:
1. Use good quality yarn. That doesn't always mean the softest yarn. Very softly spun yarns unfortunately often don't wear well.
2. I always keep some leftover yarn for repairs (see below). In fact, when making gloves or mitts, I try to keep enough extra to make a third in case one goes missing (alas, bitter experience has taught me this lesson).
3. Maintain the garment properly. That means using a lint shaver to clean up pills as needed (often frequently in the early days of wear), washing by hand and drying the garment flat. A garment that goes in the dryer won't look beautiful for long. I like to use Eucalan for washing, although sometimes I use a mild dish soap or shampoo, especially if I want to get rid of an excess of lanolin or a woolly smell. I use my old top-loading washing machine for soaking and spin drying only. Repair snags promptly, before they have time to get worse.
4. Store your clean knits in ziplock bags off season. I put a bar of Dr. Bronner's lavender soap in the bag with the knits. Avoid cramming knits into dark drawers where moths lurk.

Just how long will your knits last? If you're careful, they'll last for decades into the future. Isabel is still wearing an Icelandic yoke sweater I made for her 10 years ago. I made it large on purpose and she rolled up the sleeves as a petite 10-year-old. Now, as a petite 20-year-old she wears it stylishly close fitting. I might even be able to hand it down to the next generation, assuming there is one (with 20-somethings still living at home, that seems a stretch!).
Wouldn't it be nice if all our knits ended up like Elizabeth Zimmermann's aran sweater (worn in her "Knitting Workshop" series) with knitted heart patches on the elbows?

We've been watching the start of the Olympics. None of us is interested in the team sports; we have a preference for cycling, track and field, the triathlon...you get the picture. How wonderful that Simon Whitfield, a Kingston native who has won gold and silver medals in past Olympic triathlons, was chosen as the Canadian flagbearer. It's easy to see why this sport is so popular here.While out for my (exceedingly tame) evening cycle along the shore,


I only needed to look to my left to catch glimpses of activities on the water (this was in fact the site of the sailing competitions in the 1976 Games).


The alterations to the chunky tweedy jacket are done, and I'm 'sailing' up the body of the second Buttonbox waistcoat. And thinking about my upcoming trip to Lake Placid (yet another Olympic venue).

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