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 The real value of hand knit sweaters
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Grey
Chatty Knitter

160 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  07:46:56 AM  Show Profile Send Grey a Private Message
A post in another thread got me thinking...

I think all of us who knit intend for the things we knit to be used for quite some time. I mean, if I spend up to six months working on an aran cardigan, I certainly expect to get lots of use out of it. I'm still wearing my first aran sweater over ten years later. For that matter I still have the first afghan I made, which is twenty years old. I still expect to have and be using these things ten and twenty years from now.

I know we all complain about the price of yarn. Any item of reasonable size that I make is over $50 worth of materials, and I think my average sweater is pushing the $100 range, and that's not using the really expensive stuff either. That sounds like a huge amount, but if I'm wearing them for more than ten years its a pretty good value. I'm told that people who buy most of their clothes at the mall throw stuff out a lot more quickly than I do. I don't know how true that is, but I can believe it.

I was raised by a knitter, and I even wore wool sweaters in my teens that my Mom had made for herself when she was a young woman, which were still is great condition. For that matter I own some wool clothing (not knit, but we knitters know the value of wool) that is older than I am! I think that growing up in a knitting household has given me an appreciation for the value of well made clothing is good materials, along with the value of classic styles that are never out of fashion. Sometimes when I look around at what other women my age (early 30s) are wearing I wish these values were a little more widespread.

I'll end with a question: What's the oldest knit garment that you've ever worn? I'd say that some of the sweaters I wore that belonged to my Mom were at least 40 years old when I wore them.

Understanding is a three-edged sword

Leanne
Gabber Extraordinaire

Canada
384 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  07:55:14 AM  Show Profile  Visit Leanne's Homepage Send Leanne a Private Message
I still wear a cardigan which my Grandmother knit for me when I was a teen-ager (about 13). It is one of the last sweaters she made.

http://www.oknitting.com
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Wovenflame
Seriously Hooked

Canada
812 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  08:12:36 AM  Show Profile  Visit Wovenflame's Homepage Send Wovenflame a Private Message
The handknits I wear are not all that old but my husband has a sweater my mother made over 20 years ago and he wears it regularly. My children, when they were small babies, also wore baby sweaters that my brothers were brought home from the hospital in 20+ years earlier. With any luck those sweaters will be bringing home another generation yet.

-Marlene-
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Ditzy Girl
Permanent Resident

USA
4723 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  08:24:23 AM  Show Profile Send Ditzy Girl a Private Message
Probably 15 yrs old for a sweater, but I have 2 afghan over 20 maybe closer to 30. As I sit and type this I can turn around and see one of them. I have given sweaters away because I simply got tired of them.

Zola, Seattle, Wash.

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Jenny
Permanent Resident

1613 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  08:26:07 AM  Show Profile Send Jenny a Private Message
I'm slightly jealous. I wish I had something a grandmother had knit....sigh. That being said, the oldest thing I have I made myself about 12 years ago and it's still going strong. I made a sweater for my husband which really isn't the greatest but he loves it and it's about 14 years old and also still going strong. When my children get around to having their own children, I'll be knitting up a storm so they can pass things on.
Jenny
WA State
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imamshua
Chatty Knitter

USA
300 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  09:13:11 AM  Show Profile Send imamshua a Private Message
My husband has a Cowichan sweater, purchased by his parents when he was a 15yo. The shawl collar neck has been repaired, but other than that, it is in wonderful condition and he was still wearing it until we moved to southern California last year. He is now 57 and yes, can still fit into the sweater.
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Tuppence
Chatty Knitter

USA
140 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  10:49:10 AM  Show Profile Send Tuppence a Private Message
I have an afghan (acrylic, unfortunately) that I inherited as a WIP after my grandmother died, over 30 years ago. I finished it and have used it a lot over the years. It looks very shabby now, but I can't bring myself to part with it because it always reminds me of Nana.


- Marie, NW of Chicago
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fillyjonk
Permanent Resident

1127 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  11:00:33 AM  Show Profile  Visit fillyjonk's Homepage Send fillyjonk a Private Message
Not a sweater (and it's crocheted, not knitted) but I have an afghan my great-aunt crocheted. She passed away in the mid-1970s, and the afghan was already "old" by then - it might be 45 years old or even more.

It's made out of the old Red Heart *wool*, including a blue and white variegated wool (it's blue and gold, my alma mater's colors, which is partly why it was passed on to me). I still use it, on cold nights. I do inspect it carefully each fall and spring to make sure there aren't any holes or stains that need attention.

I'm fatter than my mother so I can't "inherit" clothes from her, but I do know she still wears sweaters from the 1960s that are of a classic style and color (She is one of those fortunate women who is almost the same size now as when she was married; they did a vintage wedding-gown style show at the church she belonged to, and she was able to wear her wedding gown some 35 or so years after the wedding).

I have an old, crummy, holey (commercial, not handmade) wool sweater that was my dad's - he was going to throw it away but because it was chunky knit, black, and large on me, I wanted it at that point in my life (because it was chunky, black, and large on me). I still have it, it's probably 30 years old or so. I've repaired the worst of the moth holes. It's sort of a "knockabout" sweater for me, what I wear when I have to go do fieldwork in the winter or if I need something warm that I won't worry too much about snagging or spilling something on.
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carpe diem
Permanent Resident

1158 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  11:26:50 AM  Show Profile Send carpe diem a Private Message
Great topic!

Although my Mom, Aunties & maternal Grandmother were knitters, they didn't make garments that I'm aware of, yet we have afghans (still at Mom's & Aunties')and slippers knit out of Fentex! Ranging from 25 - 40 years old.

My most favorite hand-made item is my paternal grandmother's Quilt that she made for me. My sister has her own too. She stitched by hand, all the little scraps of fabric that my Mom had sewn matching garments for vacations, or other clothes. It's almost better than a photo album in that so many memories come back from one little scrap of fabric . It's at least 30 years old now.

Grandma never owned a sewing machine and I'm impressed how long it's held up. It's tucked away because the border was ripped off almost entirely when my former DH got it all tangled up while taking a nap. He didn't know THAT blanket was off limits! Every year I keep telling myslef I'm going to repair it, by hand. I will now. My Grandma Brown taught me to crochet, embroider and bake as a child. She and I were buddies and she's the one I give credit for my interest in knitting, even though she didn't know how, she encouraged me to ask one of my aunties. May she rest in peace...

Almost forgot to include that I'm making sure everyone in my immediate family will have a hand-knit garment from me. My sister and SIL both have hand made garments that have been passed down from previous generation(s) for the own children. I think it's sweet. So Jenny, take heart!

~ Lisa, Seattle
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GFTC
Permanent Resident

USA
6331 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  12:02:44 PM  Show Profile  Visit GFTC's Homepage Send GFTC a Private Message
I don't wear these things but I am impressed that they still exist......

I walked into my mother's summer house and there on a chair in one of the bedrooms was an afghan that I made in college in the early 70's. This is not my childhood summer home so I was shocked that the afghan still existed.

In a closet I have a box of sweaters that I knit for my son over the period of time from before he was born until he was about 5. That would be 1988 to 1993.

In a box with souvenirs of high school and college I have a sweater that I knit in college as well as my cut-off jean shorts that I wore to Woodstock(1969).

Now that I am completely depressed from this trip down memory lane, I think I'll do a totally 21st Century thing - I'm going to sit here in NYC and go yarn shopping in England via the internet while I eat ice cream that I softened in the microwave. I always did love the Jetsons.


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Busyhands
Permanent Resident

USA
1496 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  12:23:56 PM  Show Profile Send Busyhands a Private Message
I have a gray cabled sweater that my mom made for my dad...i'ts probably 30 years old or maybe more. He didn't wear it much...he prefers cardigans and when he was younger he wasn't usually cold enough for a wool sweater in California. I 'adopted' it in high school and it is still one of my favorite sweaters! Which reminds me that I've been meaning to make Dad a wool cardigan...now that he is older and thinner, he gets cold a lot more easily and would probably like wool again!
Lin
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KEG
Sustaining Member

122 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  1:34:43 PM  Show Profile Send KEG a Private Message
I have and use an afghan that my mother knit for my godmother about 45 years ago; my godmother left it to me when she died in 1980. And when I was helping my father clean out his closet a few months ago I came across two sweaters - one a cardigan my mother knit him in 1962 and the other a cabled v-neck vest a family friend made him over 60 years ago - I have a picture of him wearing it in 1943! He doesn't wear either one any more, although maybe I should bring the cardigan to his attention...both are in excellent condition.
Kate
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procrastiknitter
Permanent Resident

Canada
1415 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  1:47:38 PM  Show Profile Send procrastiknitter a Private Message
My father has an aran sweater bought in Ireland about 40 years ago that he still wears. My other has an afgan made by her mother in the 1940s. She also has a table cloth with crocheted edgings made by a relative in the late 19th century.

What would chairs look like if our knees bent the other way?
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sallyjo
Permanent Resident

USA
2401 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  2:11:52 PM  Show Profile Send sallyjo a Private Message
GFTC - Woodstock? I bow to you who made the pilgrimage!
I have two crazy quilts my great aunt made, probably in the thirties. A little frayed, but neat materials. And socks my grandmother made for my father. He's been gone thirty years now, and yes they got thrown in the dryer, but now they fit me!

happiness is highly underrated
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Tam
Permanent Resident

Australia
2810 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  4:17:55 PM  Show Profile Send Tam a Private Message
My kids wore sweaters my MIL made for my BIL 40 years ago and we have 2 afghans that are at least 35 years old (1 of them is older but we don't know whose grandmother made it so we can't put an age on it). I still wear a jumper that I made when I was 19; good thing the fashions of the 80s were big!!

Happy Knitting,
Tam in Melbourne

http://photos.yahoo.com/lillysmum2002

2004 Stats: 13 FOs, 2 WIPs, 1 frog

Women are like tea bags - you don't know how strong they are until they are in hot water.
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lainie
New Pal

USA
16 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  4:32:16 PM  Show Profile  Visit lainie's Homepage Send lainie a Private Message
I have a basic sweater my gran made for my mom about.....30 years ago...I will have to check the age. It is a grey cardigan with a bright multi-colored yoke and seed stitch edging. It is starting to wear on one arm. It is a cute sweater as well as a sentimental treasure.

I hope one day I get brave enough to finish a sweater that I can pass down to my children.

Elaine


Elaine
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Wen
Permanent Resident

Australia
3244 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  4:32:23 PM  Show Profile  Visit Wen's Homepage Send Wen a Private Message
The oldest garment I wear was knitted by me in 1983. I have an afghan that was crocheted for me as a young child by my grandmother and a baby blanket that was knitted by my grandmother when my oldest brother was born in 1960.

Wen

2004 stats: 15 FO, 5 WIP, 19 wool purchased, 4 frogpond.
http://photos.yahoo.com/whdayus
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argus
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
595 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  4:43:56 PM  Show Profile  Visit argus's Homepage Send argus a Private Message
I have a very special cardigan crocheted for me by my grandmother. It was made in 1976 or so, and I still wear it on occasion. It looks great and always brings back memories of my childhood.
I keep several sweaters I made for my sons when they were little (in 1985 - 1988). These sweaters still look new, and I am hoping one day give them to my grandchildren (but not too soon, I am not ready to become a grandmother yet).

Argus

Carpe diem.
My website is http://www.geocities.com/tadenev/
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kimmiebear
Gabber Extraordinaire

359 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  7:42:32 PM  Show Profile Send kimmiebear a Private Message
I only have an king size afghan that was made for my grandmother that is over 20 years old. All of the other handcrafted items that I own, I made myself. I can only hope that I still have my items as long as all of you have had yours.
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Heather
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
456 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2004 :  9:22:28 PM  Show Profile Send Heather a Private Message
I recently was given a beautiful aran sweater my mom knit for my dad a year or two before I was born (I'm 39). It was too small for him in later years until he became ill and lost a lot of weight... I will wear it this winter as soon as the weather cools down.

--Heather

He Rest O Pand Spen Das Oci Alho Ur In Harm Les Smirt Hand funl Et fri Ends Hip Re Ign Beju Stand Kin Dan Devils Peak of No Ne!
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virtualpurl
Gabber Extraordinaire

409 Posts

Posted - 06/16/2004 :  06:18:02 AM  Show Profile Send virtualpurl a Private Message
I have an afghan that my aunt made for my mother about 60 years ago. It has one small hole and the fringe is mostly gone, but otherwise it's fine. One day I'm going to take it to my LYS and have someone there explain the stitch for me so I can make one just like it. (It's kind of a honeycomb double-knit and very springy and warm.)
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