Listening: The Devil Makes Three mix. Nobody ever sounded more fancy free singing about substance abuse and death . . .
My knitting dreams will always outpace my knitting realities, I'm afraid.
I'm still working on the Christmas gift. I'm about 80% done, though. If I'm diligent, I'll be finished next week. No problem.
I agonized over the opaque instructions and lack of visual aids for the 1865 U.S. Sanitary Commission sock until it finally occurred to me to get on Ravelry and look up modern sock patterns. Turns out that a whole lot of socks are still made the same way this one was in 1865. Duh! The plan now is to start with a pair of boot socks in a larger (easier to manage) gauge, and then attempt Civil War socks. I need boot socks, anyway, since my engineer boots are men's 7 1/2 and my feet are not.
I made the mistake of poking around on Etsy on payday and ended up with the .pdf download for this:
. . . which, yes, I would actually wear.
Credit where credit is due: I got it from Foreverantique on Etsy. (I changed the colors on this illustration to match the colors suggested in the original pattern--navy blue with gray Fair Isle work.)
The pattern, however, does not give a gauge. I've since been told that this was copied from an early-1920's edition of the McCall's Embroidery Book (a magazine), so maybe that information was somewhere else in the chapter and didn't get included.
My clues are:
1) It’s a bust 36-38, which would probably mean hips 39-41, although a hip measure is not specified.
2) It calls for size “3 mm, 3.5, 4.5, and 5.5” needles.
3) It requires “19 balls navy and 1 ball gray … (1 1/2-ounce skeins)” of yarn for the sweater and skirt together.
4) While working on the 5 1/2 needles, at one point, you work 60 rows/12 inches (so 5 rows per inch).
5) You start the sweater at the lower edge by casting in 84 stitches. You also knit the skirt from the bottom up, beginning with 135 stitches on the needle and ending up with 80 (you add an elastic band for the waist).
If the skirt ends up with 80 stitches per half, for what would be about a 39-inch hip measure, I’m guessing about 4 stitches per inch, per skirt half (80/4 = 20. 20 + 20 = 40 inches at the waist/hip). It's also entirely possible--likely, really--that I'm underestimating the gauge because I'm primarily a seamstress and not accustomed to the idea of negative ease (which you can't do with woven fabrics). If there were negative ease, there would be more stitches per inch. I doubt there is much negative ease, though, since the skirt needs an elastic band in the waist, and clothing at the time was both not tight and would have been worn over considerable undergarments. The early 1920's were still in the chemise-and-corset era.
I'm a bit stumped on the needles. If those are millimeter sizes (as they would likely have been at the time) then they would mean modern US 4, 7, and 9, and that doesn’t make sense to me at all. US 3, 4, and 5, more or less, seem more likely, unless the original yarn company had its own needle system as some of them did.
Most of my 1940's patterns call for sportweight yarn, but that would make a very loose knit at 4 stitches per inch. DK might be closer. It might even--gasp!--be worsted since it's a winter suit.
It shouldn't be difficult but the directions for the sweater are super weird so actually figuring it out might take longer than knitting it (it's all basic stitches). The skirt is a cone--a tube that narrows as you get closer to the waist. It would be really easy, too, to knit most of it in the round.