Saturday, April 30, 2011

One Vest Leads to Another

  One Vest Leads to Another

The Lady-of-the-house was sweeping the walk a couple weeks ago. It was the cool of the evening. How refreshing it felt to be in bare feet once again. The leaves on the trees were still only the size of mouse ears but the grass was already as green and luscious as it would ever be.

That same day William enjoyed chasing soap bubbles on all that green grass in what he calls “feet-feet.” (His bubbles provide this post with a foreshadow.)

Untwisting some hand-dyed yarn the Lady-of-the-house made it ready for winding. All the day’s green made her remember a story she wanted to share with you about a green vest. The story takes place six years ago but she decorates it with photographs of another vest in-the-making, one knit recently for William. She decided to put wishbones up the center (filled with seed-stitch). The Man-of-the-house says they look like horseshoes. Anyway, as you scroll to the end of the story you will eventually see Nigel in the green story-vest. 

                     A True Story of Mother Culture
The washing machine had conked out. The Man-of-the-house was busy on his computer researching the newest models. For a week he searched websites and read user comments. After deciding upon a machine with the least amount of electronic do-dads – one more easily repairable - he announced, “I found it.”

The Lady-of-the-house, who was bent over the sink with sudsy water up to her elbows, stopped her sloshing about for a moment and said,  “Oh goodie.”

Like the natural salesman he was, he went on to describe its features. “It’s a simple front loader with two dials and a toggle switch. It uses less water than a top loader. 

“Sounds sensible,” she said. 

“The website says the new model should be available in a couple of months, maybe six weeks,“ he added. But it’s a machine worth waiting for.”

“Yes, I’m sure,” was the simple reply of Lady-of-the-house. She had mixed emotions. She was grateful for the investigating the Man-of-the-house had done as well as his laborious decision-making. But she couldn’t help feel a little crestfallen.

That is how Tuesday became her washing day at the laundry-mat. She wanted to make the best of it. Therefore, not only did she fill the car with baskets of washing, she also brought along the basket that held her knitting.

Mondays are traditionally washing day. “That explains it,” the Lady-of-the-house thought to herself as she sat alone in the laundry mat. If, on a Tuesday, another laundress did show up, she stuffed a few machines or a dryer and left. “Peace and quiet,” sighed the Lady-of-the-house. It was a different sort of quiet for the humming of the machines did not seem like noise to her.

Undistracted and uninterrupted she cast on her stitches. When the rows of ribbing were completed, and all her quarters were slotted into the dryers, she marked were she wanted her cables to go. She was making a vest in green Donegal Tweed. She had designed it carefully herself. It was for her son, then a young man of sixteen.

More than a month of Tuesdays passed. It was on a Tuesday that, pulling into the driveway with a car full of clean wash, the Lady-of-the-house was met by the Man-of-the-house. “I’ll unload the car. Come inside. Come see our new machine. Sorry you had to wait so long.”

“Never mind,” she said sincerely, “Today I turned a broken washing machine into a vest. All I need to do now is sew on the buttons.” Quite happy, and before setting her eyes on the machine-worth-waiting-for, she gave him a hug. The End.
                                  Six years later Nigel still wears that vest. 

The Lady-of-the-house is becoming more intrigued with self-stripping yarn. With self-stripping there is no need to break the yarn, weave in the ends, and start a new color like she did with the striped vest here. (It is best to weave, never knot, when attaching yarn). 

When asked his opinion on what color a new project should be Nigel said, “Stripes in Western colors.”

Although the project was an interesting challenge, she prefers not to knit a random stripe again. It took two hours to weave in the stray ends. The decision hasn’t hindered her needles, however, from clicking together on other compelling projects.

What projects do you find compelling? 

Thank you for visiting,
Karen Andreola


  1. Oh I truly enjoyed this Karen! :)

    The vests are lovely....thank you for sharing.

    Mrs. M.

  2. You are an amazing knitter! That vest for William is wonderful!

    Thank you for sharing Karen!

    ps - thank you too, for your hospitality. The girls had fun the other evening!

  3. I'm impressed. That's very nice and the colors are beautiful. On a side note. My daughter in law is at the point with her 2 and 1 year old children where she is thinking about their homeschool. I just bought her 3 of your wonderful books. Thank you so much for sharing your talents with us through your writing and blogging!

  4. Such pretty work! I do wish I had someone near by to teach me to knit! I've wanted to learn for several years and haven't found anyone to teach me! How did you learn?

  5. Hi Ladies,

    It is so nice to hear that another generation of home teachers are embarking upon my books.

    Rachel, Hold onto your interest. Someone is bound to know how to knit among your circle of acquaintances, sooner or later. My mother taught me the knit and purl stitch when I was a girl. Years later I read knitting books. Click "Knitting" In the Labels. Scroll to the end of the post "A Little Dabbling . . . " and you will find a DVD for beginners.

    Karen A.

  6. Karen,
    I LOVE your story and the vest! although I don't knit, I do crochet quite a bit! As for Rachel learning to knit, I recommend two sources, first is You Tube (which is where I have learned many of the crochet stithces I use) and also JoAnn Fabrics or a store that sells yarn. I'm sure there are classes for enrollment.

  7. That knitting reminds me of my mum's! Sadly, I haven't learned the cabling skills, but this inspires me to sit down with mum and learn... SOON!

    Beautiful knitting - and lovely to get that little 'peace' time... Wonderful that you were able to use it so productively! x

  8. Dear Karen,
    I've so enjoyed your blog. Thank you for sharing this knitting story. I checked out the knitting DVD you recommended previously and I've been learning to knit. It is so rewarding to see the stitches growing underneath me needle. I'm looking forward to your next post!
    Thank you,
    Kimberly Shaffer

  9. I just finished a dark green poncho. It uses a broken cable pattern. The neck is supposed to be a high turtleneck, but that's a bit too warm for me. I modified it into more of a mock turtleneck. Now I have to wait until January (around here) for cold enough weather! It was certainly the largest knitting project I've ever undertaken. Each row has 296 stitches.

    Now I'm working on a sweater for my husband. No cables this time, just stockinette stitch.

    I bought this nifty cable needle while working on my poncho. It is around 3 inches long and has this little niche that keeps the stitches snuggly on the needle. I really like it.

    I like the cables on your vests. The word beautiful comes to mind, but my husband tells me that clothing for males should not be described as beautiful. He's still trying to think of the appropriate adjective... I wonder if there is a more masculine word that describes the intricate beauty of a knitted cable.


  10. What a beautiful example of finding the joy and blessing in something. Usually there is some, we might have to dig a bit but it is there. Beautiful vests by the way. Clarice

  11. Yes, I think "beautiful" is acceptable. In the French language "beau" is masculine and "belle" is feminine for beautiful. A belle of the ball is a girl. A beau is a boyfriend. I can understand a man's hesitation and caution in using this adjective in conversation with another man in reference to male clothes. We women talk far more about clothes, anyway don't we? In our talkative natures we tend use words like "beautiful" more freely - especially the word "cute." Think of the emotion wrapped up in that word. I'm smiling.

    Thank you, Ladies.
    Karen A.

  12. Lovely words Karen and the way that you weave the story together, combining the everyday with just a touch of charm.... reminds me of reading Tasha Tudor's words. My next knitting conquest is a Tea Leaves Cardigan for myself. Having just finished lacework knee socks, I am ready for the challenge even in the weather is not (h.o.t.)
    Glad to have found your blog.

  13. I just received the knitting DVD that you recommend! My kids got it for me for mother's day. I can't wait to dive in! Thank you thank you for everything. You are a answer to prayer for me.

  14. I just finished my first scarf using the knitting DVD. I LOVE it! It's just a garder stitch, but I'm starting another scarf using the stockingnet (sp?) stitch! I really am enjoying it so much. The DVD is wonderful! Anyone can learn withnthis resource. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  15. Ladies,
    I like hearing about your projects.
    Karen A.