HSF #23: 1917 “Knitted Sweater Of Angorina”

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My “knitted sweater of Angorina.” (Thanks to Mr. Q, who consented to take pictures of me with no hassle on my first ask!)

And here’s the image from the pattern, for comparison.

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“Knitted sweater of Angorina” from the Star Needlework Journal 1917.

This is my entry for the HSF Challenge #23: Generosity and Gratitude. This challenge “is not about a particular item or aesthetic, it’s about celebrating the generosity of spirit and willingness to help others that makes the historical sewing community great, and giving credit and thanks to those who have contributed to our collective knowledge without expecting payment in return.”

My special thanks goes out to the person, or people, who took the time to put this knitting pattern out there on the internet, for free! I wouldn’t have been able to complete this project with the pattern, obviously. Thanks!

As it is, I’m really pleased to be done knitting and putting together this sweater. I’ve been using my sew time to knit, which has been a nice change and fun, but I do miss sewing! So now it will be back to sewing, which is good, because I have a lot of projects I’m working on!

Also, this sweater was a bit stressful… It started out on a relaxing note, but after completing the front, back, and one sleeve, I realized that it was taking way more yarn than I expected and I started to get worried I might run out before finishing the sweater! So as I was knitting my brain kept trying to think of ways to conserve yarn and wondering if there would be enough. I actually wound up completing unraveling one sleeve in order to knit it with less yarn… and thank goodness I did, because I barely had enough yarn to get as far as I did, and that was still with alterations to the original pattern to accommodate my dwindling yarn pile. You see, after knitting the front, back, and the two sleeves, there’s still the buttonhole/neck/button band to be knit, and you need enough yarn to stitch the seams! The sweater is quite long, so these things take more yarn than you might think. I used up literally almost all of the yarn I had…

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The first sleeve before it was unraveled and re-knit.

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The new sleeve shape with alterations to the pattern.

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Sewing up a side seam. The front, back, sleeves, and band are all knit separately, and flat, and then seamed together, creating side seams, armsceye seams, underarm seams, and a seam to join the band to the front/neck opening.

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These are literally the only pieces of yarn I have left… The longest is about 6″!

Here are the facts:

Fabric: 6 skeins, of unknown length, of probably acrylic yarn.

Pattern: 1917 Knitted Sweater of Angorina.

Year: January-March 1917. Here’s a blog post about the history of knitting in WWI that explains why the months are so specific.

Notions: Heavy thread to sew on the buttons, and 6 plastic buttons.

How historically accurate?: Acrylic wasn’t invented until 1941 and as fas as I know plastic buttons of the sort I used weren’t in use in 1917, but as a historic costume I’d give myself 95% on looking right, even if the materials aren’t 100% historically accurate.

Hours to complete: Oh goodness… mounds. It took me the entire month of October, and that was working on the sweater for 2-4 hours almost every day.

First worn: For pictures! Hopefully I’ll get to wear it later this month for an event.

Total cost: $2.50 for the knitting needles, $3 for the yarn, $1.50 for the buttons… total = $7! Now that is a project total I’d love to have more often!

Things I’m proud of in this sweater? #1: It’s the first sweater I’ve ever knit! #2: I was really careful to keep the pattern perfectly knit, sometimes taking out 5-10 rows after noticing I had made a mistake, so I could go back and fix it (let me just say that un-knitting, like seam ripping, is not nearly as exciting as knitting or sewing!). The end result is that the pattern is perfect everywhere… yes, I’m a perfectionist. #3: I did a really good job sewing up the seams, especially on the front band. #4: I learned out to knit a button hole! It’s not that hard, really, just casting off one row and on the next, but it does take your brain a little bit to figure it out. As I went along my button holes became neater and neater, as you would expect. #5: The band fits nicely around the neck opening and is a lovely way to finish off the sweater edge.

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Where front meets front band. See that seam? Nope, you don’t, because it looks like I knit it all at once! (ooo, and see my button holes?)

Things that make me call this sweater “wonky” or “original” or perhaps just simply “hand knit”? #1: That I had to cut corners because I was running out of yarn. The part of the band that goes around the neck is not as wide as the pattern calls for. And the part of the band that should have the buttons sewn to it is, well, non-existent. I literally ran out of yarn. #2: Because the button part of the band is non-existent, the neckline isn’t actually symmetrical… the side with the buttons doesn’t widen to be the same width at the button hole side. So the neck V doesn’t quite want to center, and the buttons/button holes wind up being slightly off center, too. (Honestly, though, I don’t think other people would notice those things if I didn’t point them out…) #3: Even with my sleeve alts, the sleeve is still rather large around (can you imagine if I hadn’t re-knitted them?!?) and they are a little long, even with a cuff. #4: Now that it’s finished, the sweater is rather heavy and prone to sagging some in places like the sleeves. Oh well!

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See the side with the buttons? Yup, no band there!

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Looking at my slightly loose, and rather long, sleeve.

For a first try at knitting a sweater, and using a historic pattern, I’m calling this one a  success!

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About quinnmburgess

Quinn M. Burgess creates reproduction and costume historic clothing. Her inspiration has a strong foundation in history: historic dress, social history, and material history. With the addition of clothing construction knowledge, her passions converge in an imaginative world of creative history that she loves to share with others.
This entry was posted in 1910s, 20th Century, Historical Sew Fortnightly, Knitting and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to HSF #23: 1917 “Knitted Sweater Of Angorina”

  1. Helen Fratena says:

    Hats off to you, Quinn! I have been a knitter for longer than I can remember.( That is, until I had completely worn out my left thumb basal joint. That’s why all your hand sewing makes me cringe in pain.) You’ve done a very nice job, learned several usefull techniques ( button holes, neatly seaming pieces together so they look knitted together, altering a pattern to have enough yarn to finish your project). You are very bold and creative, fearlessly tackling a wide range of projects. Do you do house remodeling too?

    • Thanks, Helen. I do enjoy variations from the normal sewing sometimes, though I can’t say I deal with houses, since I currently live in a rented apartment. In other people’s houses I’m more of a decorator than a builder. Generally I stay away from non-sewing tools… It makes my fingers hurt just thinking about your thumb. 😦

  2. Donna Knower says:

    Great job on the sweater!!! So proud you were able to overcome your yarn shortage and learned new stuff, too! As for the sagging, you can stitch narrow twill tape along the shoulder seams to help stabilize your project. Maybe also along any other seams you think will help, for that matter. In the future, if you suspect you’ll run short again, consider altering the pattern so you use a different yarn for sections as contrast features. Like make the banding a different color or different weight/ply.

    • Good idea with the twill tape, thanks! I did think about using a different yarn for part of the sweater, but I didn’t want to buy more yarn, and my stash isn’t currently accessible, plus I’m not sure it would have had anything anyway. It’s a creative idea, though!

  3. Gina White says:

    Oh Quinn! Your sweater is adorable! I love the color and the close ups of the back and forth weave design, button holes and collar! Just truly fabulous! You are the third blogger I have seen with completed knitting projects and I am jealous! Very well done!

    Blessings!
    Gina

  4. Eva says:

    You sweater looks beautiful, Quinn. I can hardly believe that this is your first knitting project!! Well done!!
    best,
    eva

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