Saturday, August 15, 2009

Seek and Find (or Search and Destroy)

I'm on a mission of late. Actually, I have been on this mission for several months now but not always really actively searched as in every.

But last night and this morning, I combed over 80 pages -consisting of 50 entries per page -on EBay in search of one thing!

And what is that one thing?

It's a knitting/crochet pattern leaflet, that's what it is!

The one I am searching was published probably in the late 60s, maybe very early 70s but definitely before spring of 1973.

I'm not 100% sure who published this leaflet/pamphlet but I think it may have been done by Leisure Arts as I used to purchase a lot of their leaflets with patterns/instructions for knitting and crocheted stuff.

I've been searching for this one particular leaflet for about the past 18 months now. In the process, I have found a few other knitting/crochet pattern books that I once had but somehow have mysteriously disappeared and I've been able to purchase I believe four or five of those through a little shop I found online, up in Oregon, that specializes in Vintage Pattern Books and such. And, the nice thing was I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg to replace those books either plus the service was very fast and efficient.

But anyway, back to my search for this one particular leaflet.

As I recall, it was a leaflet that pictured I believe four items on it and they were capes or ponchos. I am pretty sure this leaflet had a photo of a cape or poncho that was crocheted and was shown in red. The item pictured in this leaflet -and which is the reason I am searching for it -is a cape, shown in a white or ecru yarn. It is knitted and the cape has slits in the front for one's hand. The hemline of this item is such that the panels -which have a beautiful cable unning down each one -come together then in points at the hemline.

That's probably a pretty crappy description of the hemline but its the only way I can describe it from my memory.

Why do I want this leaflet and for that pattern in particular?

Well, back in the late winter/early spring of 1973, I bought this particular leaflet and decided in a moment of insanity I might add, that I was going to make this particular cape and give it to my Mom for Mother's Day that year.

I had about 6 or 7 skeins of a nice, very pretty sort of forest green bulky weight yarn by Bernat that I had found on sale at a terrific price (I think I picked the yarn up for like at most, $1.00 per 3.5 ounce skein) and I figured this yarn would be perfect for that particular cape pattern.

Keep in mind that back then I was truly a novice knitter but a very bold, daring one too. I am -36 years later - still a lot the "novice" knitter actually. I have knitted several things -yes, but I am still far from an expert and not really what one would term a fast knitter either although I am a tad faster with the needles now than I was then. Plus now I don't have the responsibility of the TOTAL care of a toddler, 7-year-old, a husband, house, etc., so now, I could be termed maybe a "Lady of Leisure" type of knitter and can concentrate more on a project to its end today than I could do back then.

Anyway, back to my cape story and the reason I am searching for this particular pattern leaflet.

I began working on that cape probably around the end of March of 1973. And though it was the only the second time in my life I had ever done anything involving a cable stitch, surprisingly enough, it was looking pretty decent from the start.

But my progress -due to all the other responsibilities I had back then, plus my newness to the craft itself -was still slow. Too slow, obviously, for me to finish that cape in time to give it to my Mom for Mother's Day that year.

But, to my credit, I did persevere with the work on it and told myself, okay -I'll get it done and give it to her for her birthday which was in early November.

That deadline came and passed and I was still working away on that damned cape. So I moved my deadline up to "I'll give it to her for Christmas."

Christmas that year did NOT have that cape under the tree though. But I was so close to finishing it that I think I put a note in a card to my Mom that said your gift will be along very shortly just as soon as I finish the last touches on it and about a week after Christmas of 1973, I did get it completed and presented it to my Mom as a belated Christmas/Birthday/Mother's Day gift, kind of all knitted into one cape.

I wish I had taken a photo of it that I could post here because to be honest, it was one of the best projects I have ever conpleted. Certainly the largest as clothing items go! (And also probably the most complicated too -what with the cable stitching and the way the cape hung, etc.)

But the thing about that cape that makes me want that pattern to try to make another one like it is that it is the ONLY item I ever made -knitted, crocheted, sewn, embroidered -whatever -that I gave to my Mom and that she actually liked and used!

My Mom was not a big knitting fan although she could knit, she wasn't that interested in yarn and knitting or crochet for that matter either. She could embroider too -and was quite meticulous with that but it wasn't that high on her crafting favorites list either.

But she was a seamstress -and again, a very meticulous one. (I am NOT my mother's daughter -as that expression goes -where the term "meticulous" is applied! And that - my bad habits and practices with respect to sewing in particular -used to drive my Mom totally berserk!)

Mom made many of my clothes when I was a child -beautifully sewn dresses, skirts, blouses, even made me two coats too -one was a spring coat and the other, a very heavy -VERY, VERY warm, winter coat crafted from a very good piece of wool fabric she picked up at a mill outlet store over in Altoona.

My Mom also was the seamstress on our street who our neighbors would come to with clothing in need of a bit of repair or alterations. She could take a skirt my neighbor's daughter bought and which, to fit over her backside, she had to buy said skirt in a size about two sizes larger than what she needed for her waist. And Mom altered it so the waistband fit her although as I recall, she grumped a good bit about that job as she felt the skirt was "Skin-tight" to begin with.

My Mom also made me a gown when I was a junior in high school so that I had one if, on the rare chance, I was invited to go to the Prom. (I wasn't so the gown wasn't needed for that.) But, I did need one to wear for the high school's spring concert. All the girls in the school chorus were to wear a "prom-type" dress when we performed the spring concert so I was all set for that event at any rate.

However, due to my Mom's tailoring of clothing -but this only applied to clothing for me, I might add -the only time I would ever wear that gown was to that concert.

Although she could sew from start to finish or alter any garment to fit like a glove for others -or for herself -when it came to my clothing, particularly once I was in my teens, this was a task she found impossible to do then. My clothes would have been much better in the "fitting" department if they were oh, say A-line dresses to begin with -no waistline to worry about doing a nip and tuck there to them, you know.

That gown, though beautifully sewn -of a taffeta fabric with a tulle overlay on it and spaghetti straps -fit so tightly across my bust that it totally pulled my boobs flat as a pancake. It had a very full, gathered skirt which, obvious where it attached at the bodice -which was intended to be the "flattening" portion of said gown -did not fit my actual waist. No, indeed. Instead it flared out at the waist making me look much, much heavier, out of proportion than I actually was. (Truth to be told here, back then in high school I was not overweight at all -just the standard for a person of my height and bone structure.)

When Mom would fit anything on me with respect to the waist and hips, as she would check the sizing while I was trying a item on, she would put not just her finger in between the fabric and my waist or hips, but she would insert her hand and then, not have that hand flat against my body to do the "fitting" but rather, she would have the side of her hand against my skin and hold it that way between my skin and the fabric, all the while announcing to me "Well, you certainly can't have that any tighter there or you'll never be able to get into it!" Hmmm. She never saw a darned thing wrong with that picture either, ya know!

My Mom -as I mentioned above -was a meticulous seamstress and along with that -or because of that -she was also a slow -very SLOW seamstress. Of course, she -like me in this respect -was also very good at procrastination too so she might start a project, work on it a bit, put it down and not pick it up again for oh, maybe a year of two -sometimes even more. (After she died and I was going through her stuff, I came across a dress she had started to make for me when I was about nine or ten years old -a lightweight wool fabric -intended to be a special occasion dress for me for Christmas that year I believe -and the farthest she had come in working on it was that she had the pieces basted together and then, she put it down and never picked it up again!) But, to her, if you were going to sew something, it had to be done so every. single. seam. was exactly straight, done to the specs on the pattern, trimmed around the curves just so -no margin for error at all in her workmanship!

The year before I decided to tackle this knitting project for her, I had come on the idea of sewing a coat for my older daughter -who was in kindergarten then. (Yes, I was a bit cocky about what I could or could not sew too back then but my theory was if my Mom could sew not just one but two coats for me and if I could find a pattern that was labeled as "easy to sew" then I surely could do the same, couldn't I?) I did find an "easy-sew" pattern for my daughter -a coat with raglan sleeves (I hated trying to contend with set-in sleeves -still not a huge fan of that come to think of it). Purchased the fabric and liner at a little fabric shop in Philipsburg (for anyone reading this who grew up around here or still lives in this area -yes, back in 1973, there was a very nice little fabric shop in Philipsburg and I still miss it not being there any more!) and decided one Monday morning when my ex had to go to Pittsburgh for a two-day training class for his job, and my daughter was home sick from school that day, that it was the ideal time for me to begin work on said coat. I could cut it out, sew and sew and sew -not having to stop to take her to school, not having to stop to cook a big supper, do dishes, etc., etc. and I could stay up as late as I wanted or needed to work on this coat then too.) I did that and by 6 p.m. the following day I had it all together with only the buttonholes left to do. Another of my nemesis things -buttonholes! I had no buttonhole maker for that machine so had to try my best to do them by hand and they were not dismal failures but they also were far from perfect too. Thankfully, the buttons I picked pretty much covered the buttonholes! And, voila -the coat was done.

Carrie -my daughter -LOVED it!

When we came down from Philipsburg a couple days later to see my Mom and Carrie had that coat on, she announced as soon as she got inside the house to Grandma "LOOK, Gram! My Mommy made this coat for me!" And my Mom, knowing how my skills were drastically apart from hers and that I had to have made tons of errors on this because, reason number one and foremost, I had made the damned coat, proceeded to take the coat, turn it inside out and inspect every. freaking. seam! And then she pointed out to me -in her snarkiest voice too -every freaking mistake that existed on that damned coat! (Yes there were many but as long as they were in the inside -not a seam that showed to the outer world that wasn't perfectly straight, I had ignored them and that was a terrible sin in her book, you see!)

My ex-husband was so angry at her for doing that with that coat, he grabbed it from her, told Carrie to "put the damned coat on, we're going home NOW!" and home we went. With my Mom standing in the doorway sputtering away, still, at me, that I needed to learn the correct way to sew and that to make a coat, well it would take at least 4-6 weeks to do it right so it certainly couldn't possibly be done in say 36 hours or so, ya know!

Well, that was pretty much how my Mom's and my relationship was throughout much of my life. I rarely did anything that managed to please her. Our time together generally was pretty confrontational -a lot of yelling, screaming (cursing on my part) usually ensued between us.

I always wished we could have had a better, much closer relationship but then too, I probably was so bull-headed and obstinent as to not be willing to bend at all to do any of her biddings either then. If she were alive today, I might be better able to cope with her ideas -maybe. I like to think I may have mellowed enough in the past almost 30 years now since she passed that I could do that. Maybe.

So anyway, I think you can see now why I would like to have that pattern again and to try to make another cape -for myself this time around.

And I'd like to do it as a means to remember my Mom and the one thing I did make that pleased her as well as to show myself that if I did it once before, I can do it again.

So if you have -or know anyone -who is an avid collector of knitting pattern books, leaflets and the like -would you check or ask others to check their stash and see if they might possibly have a leaflet that has a picture on the front of a cape -in white yarn with cables and pointed ending along the hemline from around 1970-72 I suppose and let me know.

(I used to have a couple boxes of craft magazines, knitting book-magazine, leaflets, etc., that I had acquired from about 1969 until the mid-90s but they mysteriously disappeared -all ut a couple of them. Methinks my daughter and sil packed them up and they are stashed now either in my son's attic or the garage at his place. Hopefully, they didn't meet up with a flaming death by the sil's bent for burning things as garbage that he doesn't know/understand, much less value, for what these things really are -treasures and collectibles of mine!)

Now, I think I shall move away from the computer to my lovely recliner and continue working on the sweater I am knitting for Maya -probably for her birthday in October b ut maybe for the early, chill school days of September too! I have the back and one sleeve completed thus far and have only been working on it since Sunday or Mondy of this past week.

Maybe, just maybe, some of the knitted things I have made -and hopefully this sweater too -will pass muster with Mom if she's looking down from wherever and watching me.


Maggie May said...

I sincerely hope you manage to get this pattern, Jeni.
What a task though to find it.
You sound as though you have infinite patience though, so I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see a picture of one that you made gracing your blog in the very near future!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeni
The knitted coat sounds wonderful and very clever of you. Not to mention extremely patient! Glad your daughter loved it.

My late mother in law was a big knitter and seamstress, there are many patterns in this house which are decades old and still bags of wool which she used to use many years ago. I can't part with it because it is a part of her.

CJ xx

fermicat said...

I thought Ebay had everything under the sun. Hope you get that pattern some day.

Berni said...

You may have checked this site already but here are some old crochet patterns from that era

TechnoBabe said...

Hi Jeni,
Gosh, I sure wish I could find that pattern for you or tell you exactly where to get it. With your determination and brains, you will surely get it and then the fun will begin. I want to see a picture of the finished product some day!!!

Travis said...

Now that's dedication. I hope you find the pattern.

Marguerite said...

That's what I love about you, Jeni, you are so determined and dedicated. hope that you find the pattern.

Debo Blue said...

Jeni-one of these days I'm gonna print out each of your posts, put them in a book to read on quiet rainy days.

I love imagining u on stage, flat chested and billowing out. And I love that your ex stood up for u abt Carrie's coat.

And the wistful bittersweet memories of your mom and that pattern.

I know a seamstress her in Phx, I'm going to put him on the case too to see if he can help find that pattern. He works for Joanne's fabrics.

Suldog said...

Well, I wish you did have the photo to post. I'm always interested seeing anyone's best work, no matter if it might be from a medium I'm not a fanatic about. I admire anyone's hard effort at making something beautiful.

Dr.John said...

It's sad your mother could perfect her sewing but not her relationship to her daughter. My father was a great carpenter and I can barely drive a nail but he never made fun of the work I did . He even pretended to like the desk I built. I knew he could have built it much better but he would never have hurt me by saying so.
But you seem to be doing a much better job thsat your mother where it really counts. Good for you.

terri said...

I can see why it is so important to you to find this pattern, and I really hope you do. I'm sorry your relationship with your mom was so stressful at times. I'll bet that if you can recreate the cape it very definitely WILL keep some of the better memories in the forefront of your mind.

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

A former coworker tried to teach me to crochet and I failed miserably! lol I'm so not good at that stuff.

Linda said...

Isn't it great that there are things like eBay where you can search for long-lost patterns and the like? I sure hope you find that pattern and all of the hours spent combing over the internet pages pans out for you.