In Which a Mystery is Solved

I’ve finished the front and back of the new sweatshirt sweater, so I’m ready to march onward with the sleeves.

New and old sweaters

As I mentioned before, the original sweater was one I made around 1970 – my first real knitting project, and the last until around 2005 when I picked it up again. After making this sweater, I guess I just decided that knitting took too long, and I’d rather crochet. Of course, crochet was pretty popular in the ’70’s anyway.

I don’t remember where the sweater pattern came from, but I think it was in a women’s magazine. I do remember that the pattern called for stripes of either blue or green on a white background, and I decided to make it with white stripes on a green background instead. I also don’t know whether the pattern called for this yarn, or if it’s just the yarn I decided to use.

What I did remember about the yarn is that I bought it at a Utah-based discount department store called “Grand Central”, which was later purchased by Fred Meyer. The only reason I know that is because I had a few skeins of leftover yarn that I kept for many years. I probably had it until around 15 years ago, when I figured I probably wouldn’t ever use it for anything (especially since I didn’t really expect to take up knitting again). When I did finally get rid of it, I remember seeing the price tag from Grand Central on it, and I remembered that I had to go to a couple of stores to get enough of the yarn for the sweater.

Yesterday I thought it would be interesting to see if I could figure out what yarn it was.

Here is what I knew about the yarn:

  • Purchased around 1970, so almost certainly discontinued.
  • Popular mass-market yarn, considering where it was purchased.
  • Boucle texture.
  • Worsted-to-bulky, but probably aran or bulky.
  • Cotton blend with acrylic or polyester. Definitely no animal fiber content.
  • Came in an oblong center-pull skein (I could remember pretty much what the skeins looked like).

It was quite distinctive since the yarn had little fluffy bits and hard-twisted bits. The white yarn was all white, and the green yarn had a base of white yarn with threads of black, green, and blue-green running through it, and fluffy bits of green and blue-green.

Bernat Calico sweater

I put on my Deerstalker detective hat, headed to Ravelry’s advanced search for yarn, and typed “boucle” into the search box. Then I whittled down the options by selecting only worsted through bulky weights, discontinued yarns, and yarns with a photo. I excluded all animal fibers and ones I knew wouldn’t have been used back then, like soy and Tencel. I was able to get it down to around 120 matches. Scrolling down through the list, I recognized the yarn and label as soon as I saw it. Bernat Calico. I was pretty sure that was the right one from the main yarn photo, but I had absolutely no doubt when I saw this stash photo in what had to be the same colorway. Mystery solved!

It’s not a soft yarn, but I have to admit, it wears like iron. Over 40 years of machine washing and drying, and it still looks relatively new. Wearing old sweaters must run in the family. A couple of months ago, my mother told me she put on an orange mohair sweater, and remembered that she was knitting the sleeve of it when she heard on the news that President Kennedy had been shot.

Now if only I could identify the pattern…

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10 Responses to In Which a Mystery is Solved

  1. Marilyn says:

    Maybe Ravelry can help you there too… 🙂

  2. margene says:

    Great sleuthing! It’s still a nice looking sweater and you wear it well.

  3. Monica says:

    So… call me crazy, but I think your new sweater would look great with the striped sleeves of your old sweater.

  4. Lynn in Tucson says:

    Did you know that today is National Radio Day? There was a piece on NPR this afternoon about where people were when they heard about Pearl Harbor, Bay of Pigs, Kennedy’s assassination…. My knitting always reminds me of what I was listening to when I was working on it last.

  5. Chris says:

    Y’know, I think I actually picked up a couple of skeins of that yarn at a thrift store once upon a time. I don’t have it anymore, so I have to wonder what I did with it.

  6. Cookie says:

    You are so good.

  7. (Not That) Joan says:

    You know what impresses me even more than your research or the fact that your sweater still lives?

    The fact that you can still wear stuff from back when you were a teen-ager. Jealoussss! 🙂

  8. Stacey says:

    I agree with Not That Joan. Jealous! Wonderful sleuthing skills you have there. What did we do before ravelry?

  9. redsilvia says:

    I wouldn’t have come up with that, I’d have just continued to wonder. I marvel at your inquiring mind that you’ve backed up with common sense. Nice work! Now finish the sweater 😉

  10. Kitten says:

    Count me in with Not That Joan and Squish.

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