Knit Cabled Vests in the CKC crowdsourced collection

Tis the Season for gift giving and all things wooly! 

A woman pictured sitting under a Christmas tree, knitting a sleeveless sweater for a soldier. It is in the collection of the University of North Texas Special Collections, and available through CKC's Museum and Archives collection
From the University Photography Collection (U0458), University of North Texas Special Collections: Woman Knitting Clothes for Soldiers (USA), 1942,UNTA_U0458-100-829-03 https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc270899/ 
Found in CKC’s archive, digital.centerforknitandcrochet.org by searching “Christmas.”

We love seeing people archive their knit and crochet gifts for all special occasions and since the gift-giving holidays are upon us, we wanted to take time to highlight some gifts in the CKC archives. 

To help join us in celebrating all things gifted and knitted, we have the talented Sydney Crabaugh (aka @SquidneyKnits). Sydney has worked in the yarn and knitting industry for over ten years, and currently resides in Maine where she is able to wear hand knits all year round.   

You’re elbow deep in yarn finishing up Knitmas, something you’ve done for a while now. What’s the history of this special knitted-Christmas tradition?

I started Knitmas about eight years ago, though I never thought it would grow into what it is now! It started with a good handful of knitted gifts (maybe nine or so), but the next year that number doubled, and then the following year doubled again. Here’s the thing: I love knitting, and I love people. When contemplating how to gift items that would show my care and appreciation for the people in my life, knitting was the immediate answer.

You have a fabulous array of vintage knitting projects that you share on your Instagram, Ravelry and even in an interview with Kristy Glass Knits. They’re such a fabulous way of bringing handicraft history to life. Do you have a favorite way to find vintage patterns? 

Thank you! My favorite way to interact with these patterns is working from the hardcopy booklets. I have a pretty hefty stack of vintage knitting magazines, books, and leaflets, and I find such joy in having the physical copy of the pattern in front of me– the very same copy that a knitter worked from seventy or eighty years ago. That tangible connection to history is what I am constantly chasing, and hand making items from an original pattern is such a special way to harness that feeling.

We have some unfinished projects in our archive like this fabulous beaded bag, and even encouraged people to show us their incomplete projects for World UFO Day. I know some of your Knitmas projects can go into the next year, but have any of them stayed UFOs?

Oh my goodness, it’s confession time! I usually have 1-3 projects that have been languishing from the year before. This is typically due to: an overly-ambitious sized project; a project that hurts my hands to work on for too long; or a project that I absolutely detest making and have no motivation to finish. Often, it is a combination of these reasons, and then it becomes: The-perfect-UFO-storm. The gift that took the longest was a set of two (yes, two) adult-sized 1940s cabled vests in a sport weight yarn. I am very proud to say that these were finished in June 2020, nearly two years later, and are now being worn and loved by the recipients. 

Upon further thought, I happened to remember an unfinished wool bikini that was destined for my sister-in-law about five years ago, but let’s just pretend that doesn’t exist… 😉

An image of a partially knit beaded bag from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Institution Design Museum. It is also available on CKC's Museum and Archive collection
From the Textiles Collection at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Institution Design Museum: Unfinished Bag (USA), 19th century; silk thread, cut steel beads; H x W: 16 x 8.5 cm (6 5/16 x 3 3/8 in.); 1955-63-3, https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18404757/
Found in CKC’s archive, digital.centerforknitandcrochet.org by searching “unfinished.”

We’re encouraging people to archive their knitted gifts in our crowdsourced collection.What is one gift you’ve knit that you would like to have preserved in the archives?  

Here are the recently finished 1940s cable vests and the description I wrote for them

Two matching handknit vests made from an original 1940s pattern. The yarn used was Purl Soho Linen Quill held double. Yarn content is a blend of wool, alpaca, and linen, and the colorway is Juniper Green. Pattern was retrieved from a hardcopy vintage magazine copyrighted 1942. 

These vests were made for two of my very dearest friends who live in Sweden. I met them both via instagram in 2012, and we met in person for the first time in 2018. We knew in an instant that the three of us were soul mates, fated to know each other and be life long friends. The two friends are a couple, now married, and love to wear vintage clothing. Even more so, they love to match. I wanted to make something for them that evoked their personal styles, and allow them to perfectly match with vintage items (something that is very difficult to do). These took almost two years to finish, but it was worth it. 

Knitted Vests from the Center for Knit and Crochet crowdsourced collection

From the crowdsourced collection at the Center for Knit and Crochet: Two 1940s Cable Vests; wool, alpaca, and linen; 2020.021, https://digital.centerforknitandcrochet.org/items/show/24096

You can learn more about Sydney’s Knitmas projects from her interviews with Kristy Glass Knits in 2016, 2018, 2019, and even this year! If you want to see more of her great projects head over to her Instagram. @SquidneyKnits or her Ravelry page.

Now is your turn! We want to see gifts of all kinds – old and new, big and small, for holidays, charity or just-because. Show us your knitted or crocheted gifts any time of year, by contributing to our crowdsourced archive here or reach out to us to have your story featured.

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