Saturday, August 11, 2007

The "Star Family Sweater Book", 1947

I received this pattern book from my "No Sheep Swap" pal in June. This swap took place through the KAL blog for the book No Sheep For You (Amy Singer, Interweave Press, 2007).

Evidently I must have mentioned that I like vintage patterns in my questionnaire, or my Secret Pal is exceptionally telepathic. Anyway, my first surprise package contained the "Star Family Sweater Book":

From the cover, you can tell right away that the Star Family does not contain Brangelina. Which is a big relief, if you ask me.

Of course, "Star" actually refers to the brand of yarn that they want you to use in the patterns. The grim black-and-white pictures of what look like really crappy yarns don't do much to sell themselves, hence the alleged need for this pattern booklet.

Do the patterns help either? Let's take a look.

Right off the bat, they assume the reader possesses a certain amount of initiative. The amount, however, is minimal. To wit:

Start knitting, Ace!

Considering that the copy writer is urging the reader to "Give play to your imagination," it's a shame that the professional that wrote this pattern couldn't imagine any variations more exciting than the ones shown here. Forget about adding colorwork, lowering the neckline a millimeter or two, using stitch patterns other than stockinette or rib, or any of that fancy-schmancy stuff. Instead, try:

1) tacking a "necklace" of itchy wool flowers all around the neckline -- presumably this is to remind you that, while you are freezing your butt off in the middle of winter with an itchy neck, that bitch down the block with the doctor husband got to go to Hawaii;

2) making the exact same sweater with long sleeves-- that is, if you're the kind of wild woman that can bear knitting past where the instructions tell you to stop;

3) embroidering your initials over one boob (it's all the rage in Newport this season!); or

4) sewing swatches as close as possible to your lady parts. Put a button on them and call them "pockets"! All the better to grope you with, my dear. Plus, we all know how flattering it is to create extra bulk just below the waistline.

Seriously, though-- they just don't make bras like this anymore. Look at how far apart her girls are: practically under her armpits. That was back in the day when lingerie designers came from the ranks of future NASA engineers. Remember that scene in "Vertigo" when Barbara Bel Geddes is designing a bra based on the engineering principles used in a suspension bridge? I rest my case.

In case you never learned how to write, Miss Vanek will be more than happy to write out the alphabet for you. Better get someone lined up to read it to you when it arrives in the mail!

And how exactly does one push up one's sleeves "college fashion"? I never learned a particular method of sleeve-pushing while I was in college. I mainly learned things like exactly how much time spent cramming yields a B+ grade on the final (about 9 hours) and What Activities Not to Attempt While Under the Influence (cooking; manicures; studying for the LSAT).

Good thing they stopped making floss out of wool. It always broke off when you tried flossing between the back molars. Besides, it made your entire mouth smell like Wet Dog.

I like the way Miss Vanek tries to sell knitting as a hobby-- it's a cure for the jitters and shakes! I got news for you, Miss V.-- the type of people who possess this much nervous energy are never going to be able to sit still long enough to learn how to knit. Especially with "wool floss" (and size 00 needles, I'm guessing.) Besides, yarn is expensive and every spare cent goes to diet pills and the three pounds of coffee a week.

Note how she reassures these Nervous Nellies that the added decorative touches can be taken off "at will"-- as opposed to the decorative touches that just hop off your sweater whenever they feel like it.

What son wouldn't want to wear a sweater "like Dad's", you ask? Pretty much every single kid I've ever met in my life. How embarrassing.

More expert advice from Miss Vanek-- two whole ways to cast on! And that's all, apparently. I guess since Miss V. was picturing an audience of jittery, paranoid speed addicts, she kept the technical section short and sweet.

And the coup de grace-- my favorite project in the booklet (not that the competition was exactly fierce):

It's The Bisexual Sweater!

However, I really don't think that it's fair to imply that it's somehow "wrong" for the sweater to be "gay by day". A sweater's choice of coordinating separates is its own business and nobody else's, and if it wants to hang out with the other girly sweaters during the day but dress up in a skirt and follow the fleet at night, who are we to judge?

Frankly, I don't think this sweater is right at any time of the day or night, but maybe that's just me.


pieheart said...

At the risk of sounding un-PC, I think that last sweater needs to stay firmly in the closet! Or at least the steamer trunk.

Makes you wonder what people are going to say about our knitting books in 50+ years!

Knit and fall back in it said...

I have to agree with pieheart - that last sweater should remain a closet case!

Kristina B said...

I'm laughing out loud reading your commentary!!

FugueStateKnits said...

Are we to infer that this sweater is to be worn on the "down low?"
Sorry - couldn't resist!
Love your commentary!
Weren't the LSATs a blast? NOT.
Joan G a/k/a FSK

T. said...

You're killing me Stitch-ay! Very intuitive commentary

Beth said...

No, though some have claimed that I may be telepathic, I am not. You did tell me in an e-mail that you like vintage patterns. Sounds like you at least got some good laughs out of this one - your review of it cracked me up!