The [once] ubiquitous roll neck sweater

I found my old XL charcoal roll neck sweater about a month ago.*

rollneck-neck

I got it for Christmas in the very late 1980s or early 1990s and wore it and wore it and wore it.

I wore it with leggings, I wore it with baggy army surplus pants, I wore it with the 1990s version of skinny jeans but the waists were still too high so they were really tight black mom jeans, and I wore it with long skirts and Docs.

A college boyfriend “borrowed” it for awhile until I had to “steal” it back.

I was pissed when I smeared a bit of PC-17 on it in a sculpture class (a bit of crust of it still remains, though I’ve no idea of what happened to that sculpture).

It was the only sweater I packed to study in Italy.

I wore it on an overnight train to Oktoberfest (a dumbass American move on my part – I got confused with the 24-hour time table and missed my original train with my fellow students) but I partied with a fun group of newly-made Italian friends in my compartment, drinking most of the night, and shoving the sweater under my head for an hour of sleep after watching the Alps at dawn.

I wore it when I worked in a doomed-to-fail gallery during long hours hovering in the drafty front entrance in wintertime. (It closed after I quit).

I wore it wandering in the woods near the former family home.

And I occasionally wore in grad school during night classes.

I mostly stopped wearing it in public by the end of the century, but still threw it on at home.  It’s got a few crudely patched spots and a few more that need to be sewn up – victims, I think, of a long ago moth attack, and some encounters with brambles and rusty nails.

One spring in the mid to late oughts, I packed it away with other non-public woolens, and never unpacked its particular bag until now.  It also has a brown sibling – one I was slightly wiser in ordering a large instead of XL, and I wore it fairly often, but mostly saved it for “good” – but I couldn’t tuck my knees under it as comfortably, so it never gained household status.

rollneck

When I was triumphantly lounging about in it again, N thought that it was his – party because I always sneak his wooly discards out of the charity bin – and he’s still eyeing it with skepticism and perhaps a little jealousy, but I can identify every mark on its wooly corpse and prove without a doubt – and with the help of many photographs – that it is, in fact, mine.

I look for them in thrift stores to unravel since I know the yarn is sturdy stuff (with the exception of a newer lighter grey one my mom had that shed great clumps of darker dingleberries and felted a  bit) but I recently saw the “vintage” ones going for a decent amount on ebay.  It’s odd to think of things I owned as an adult, or near-adult now deemed vintage, but it had to happen sooner or later…

My first sweater knitting project was almost a roll neck, but the years since the 1990s were then too few, and I abandoned it.  But now I’m seeing a few recent patterns with the neck and the bagginess and they feel familiar and friendly.  I’m also always attracted to simple top-down stockinette patterns that show off handspun and don’t have much fuss with construction or shaping, so I may knit one in the near future, just not one with armpits that hit my waist and a body large enough in which to tuck all of my body.

So now I’ll see if my decent old brown one will fetch a decent amount of some much-needed cash, as well as any older thrifted ones I have or will find, and save only the holiest of the old ones to unravel.

My baggy, poorly patched, crusty, old charcoal sweater isn’t going anywhere though – you hear that N?

*Need I say it’s the brand with the oarsman?

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1 Comment

Filed under art school, collecting, home

One response to “The [once] ubiquitous roll neck sweater

  1. A sweater you can tuck your knees under. I understand that.

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