This story starts with Andrew Wyeth one of the most famous American artists who died a few years ago. His most well known 1948 painting – Christina’s world – depicts his disabled neighbour crawling towards a house. It’s an extremely well know picture and I admit to liking his work which has a brilliant, restrained sparseness to it as well as being incredibly realistic.
Now I had also seen a few photographs of one of America’s best loved artists in his wonderful Shaker style home, and in many of these pictures he is wearing what look very much like hand knitted sweaters. His personal style seems to be somewhat Beatnik with narrow trousers, with a tunic length jersey over a closer fitting polo neck.
Anyway you may want to know more about him!
Helga, above, was also a subject, clothed and unclothed, in dozens of his paintings. One of my favourites is of her is wearing a brown polo neck jumper. It looks well worn and comfortable. Her hair looks a bit greasy and plaited for convenience rather than looks. Her face, in repose, is sensitive and reflective. I love her colouring. Don’t you find this a stunning portrait? So soft and restrained. Every hair and line of her face individually rendered. And the construction of her jersey – the knitting, the neckline and shoulder seams – is so accurately recorded you feel this man knew something about knitting.
So to get to the punch line.
I was rather taken with this 1996 photograph of Andrew Wyeth by Harry Benson “wearing one of several New Zealand sweaters knitted by his wife Betsy”.
It is a wonderful pattern and looks great on Wyeth.
Zimmermann’s book Knit One Knit All describes how to make it. Some of the photographs are a bit fuddy but this is a jersey with enormous potential. The knee length version includes a Guernsey motif on the body and sleeve, and was knitted by Mrs Wyeth.
I pounced on the pattern as it did something I had been imagining – knitting a jersey in stocking stitch in the round, then separating for the armholes and continuing in garter stitch so that purl stitches could be avoided. And of course Elizabeth had already invented this jersey but with a wonderful detail. Inspired by the Rangitoto volcano of New Zealand, she decreases the front and back down to a single stitch. For front and back we then pick up stitches along the gently sloping edge and knit back and forth in garter stitch, using short rows to make the jumper fit well around the neck both back and front. The neckline is very nice.
I really like this jersey, which has lots of possibilities. I think a sleeveless version might be nice. Or even a short sleeve version. In the end I just knitted it up, more or less as described, in my bargain cashmere/merino wool from Colourmart. I finished it last weekend and wore it for work – and I love it. But I want to play with the basic pattern a bit. My yoke is much more modest that EZs, and my short rows are not done very professionally so there is an inadvertent lacey look. It has gussets which I don’t really approve of. So there will be another one.
Next time I will make the sweater a bit closer fitting so the front column is neater with lesser overhang on the dropped shoulders. I think this DK yarn is better with 4.5 mms needles rather than the 5 mms I used. I like the sleeveless look. Maybe a version with shorter sleeves. I am going to play with this pattern a bit and try a couple more versions. It has the wonderful clever design that I so enjoy. I am wondering if any of the men in my life want a blue, cashmere version.