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  • November 13, 2023 2 min read

    This week, you may have seen my reel about how a classic sweater is timeless and never goes out of style. The sweater in that video is more than 30 years old, and I still love it and think it looks good. It’s got that feel that’s actually having quite a moment with the Quiet Luxury trend.

    I bought the yarn at a store that’s still there - Uncommon Threads in Los Altos, California. It was 100% wool, and I distinctly recall that it was $4 per 2-oz skein and that I needed 8 skeins.  I remember thinking, even back in 1989, that this sweater was a bargain!  It certainly was, especially when you consider that even now, it still looks pretty much brand new.

    Ellen in pink cabled cardigan

    It’s one of the few sweaters from back in the day that I still have, since many of the things I knit have run their style course. But this one has stayed true. It’s a classic, and such a staple in my wardrobe that I don’t really even look at it anymore. I just put it on.  

    But today, I started feeling a little cringey when I examined my early efforts.  Maybe it was because I was putting it out there on social media and wondered what people would think of the cables in the seams that don’t match up, the buttonholes that are a sight, and the sleeve increases completely lacking in finesse.  

    I broke my own rule and ignored the advice I am so quick to dole out to you.  

    Be gentle with your former self. We are all learning and doing better all the time.  

    Is this sweater up to the standards I set for myself today? Maybe not, but it was still pretty darn good for a completely self-taught knitter with just 5 years under her belt. 

    I learned a lot with this sweater too.  There’s a beautiful slipped stitch edge on the button band, and the button band was worked separately and seamed.  And did I mention there are buttonholes?  As I look at the pattern now I see that it just says “Work in 1/1 ribbing making 6  buttonholes”  So those clumpy buttonholes represented a major triumph.

    If I could go back, there are things I would tell my adventurous new knitter self about buttonholes and seaming, and so much more, but the first and most important thing I would say is this: 

    Brava, young Ellen!  Congratulations on stepping into new territory and figuring things out on your own.  This is a wonderful learning opportunity, and I’m super proud of you.  Knit on with courage and confidence. You have no idea where this will take you!

     ~With much love and affection,
    Older Ellen

    Do you have sweaters from back when you were a newer knitter? That may be last year, or it may be 40 or 50 years ago.  Doesn’t matter.  Remember to always be kind to yourself and cherish your early work - it is a testament to your growing skill and to your willingness to do and learn, learn, and do. 

    Bravi, all of you. 

    With  much love and affection,

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