The black spot to the left is in fact the sweater I am knitting of Knit Picks new yarn, Telemark. I have given it a name: Pipes.

I used to be opposed to the naming of sweaters, finding it a little precious, but now that I find myself writing about them, I have to admit that saying “Jasmine” or “Hopkins” or “Pipes” is much handier than saying “the second Elsebeth Lavold lace raglan sweater” or “the sweater I am making out of variegated yarn, against my better judgement” or “the sweater I am knitting of Knit Picks new yarn.”

Lisa Boyer recommends naming projects mysteriously. She points out that if you name something “Roses,” people will expect to discern some roses in there, and be disappointed if they do not succeed in doing so. However, you have no idea why the heck I have named this sweater Pipes and will not be disappointed when you see only a shadowy shape on your screen.

Actually, when I scan this sweater, the picture comes up nicely and shows the sophisticated color combination and nice geometric patterning. It is only when I push the “best for web” button that it turns into a black spot. Some of you may be able to see it quite well.

I continue to like this yarn. It has a firm, smooth hand and should be very good for a cold winter. #2 daughter, for whom it is destined, is now living permanently in a gardening Zone 5 region, so she will need something warm.

We do not need anything warm here right now. It is hot and muggy and horrible. When Pipes gets a bit bigger, it may have to join Erin in the knitting basket, waiting for cooler weather. That’s Erin on the right, there.

Erin and Pipes are both the kind of sweater that is made in one piece. That makes them bigger and heavier to knit than the more modern kind that is knitted in pieces.

When knitting things flat and sewing the bits together came into fashion in the 20th century, it was felt that this process made for a better fit and a more sophisticated look. Tricks of shaping that people are now rediscovering (changing needle sizes for waist shaping, for example, and short row shaping) were looked down upon as peasant methods. Seams were thought to provide greater stability and a more chic line.

Knit to Fit, a textbook I inherited from my grandmother, assures us that now (in the 1950s) thanks to more scientifically designed foundation garments, women had better figures and could wear better-fitted garments. Thus, the new dressmaker-styled sweaters. And of course the bother of sewing all the bits together.

I assume that what the authors had in mind was this silhouette, popular at the turn of the last century. This is Elizabeth Catherine, my great-great-grandmother, who was born in Missouri in 1847.

Her father was a slave runner from Virginia who settled in Missouri after he had given up this wickedness and commenced to do good works, and eventually ended up in the legislature.

Elizabeth Catherine had a passel of children, and was quite an old lady by the time this picture was taken, and wouldn’t have looked her best in a fitted sweater.

This is what old ladies looked like in those days. Nowadays many of them do indeed look far more chic than this. I don’t know whether it is the result of scientific undergarments or not.

 In case you are wondering, here is a picture of a scientifically designed undergarment from that era. I can’t quite imagine Elizabeth Catherine in such a thing, but perhaps her daughters or granddaughters wore them. Maybe her great-granddaughter, my mother, did. Someone must have worn them. I think they were the equivalent of the Wonderbra in their day.

The 1950s, when the first edition of Knit to Fit was written, complete with exercises to do (answers in the back of the book) and the correct prices to charge for finishing a sweater for a client (with and without ribbon), was the day of the Hollywood Sweater Girl. Sweaters had been things worn for work, and then for sport, and by the 1920s (when the Prince of Wales was photographed in his golf sweater), they became something to wear in the drawing room in order to show how sporty you were. Perhaps like our designer sweatshirts now. In the 1940s and ’50s, they became staples of women’s clothing, helped along by Lana Turner and her ilk, presumably in their scientific undergarments.

I will be joining the old ladies for Sunday School this morning, and then church, and then going back to work. There could be sewing and knitting at some point before and/or after these plans. I will endeavor not to consider how scientific the old ladies’ undergarments might be during class, as it is none of my business. I am not knitting sweaters for any of them.