Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I Will If I Wanna

And we're back.

And you won't believe what I want to make. Let me show you the engraving.

Yes, engraving. Because you know how I am.

bathingdrawers

Gentleman's Bathing Drawers, as offered by Weldon's Practical Knitter in the 1880s/1890s.

You may well ask what I'm going to need these for. For bathing, silly. Specifically for bathing on the "Nautical Knitting" cruise with Melissa Leapman aboard the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas in December. We leave from Ft. Lauderdale, and stop in Belize and Cozumel. There will be lots of water in between.

(Booking is going on now–more details are here.)

You can't very well go to the Caribbean in December on a boat with ten swimming pools and not have a pair of bathing drawers.

I've had little fond silent dreams of knitting my own swimming costume since the first time I saw one. I think it was in Rutt's A History of Hand Knitting. Or maybe not.

I haven't said much about that particular fond silent dream because people don't take it too well when you say you plan to knit something and then wear it into the water. They don't give you the ol' thumbs up and shout, "Godspeed, you crazy bastard!"

They act, instead, as though you've just announced that you intend to row across the Atlantic Ocean in a teaspoon, or shoot an apple off the cat's head with a BB gun, or watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians un-ironically.

It will itch! they cry.

It will sag! they cry.

You will look stupid! they cry.

You will waste time! they especially cry.

Allow me to address these questions one at a time.

1. I know.

2. I know.

3. Have you seen me?

4. I'm a man who knits lace shawls. Tell me more about this "wasting time."

I'm going to knit them because I wanna see what they're like. If they're terrible to wear, I want to know that for myself. I want to put myself into not the shoes, but the drawers, of a man of the 1890s who didn't have the luxury of going to Mister Fred's Sassy Swimwear and Video Salon on Halsted Street and picking up lycra shorts in a retro palm print. I expect to learn something–both about history and about garment construction–and if that's wasting time, well, that's how I most love to waste my time.

Will I regret it? Possibly. Especially since Melissa is insisting that she be allowed to photograph me modeling them for the knitters on the cruise.

So yeah, I may regret that; but you may regret it more.

We'll see.

Meanwhile, Mittens

The new Knitty is up (First Fall 2012) and for the first time, my "Stitches in Time" column features a new pattern instead of a translated antique or vintage pattern. It's for mittens, but the mittens do have one historical tie–the use of nineteenth century French embroidery charts to create the floral motifs on the hand and thumb gussets.

sajou-mittens-front-back

Because I am so very, very tired of winter gear with snowflakes on it. Florals in spring are a cliché. Florals in February, less so.

The yarn is Zitron Lifestyle from Skacel. I seem to have become slightly obsessed with it. I used it for these, for all the demonstration pieces in my "Heirloom Lace Edgings" Craftsy class, for this new design...

pleasant-morning-web-shot

The Pleasant Morning Baby Bonnet

...and for one more design that's coming out in an e-book about which I shall yell and scream when the appropriate time comes.





69 comments:

Connie said...

franklin,

it#s good you are back, I missed you!
And it's good you will knit these swimming trousers, will be funny!

Anonymous said...

What's that show tune line? Fortune favors the bold!

Well, we certainly hope so.

FoFo said...

I'm actually interested in seeing how they turn out. Will be keeping watch.

Moondancer5 said...

Oh, this will be fun! I crocheted a bathing suit for myself many years ago, but only wore it sunning.

Afterward would you also please knit a pair for Joe Manganiello and insist he send you a signed pic of himself emerging from a pool...

Moondancer5 said...

And then please share.

Liz said...

"Godspeed, you crazy bastard!"

Sharon P said...

I second that Moondancer5 - and third and forth it too!

I am glad they cannot discourage you from kitting bathing drawers. Franklin - they are a must now!

Roxie said...

I am looking forward to these drawers with great anticipation. I will put a shrimp on my tongue and wait with baited breath.

Good on you, Franklin!

Love the mitties.

Sally said...

Yay! Just line your gentleman's drawers with something from Mister Fred's and you'll be golden. Can't WAIT to see! Godspeed you!

stephen said...

I hope you'll keep us up-to-date on your progress with the swimwear, as well as the finished article.

Heather said...

I think your swimming drawers will look much better than those tiny speedo type suits that some men attempt to squeeze themselves into.

lollyknits.com said...

I am always in favor of anyone who wishes to add to the sum total of absurdity in the world, and I think that your knitted swimsuit idea definitely qualifies. Just remember to bring a backup swimsuit :P

Mindi said...

What yarn are you using?

FiberQat said...

Gracious! Those knickers are quite revealing. That Weldon was quite the racy designer. Will you be modeling these in your boater as well?

Anonymous said...

Godspeed!

Anonymous said...

There is one further problem Franklin, if you use wool, they take up lots of water, get very heavy and fall off!

Pics please.

ozelote said...

To use web lingo: This is relevant to my interests. I have been wanting to do this myself for quite sometime just to try it out but haven't found time for it. I will find it very interesting to know how your experience with woolly swimwear will be. Please do this and tell us everything! :)
I mean, there are quite a LOT of patterns for both men and women woolly swim wear from quite a wide period in time so obviously they made do some how. It can't have been too horrible(or at least manageble), even if it can't compare to today´s lycras.

wendy said...

I made my own knickers once (and I'm English, and I trust you are bi-lingual. I mean KNICKERS). It went horribly, horribly wrong. I'm only saying.
I trust you will be smoking a pipe and standing with your hands welded permanently and confidently to your hips while wearing your bathers?

Beth V. said...

Thumbs up & Godspeed, you Crazy Bastard!!

It's not at all a waste of time when you entertain us so!

Hat said...

Is there a gauge given for the mitts or am I just missing it?

Syd said...

Welcome back, you have been missed!

Really enjoying your Craftsy class, fun fun fun.

RubyC said...

I am sure Melissa will share photographs with the world. We shall bribe her if necessary. However I know you can do it and make it work. I love the mittens. And as always, love reading your blog and articles. Always look forward to your posts and words of wit and wisdom.

Franklin said...

Good grief, Hat, I dunno where they put the gauge. It should be 24 sts/32 rnds = 4 inches in plain, circular stockinette. I'll drop a note to Knitty and ask them to put it where it's supposed to be.

Martha0051 said...

How nice to hear from you again! Looking forward to both the results of the Great Gentleman's Bathing Drawers Extravaganza and the forthcoming book.

Becca said...

While it's not something I could do for myself (I'm a lady who requires swimsuits with a good deal of support and structure), I don't think it's all that crazy - especially given the advent of yarns like Cascade Fixation. Also, I imagine that knit swim trunks are like knit purses and that a lining will cover a multitude of sins. Shine on you knitting diamond!

hellmanmd said...

I'd think those bathing drawers would work better if you use a yarn with some elastic, like Cascade Fixation?

janet said...

Those drawers look as though they might ride a little high on the leg. I am also interested in what yarn you will choose. You definitely do not want anything with drape lest you display more anatomical detail than you desire. I, too, will be following this project with interest.

Anonymous said...

I'm still working my way through the men's knitted boxer shorts.

GoryDetails said...

Glad to see you back! And I'm still chortling over the swimwear - which, at first glance, I thought were chain-mail underwear {wry grin}. Looking forward to that photo!

Erin said...

I just want to say "bathing drawers" over and over again. A southern accent comes to mind.

jenann said...

Take care as you leave the water .....my granny knitted me a swim suit in the 50s and it tended to stretch and fill with water, becoming very revealing. Not so bad when you are six years old but..!

Erika said...

At the very least, those drawers will remind us all how lucky we are to live in an age of artificial fabrics. It's not something I say very often, but plastic clothes have their place, and the swimming pool is one of them.

In truth, I am less concerned about the sagging and itchiness than I am about those high-cut leg-holes.

Godspeed, you crazy bastard!

Anonymous said...

I made my husband three pairs of knitted underwear (specifically, tidy-whities, of my own design) and he loves them! He loves the feel of the sport-weight Egyptian cotton I used, and they have held up remarkably well. Better, in fact, than his Fruit of the Looms!

Is it anachronistic to knit your bathing drawers in lycra?

Unknown said...

God speed...it would be well worth the price of the cruise to see you modeling your 1890's swim briefs on a modern cruise ship.

Margaret Williams said...

Okay, now I kind of want to knit bathing drawers for a guy. Too bad that probably none of the ones I know would actually wear them... Good luck to you! (Or should it be break a leg?)

Deborah said...

Why am I suddenly reminded of this post of yours?
http://the-panopticon.blogspot.com/2005/11/and-sheep-goes-to.html

The Foggy Knitter said...

Those are surprisingly skimpy for the period, I am genuinely surprised, I didn't think in the Weldon's period they'd got much beyond sleeveless even for men. I think if I ever knit a bathing costume it will be a full on Victorian virtually covered from head to toe number, with skirts. I may need life guard assistance really fast.
Happy knitting!

The Foggy Knitter said...

P.S. Agree, you must, must have a boater to wear with it, handknitted is optional.

JoAnn said...

Mercy, it looks like it's completely open on the side, tied at the waist and buttoned on the hip! Perhaps this was intended for wearing in one of those Victorian brothels (did they have bathing pools?)

Karen said...

Glad to see you back. Actually checked out the cruise, but I think the school board would not approve me taking off for a knitting break in December.

=Tamar said...

I suspect that they are not intended as a bathing suit, but literally as bathing drawers, to be worn underneath a bathing suit. But hey, considering Speedos, etc. - Godspeed, you crazy bastard!

=Tamar said...

P.S. Hooray for winter gear without snowflakes!

JoAnn said...

Son of a gun, Tamar - I think you've got it! Underwear for the bathing suit makes sense, in context.

Anonymous said...

When I was in boarding school - more decades ago than we will discuss - a required item was 1 black wool bathing costume. It sagged and bagged and itched like crazy when submersed in sea water. May you have a more enjoyable experience.

Seanna Lea said...

Hey, if I knit a thong (twice) as a gag gift for bridal showers, then I think there is nothing wrong with knitting bathing drawers. You are going in eyes open, and worst comes to worst it is as hideous as people tend to say it is. At best, maybe you'll open up a new class of items to make (because the world obviously needs intarsia or cabled men's swim trunks).

Bri said...

While I assume you're going to go historically accurate with the yarn choice, having knit several (women's) suits myself, Cascade Fixation makes for very viable swimwear as it's a cotton/elastic blend and will stay on in the water. You know, in case you wanted to wear them more than once. ;)

Leigh Wheeler said...

Great Gentleman's Bathing Drawers Extravaganza! I love it!

How could it POSSIBLY be a waste of time when the potential for hilarity and entertainment is so vast?

Godspeed, you crazy bastard!

mrkite said...

If you knit these swimming trousers from Icelandic wool, then you'll have my full attention. Yes, Icelandic grandmas like to keep you nice and toasty.

Gwyn said...

Oh honey. Those drawers are really...something. When I read the headline, before the picture loaded, I thought you were going to make something like this: http://www.vintagepurls.co.nz/Downloads/ViyellaKnittingBk3BathingCostume.pdf

Because that would be amazing. And now I'M going to have to make one.

Anonymous said...

That's one scary design.

You do realise you'll HAVE to model them for us all. We wait with bated breath.

Helle said...

... with buttons and bows! I'm in awe!

Deb said...

New idea: Can we do this as a KAL? Please?

Nrthwoods Knitter said...

I really love your new mitten pattern. I will be making those in the not too distant future. Thanks much!

Pretty Knitty said...

Love the mittens, and I am intrigued by the drawers. I have not been intrigued by a pair of men's drawers in some time...I will watch with anticipation. ;p You crack me up, Franklin!

Sharen said...

Go for it, perhaps knit with some yarn with elastic properties, such as Cascade Fixation or use a synthetic brief as a liner :-)

lincannon said...

Someone actually pinned a man's knitted suit from like the 30's or 40's, with a cute caption about his wife was a knitter. It was in one of the books from that time.
I actually got to wear a suit from the 1900's. The only thing was it had a tendency to stretch, and when it started to dry it itched, but it was fun to wear. I wish I had been allowed to own it but the owner wanted to keep it, this was in the 60's, and I loved old things like that. The other thing was it really needed some kind of lining. So for men's briefs there is that suggestion.

Maureen said...

My mother used to knit swimming trunks for my father in the 30's and 40's; her pattern was more like a pair of shorts, and had belt loops to incorporate a belt of some sort, to hold the trunks up.
Otherwise they might fall down when they get wet.

SarahSeattle said...

Blue Moon Fibers makes a very nice cotton/elastane yarn 10ply cabled 5x2. It holds it shape when wet. I have been making socks with it for those with true wool allergies. I use size 2.25mm needles.

Anonymous said...

I think your swimming drawers will look much better than those tiny speedo type suits that some men attempt to squeeze themselves into.


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Anonymous said...

I think when they say bathing drawers, they mean to take a bath in - bathing at that time was done in the middle of a room many times in a tin type of "tub" and by wearing bathing drawers you could protect those around you from too much detail but still take a bath. It will be quite interesting to see if they work for swimming.

Backyard Notes said...

Will you also be packing a top hat, so as to emulate these members of the Brighton Swimming Club?
(I hope that link works.)
Your fans are looking forward to the photos!

Anonymous said...

A hirsute little dude in handknit swimming drawers. Could be kinda cute. I don't know.

"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time..."

jake

Mad Tatter said...

Oh my gosh, that link is awesome! I love the pic of the...um....full-figured?...gentleman in Jersey from 1893. I think his bathing drawers are almost the same size as the ones from Weldons (though a trifle less high-cut on the leg). And Franklin - bless you for being willing to try making those drawers! I can't wait to see the pictures!

suzynjgonzalez.com said...

My great-grandmother required her six children to swim in Lake Huron before breakfast. Their swim suits were wool, and they would not have dried overnight. So they were not only itchy, but soggy.

Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Years ago I saw the film "The Hairdresser's Husband." It popped to mind immediately when I read your post as the poor boy had to wear a hand-knit suit with pom-pons no less! I'm not expressing an opinion about your hand-knit suit, just what the boy said about his. Good luck!

stash haus said...

I second what Liz said.

And I had the same thought as =Tamar. I assumed these were for wearing under the wool swimsuit that covered the man from neck to knee. Or could they be used when one was actually taking a bath to preserve modesty?

Anne said...

Well, if you decide they don't work as swimwear, you can sleep in them ... maybe.

Anonymous said...

godspeed, you crazy bastard. You are a better man than I, Gunga Din.

-thegeorg

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