Monday, September 7, 2015

Knitted Bathing Suit

About a year ago, I started knitting a 1920s bathing suit. There have been ever so many summery 1920s events popping up, I was on a run of good knitting projects, and I was feeling crazy. Then I never actually got a chance to wear it, so I never was inspired to do the tedious finishing work of weaving in ends. But FINALLY, I have worn the suit. Into the ocean, no less. Check it out!

FINALLY! There it is... and yes, I had to find an orange parasol to go with it. Also be sure to check out my rolled stockings (subtle, but such a 1920s thing), silly sunglasses, and matching knitted diagonal stripe headband.
The pattern comes from a collection called "A Stitch in Time" by Susan Crawford, which is full of fun patterns that date to the early 20th century, with updated instructions and inspiring glossy pictures. In fact, I loved the look of this bathing suit in orange and cream so much in the book that I used the same color scheme myself.

For yarn, I used Patons Grace (I think the colors were fiesta and natural?). This is a 100% cotton yarn, as suggested by the pattern. It was gorgeous and easy to work with, but at some point I had a realization - cotton yarn usually gets sold so that people can make dishclothes. So fundamentally, I decided to wear a giant homemade dishcloth into the sea? Awesome plan. As soon as I hit the ocean, it absorbed a lot of water and got quite heavy. After wearing it for a little while it was definitely sagging. I was wearing a modern swimsuit underneath for support (in the final analysis the suit was a little too big on me, even dry, and I had decided against the arguably more historically accurate "floppy boob" look). This turned out to be lucky, or things could have gotten VERY racy. If you really bother to look up the pattern, you'll realize that it's worn backwards from the original knitting instructions (which were for a high fronted,v-backed, technically 1930s suit), but like the author/photographer/someone for the modern pattern book I agreed that it looked better with the v in the front. And since I was wearing it for 20s instead of 30s anyway, the low-back look wasn't the look I was going for. But yes - I couldn't have pulled this off without some kind of foundation to prevent wardrobe malfunctions.

With that all said, it totally worked. You can wear a hand-knit cotton bathing suit into the water. I even did a pretty great job floating in the super-salty water (I can't actually swim...). It's a weird experience, and it takes FOREVER to dry when you're done (think days, not hours), but it works. I wonder how the experience would differ if I'd used wool yarn? But that's a project for another day.