Boleros and ponchos

Bolero –
1. A very short jacket, usually open in the front.
2. A Spanish dance in triple meter
3. The music for this dance.
The little bolero from yesterday is finished, and I was right, my life does actually feel more complete and rich, even though this pattern departs from the usual “open in the front” bolero rules. What the hell, I mean…once you’ve lawlessly stopped in the middle of a row, rules are nothing to you. Nothing.
Laura asked for the pattern source (she also asked what a Bolero was..but I already answered her), and I’m destined to disappoint. Not only is the pattern from a weird little Patons book from the 50’s, I changed it. The original was done in a two stitch basket weave, so I changed it to a ribbed slip stitch, from 365 Knitting Stitches A Year (Which I love, even though the considerable errata is here) and I made the cross over front slope a little less slopey. The main issue was the basket weave. I hate basketweave stitch, I hate it enough that I have never really even tried to get over it. I know I’m being unfair, I’m ok with that. I believe that basketweave stitch, and all of its incarnations are “puffy” and that this puffiness, when used in a garment that goes anywhere near a person who is not a truly unhealthy kind of skinny will transfer it’s qualities of puffiness to said wearer, thus making them look puffy.
I won’t even stand near somebody wearing basketweave.
New business:
I have, in the last 12 hours developed an obsession with ponchos. I have looked at ponches before and almost knit Steph’s pretty clever ponchoification of Charlotte. I decided against it. (I have reservations about Charlotte. We’ll talk about that another time).
In the end, I wondered why I’d want to make a poncho at all. Big, easy, shapeless…not usually what I’m into at all. Then, I saw Aven’s poncho here, and something snapped. I am obsessed. I can’t explain it. I have spent several hours over the last 12 cruising poncho’s on the blogs, looking at patterns, folding up napkins in attempts to design a poncho, ripping yarn out of the stash to see if it’s poncho material….I can’t explain myself.
Why do I care?
Then I was talking with my mom. I mentioned the poncho obsession, and she said “Christ. Not this again.” Turns out that that when I was 7 I wanted a poncho very, very badly. I begged, I pleaded, I folded tablecloths into artful and wearable poncho shapes and I was denied. My mother thought that ponchos are stupid, so now, it turns out that once again ….I’m scarred for life.
I’m going to have to knit a dumb poncho. (Now that I think about it, this could explain the odd attraction I have to fringe too…)

33 thoughts on “Boleros and ponchos

  1. Hey Steph! A few things….. First of all, I was looking forward to knitting the basketweave sweater for my hubby in the new IK that just came out. Now I’ll have to think twice. Second, HOLY CRAP! I didn’t know there was an errata for the calendar. I love that calendar. Thanks for the link. Third, ponchos rock. I love them. I’ve knit two for my oldest girls, and plan to knit a third for my youngest here in the next couple of months. My own is a huge, 10 skein jobber out of Vogue’s Quick Knits book. (With fringe, btw). I love it! Doesn’t everyone have days they’d like to stay home wrapped in a blanket? I do. That poncho is JUST the thing when you have to go out anyway. It’s also great for days I’m feeling fat. No one can see the waistline through THAT! If you want, I’ll email you a picture.

  2. I’ve been noticing this trend towards ponchos lately too . . . hadn’t thought about them since I was about 7 or 8 (late seventies). I had one that I loved, a gift from a neighbour, it had a hood and a fringe and it was bright red! I remember my mother not being fond of it because she never let me wear red (thought it looked terrible on me). It is only recently that I have bought a couple of red things for myself – must be careful what I say to my kids . . . maybe I’ll make a nice red poncho for my 7 yr old daughter!
    On another completely different note – thank you so much for writing a sock pattern (tulip one) that has inspired me to knit socks for everyone I know! This is my first time knitting a sock, and the pattern I started with had the stitches spread over 4 needles – ucck. My MIL thought that was totally unnecessary, so I went looking and found your pattern at Knitty. I did the heel last night and kept trying to convince my husband that this was the nicest, neatest, most amazing thing I had ever knitted – he tried to look interested, but you know!
    Absolutely adore your journal, thanks for writing!

  3. Uh, Steph, have I missed something in the past few days? Where are the Dublin Bay socks? Have you left them somewhere in your gallivanting? I was living vicariously through those socks and, damn it, I miss them!

  4. steph-
    well if you’ve seen the ponchofication, then why don’t you make one from your snowdrop? it would be beautiful.

  5. Your comments about the stopping in the middle rule are hilarious. I’d never heard that rule either and can’t understand its use. TIME this week called the loose-knit poncho the must have accessory of the season. Since I’ll be heading out to LA soon to visit my boyfriend’s friends and family, I decided I must make one (what can I say? gorgeous LA people scare me into conformity). I used Amy Singer’s basic poncho pattern (on her blog). Instead of the ribbing at the top, I picked up 1-for-1 and then decreased where I’d been increasing (the neck was really huge before). I think that without the ribbing it looks really cute worn off-center. (I used 2 strands of Stacy Charles Aruba held together. I bought 10 for $10 at WEBS during their anniversary sale).

  6. Yes, that poncho bug is bitting everyone. Expect to see dozens of ponchos this winter! Wore one on my honeymoon in 1971 (different dh). They were very big then. I’m too young to be retroed!!
    Spill the beans about Charlotte…please!

  7. OMG! The poncho thing has got me too! I keep thinking, “okay, you are not a small woman. A. it would take 1,000,000 yards of yarn to make you a poncho. B. You would look hideous! C. You live in a relatively cold climate and when would you wear the darn thing? D. The kids would hate it (I know, this IS reason enough to do it alone, but cripes I have four of ’em and then din would be horrid…). Still, I am drawn to ponchos like there is no other outerwear possible. After you posted about your mom, I realized, oh my god, me too! My mom thought ponchos were for hippies, and by god I was NOT gonna dress like a hippy, thank you very much. That was, hm, circa 1973 (3rd grade). Thanks Steph, now I have another reason to knit a doggone poncho, my mom wouldn’t let me have one in third grade! ;-D Lisa in Oregon

  8. “I won’t even stand near somebody wearing basketweave.”
    O, dude, that’s harsh…
    So if I ever have that mystery Sugar Daddykins pop into my life and finance a trip to your sewing group, I’m going to have to put away my lovely variegated blue (Plymouth’s Wildflower yarn) scarf knit in the basketweave?
    What if I bring a small fire extinguisher? What if I promise not to bring cherries? What if I bring my vintage 1971 green wool poncho to offset the basketweave scarf?

  9. Thanks a lot. I loath ponchos. Hated ’em then, hate ’em now. At least, that’s what I thought until I followed your link over to the ponchified Charlotte. Oh-mi-Gawd, that’s gorgeous. Damn you, now I want one.
    But, there’s problem: I’m a slow knitter & I can’t bear the thought of putting all this time into this thing that will be out of style two days after I bind off. Aaugh, the agony.
    I repeat: Damn you.

  10. OMG, me too! I’ve never liked ponchos (sound just like everyone else here), but lately, I’ve been wanting to make two of them…if i can only suss out a pattern, then i’ll add them to my to do list…but please do yours…and then maybe I’ll be inspired to bump them up a bit.
    PS, where are the socks? they’re gonna be mad…

  11. The interesting thing about the poncho is that even when you do EVERYTHING wrong, they still work – I’m a big girl, but did I choose a light, supple yarn? NO. I chose Big Wool. It was the first non-scarf thing I’d knit since high school, what did I know?
    Half way through the front, I was Very, Very worried about the bulk making quality of the yarn, but perservered, because, well, I’d bought a lot of it and it wasn’t cheap.
    Plus, I loved it.
    I finished it at the end of the winter and only got to wear it a few times before spring.
    It is the best. I made it longer (I’m 6 foot 3), but kept it narrow at the shoulder, and closed the front neckline so I’m not, um, busting out all over, and it ripples around me as I walk, it is cozy without being smothering, as warm and friendly as a hug, and even the sternest critics have conceded that it is, somehow, flattering.
    The only problem now is to not make 6 different styles.

  12. I’m afraid I was about to say that ponchos ARE stupid and in a year or two everyone will look at their stacks of 2004 ponchos and ask, “What was I thinking?!?” Then I read your mother’s comment and realized she’s about as sympathetic as my own mother, and damn it, you should have as many ponchos as your little heart desires. Go on, indulge. You’ll look great in a poncho, and it’s not as if you’re taking up smoking crack.
    (My mother is arriving tonight for a short visit, which may be affecting my judgement on this issue … )

  13. I’ve caught the poncho bug too, seems to be going around these days. I adored mine as a kid, but now live in fear of one making me look old and dumpy.

  14. I made a poncho for my daughter when she was six and towards the end of the craze (1977). Didn’t matter, because she outgrew it before it was totally pass�. I think I deserve some recognition for not affecting her mental health, as other mothers have done. Well, about ponchos at least.

  15. First off, I will say that I am no fashionista and I like the poncho craze. I am thinking that there is a disconnect between the ponchos that everyone is remembering –
    and the ponchos that are popular now –
    Saks has a lace poncho that is very like Steph’s Charlotte Ponchoification.

  16. I had a poncho with blue and white stripes waaaaay back in the ’70s. My older sister had one with purple & white, another sister had red & white.
    However – the poncho started my hatred of acrylic knitwear. At least it wasn’t made of granny squares.
    So far I’ve managed to resist the urge do a poncho. But I’m very weak and have just hit made a little money on the lottery.

  17. It’s nice to know there are some people who appreciate, nay, desire ponchos. Those who were denied ponchos at the pinnacle of their popularity. Those people deserve the poncho of their choice.
    I, however, do not want to be within 1000 feet of one. My parents had the opposite problem to your mother. My parents were buying me ponchos well into the 1980s. Ponchos that I never wore. The fashion trauma of those ponchos has left a deep scar. Even if the poncho is cute, I have flashbacks of those hideously crocheted acrylic things – I have PTPSD (post-traumatic poncho stress disorder). I must lie down now…

  18. One of my first FO’s was a Kim Hargreaves poncho (Thunder), which was for my mother. I think she likes it… It’s strange how frequently you see ponchos; they’re all over the city. Still, I don’t expect there are any ponchos in my immediate future.

  19. Hmm. I feel harmonic fiber convergence. I’ve just learned how to make (that is, how to make on purpose) thick-thin slub yarn with a thin, second ply to add strength. (That’s from Patsy Z’s video on spinning textured yarns.) Last night, I dyed a whole pile of merino roving with Laurie (yes, that Laurie), and now have autumnal wool to spare–wool that in its variegated splendor cries out for the slub treatment.
    Next thing you know, the Harlot makes me want a poncho (I did have one when I was 7; my mom’s only clothing interdiction was anything that was “too old,” and I guess ponchoes weren’t). And then Cassandra posts about how well her poncho works on her tall frame, and I, another Big Girl, feel my last poncho barrier crumble away.
    I Want One. The only question now is, will it make me look “too young”?

  20. I go away for a few days and see what happens. Ponchos, Gawd help us. Granted, I graduated college in 1872, but even then they struck me as drafty (and I’m only Michigan, not Toronto.) But yes, you may have whatever your glorious harlotta heart desires. Still, am I the only one noticing a pattern? First the mango Age of Aquarius vest, now a poncho. Can a forehead-band be far behind? Hiphugger bellbottoms? It’s this damned war…

  21. LOL at the idea of knit bellbottoms! (Wearable only by the fashionista tween with no hip fat, no doubt.)
    I think I’m veering toward old-lady-hood early, in that I’d rather have a shawl than a poncho. But then I was a child in the ’70s, wore striped, corderoy bell-bottoms, and had a few scary encounters with garishly colored acrylic afghans (which is what I tend to think of when I hear the word “poncho”).
    Hmm… maybe we need a new name to describe a fab circular shawl knit in lovely lacey wool and sparkly ribbon? _That_ I could imagine wearing.

  22. Sorry! I didn’t mean to drive you to obsession… I was merely an innocent victim of yarn lust, mysef. I was sure I didn’t want a poncho… but now I’m in love. I’m cursing the hot weather because I can’t wear the poncho…
    Btw, I did buy the kit at Lettuce Knit, so you could always just drop by there… not that the pattern was complicated, but I seem to remember you mentioning a certain affection for the store?
    Or, if you design one yourself, I can’t wait to see it!

  23. Poncho, huh?
    OK. If you have to.
    At least I know you can crank one out quick-as-a-bunny before they utterly and completely go out of style again. A minute from now.

  24. Oh, but today’s ponchos are so much more drapey and elegant than those of our (or I should speak for my own old self, I guess) MY childhood. I say go for it.

  25. I’ve been fighting the poncho thing for about a year. “For pete’s sake,” I tell myself, “you’re 43 years old and look at all that fringe, WHAT are you thinking?” or “your husband and children will burst out laughing just like they did when you showed them the pattern” or “it’s too late — you already have 25 wips and by the time you get anything done ponchos will be out of style.”
    Yeah, well, all that good advice worked for a couple of weeks. Now there are two ponchos in the stash. (Rowan’s “Cruise” — technically a hybrid sweater/poncho, and the Ann Norling “Top Down Cape” — which really isn’t a cape at all, but a poncho.) I’m going to finish both of them and wear them within the next 12 months and the menfolk will see them and admire me in them whether they like it or not, and that is that.
    So yeah, go for the poncho. Go for more than one. Think of it this way. A poncho is a great cover up for the mango tank…

  26. Ponchos. I hate ponchos. the only thing that would fit over my hugely pregnant belly in 1980 and 1983 was an ugly woven wanna be Mexican poncho. I looked like a Mexican pumpkin walking down the road. And what did I just finish doing? Knitting the “Barcelona” from Simply Knit for a friend (changed the colour and the collar and the front and few other things) I called it “the black hole” since it sucked up so much yarn. and what am I doing now??? Designing two different ponchos. I can’t blame this on my mother, she let me where whatever I wanted as long as 1. it didn’t show too much of the rack (I woke up at 11 with a C chest) and 2. you couldn’t see what I’d had for breakfast (a phrase from the mini skirt days)
    And to those who think they are too old to wear one….here’s what I do. Look anyway who comments negatively and say “I’m 40 (or 50 or whatever) if I don’t wear one now, when can I?” this leaves them nodding their heads up and down and agreeing with you. It also works if you DON’T want to wear it….”I’m 40, I’m too old to do that” useful in many many situations. (I used it when I took up belly dancing, went flying in a bi-plane and plan on using it when I go on that hot air balloon ride)
    I was right Stephanie, it is the same bolero. I changed the stitch too. Basket stitch in real life does not look like they try to trick you into thinking it will look like.
    Barb B.

  27. LOL — My poncho is the 70s WAS made of granny squares!!! I have been resisting the current poncho craze since I hate having to take things off over my head, and if they button instead you’ve got a cape, and I just could NOT wear a cape. But I gotta say — Sheesh, what’s the big deal about what a 7-year-old wants to wear??? I mean, it’s not like you were trying to imitate Cristina Aguilera, right? I could understand a mom putting her foot down about belly button rings and bustiers, but a poncho??

  28. hi! (golly gee – is it really my first post? i’ve been reading your blog for a while! blame it on sharon ( for bring everyone out of lurk mode!)
    i love the ponchos! i started one, but due to a) warm weather and wool not mixing and b) wedding/baby stuff to knit, it has fallen to the bottom of the to do list. i’m sure i’ll start it again when it gets cold, but i don’t know if i will finish before spring! yikes! ;o) i love the charlotte version too, but considering how far my regular charlotte has gotten (its only a step above the poncho, although i should try to finish before winter!) – fuhgeddaboutit.
    when it comes to knitting, my eyes are bigger than my stomach (er, my eyes are bigger than my spare time??) and i keep starting new things and not finishing the old….
    btw – great work on the bolero and everything else you have made!

  29. I thought, what’s with the poncho craze?, till recently when I saw a particular one. Bulky, scratchy turquoise 70’s acrylic it wasn’t. But…
    I decided I still prefer the more classic shaping of a semicircular shawl, kind of faroese style. My Strawberry Pie shawl on my site is one example; right now I’m working on another more along the Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi model, increases-wise. What really clinched my decision, though, to go off in the direction of playing with the semicircular idea again rather than a poncho was the fact that when my DH saw me wearing my Pie shawl the first time, he exclaimed “Oh, that’s BEAUTIFUL!” This is a Silicon Valley nerd, who, much though I adore him, I didn’t know he knew that a piece of clothing could BE beautiful. He has never quite understood how one could get worked up about something (ie my knitting) you can’t program or push the buttons on. He liked it! Hey Mikey!
    So I’m serving up a second helping as fast as I can, in baby alpaca.
    But maybe I’ll still go try a poncho afterwards. That one I saw was really nice. And I can’t wait to see yours finished!

  30. How do I see a picture of your strawberry pie shawl? Thanks@ Heard great things about it. Miriam

  31. get more ponchos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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