Published: 18 August 2017

Lumber coat knitted in 1962

Lumber coat knitted in 1962 Lumber coat knitted in 1962 My mother knitted many garments for her family and I still have some of them. Today I donated to Shetland Museum a fair isle lumber coat which she knitted for me in 1962. (Generally a lumber coat buttons to the neck and a cardigan has a V neck.) This one is not in the best condition but what is unusual is that there is a record of it in my mother's diary, and there is a black and white photo of me wearing it for the first time at my cousin's wedding.

Excerpts from her diary are below (to kemp is to work hard to get something finished; fronts are button and buttonhole bands, loop is the Shetland word for a stitch and geng is a row or rows):

16 February 1962: “laid up Hazel’s FI. Royal ground.”

7 March 1962: “got Hazel’s FI to neck”.

10 March 1962: “Getting fronts on to Hazel’s lumber”

12 March 1962: “I began sleeve of Hazel’s FI”

15 March 1962: “Kemping on Hazel’s sleeves”

There is no more mention of the lumber coat in the diary but it was washed and dressed, and the buttons added, ready to be worn at the wedding of my cousin Joyce Anderson, to Allen Mutch on Tuesday 20 March 1962.

In a notes section of the diary she made the following record: "On Hazel's FI blue lumber coat I've laid up 9 score on ribs and on FI I have 11 score and 9 loops. 20 slipped underarm. About 55 geng in sides. 86 loops on neck ribs. 130 loops up each front. 50 loops on cuffs. Single rib 44 geng 1 & 1. Sleeve - laid on to 72 (36 each side at beginning of fair isle. Increased 2 each end every 4th row till had 48 each side. 28" chest."

Before I passed on to a safe haven, I washed and 'boarded' it, and took photos. Only now that it's gone I've realised that the only front view one I have is on a jumper board.

The cardigan was steeked - though my mother would have referred to it as 'extra loops' - at the centre front, armholes and sleeve tops. The neck was not steeked; often my mother just kept on knitting till she got to the shoulders which are not shaped (normal practice in Shetland). Once the shoulders had been joined, the front neck was shaped by eye, picking up stitches and knitting the rib - the back neck was not shaped. The surplus piece of knitting was cut away, leaving a narrow selvedge to secure to the wrong side. The sleeve was knitted from the cuff up and the tops were shaped; some stiitches were put on hold to graft to those on the body, a steek was cast on then decreases made, leaving some live stitches to graft to the body at the shoulder top.

A few years ago I replicated the cardigan colours and pattern but shaped the sides and made the neck and front edging more decorative - that will be covered in another blog.

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About Shetland


Shetland is the most northerly group of Scottish islands. Apart from mainland Scotland, the other near neighbours are Norway to the east and the Faroe Islands to the north west.