Hidden Treasures

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Isn’t it wonderful how that old wheel of fashion just keeps on spinning? Jackets and sweaters once so right become wrong, and then if we wait long enough, they become right again. I love that. Mostly because I tend NOT to get rid of my clothes if they are good quality, still fit, and still suit my body and my lifestyle. In the past two or three years I have unearthed several hidden treasures from my storage cupboard. A couple of Max Mara jackets, a pant suit, a camel Adrienne Vittadini blazer, and even two very old cashmere sweaters from the nineties. My oldest treasure is the Alfred Sung houndstooth jacket from which I had the ginormous eighties shoulder pads removed last year.

But treasure hunting this time did not involve sorting through coats and jackets hung neatly in garment bags in the closet. This time I was digging through my old trunk, which is a treasure in itself. I dug it out of the barnyard back home in the seventies, cleaned it up, painted it, and I’ve been lugging it around the country ever since. Now I use my trunk to store my skiing, cycling, and camping clothes. I was hunting for my old running jacket, the one I usually take camping. Instead I unearthed all kinds of things I had forgotten about. And memories spilled out all over the place. Some good ones, and others a bit cringe-worthy.

Wearing a purple hand-knit sweater and Rag and Bone burgundy plaid Simone pants. On my deck on a grey and cloudy day.
It’s a grey day, and I have my head in the clouds

I pulled out a hand-made rag doll that my uncle Aden gave me when I was eleven years old. He had drilled a well for a lady in the country who made dolls, and she subsequently made dolls for each of his nieces. I’ve always treasured mine. I wonder if my cousins still have theirs. And then I found a small bag pushed into a corner of the trunk containing a stash of memorabilia from my university days, from my time as an officer-cadet in the Canadian Armed Forces. Ha. A thankfully very brief “career,” in which I did NOT distinguish myself.

Some of my hidden treasures found in my trunk.
Memories of childhood, and one very wrong career move.

Then I pulled out these. Two sweaters I knit myself many, many moons ago. The cream one is from a sweater kit I ordered from Chatelaine magazine in 1983. I still remember the excitement of receiving that package. I was living at home in New Brunswick for a year, back with my mum and step-father, and I’d been knitting up a storm for months.

That week, I’d been sick in bed for days with a dreadful cold. Oh, the luxury of being sick at home, with Mum’s homemade soup and her homemade bread on a tray for lunch. Sigh. At twenty-seven it had been many years since I’d been sick in bed with my mum to wait on me, and I was kind of enjoying it. I remember Mum and Lloyd came home from grocery shopping that day around noon. From my room upstairs, I heard the squeak of the floorboards in the old shed, the bang of the screen door, and then the rumble of my step-father’s deep, gravelly voice. Why does the sound of our parents’ inaudible conversation downstairs when we are upstairs tucked into bed make us feel so safe, I wonder.

Then I heard Mum’s tread on the stairs. She laid my package from Chatelaine on the bed, and we opened it. It contained the instructions, the yarn, and everything I needed to make my sweater. I lay there happily casting stitches onto my needles, and knitting the first few rows, until supper.

The sweater is much too small for me now. But I hang onto it. Perhaps in memory of that year I fled home to New Brunswick. The year my friend Debbie calls my sabbatical from life. How lucky I was to be able to do that, no questions asked. Just head for home, get some perspective on my life, and what I wanted to do with it. And then, after a few months, as my step-father said, “take another run at it.” At adult life, and a new career.

Two hand-knit sweaters that were hidden treasures for me. Found languishing in my old trunk.
Two sweaters telling tales.

The second sweater I found in my trunk is a purple wool pull-over. I began knitting this sweater the winter Ottawa teachers were on strike in the early nineties. I knit furiously for a few weeks, and then set it aside in the onslaught of work that followed the strike. My teaching contract had been expanded, and I was now full-time, teaching new courses, sitting on what felt like sixteen committees, and running the school newspaper. Who had time to knit?

I picked up the partly-finished sweater at odd times over the years. Scanning the pattern all over again, counting rows to try to remember where in the pattern I’d left off, then promising myself that I would finish the darned thing. Only to set it aside again after a few evenings’ work. Finally, years later, I did finish it. Before I could sew it together, I had to wash the earliest pieces because they were dusty. Seriously. Then I packed it away because it was well out of style, reeking of oversized, early-nineties trends when shrunken jackets and minimalism were now all the rage.

And there it stayed. In my trunk. Forgotten. Until the day before we went away camping. Amazed, I pulled it out of the bag where it was stored. What the heck? Wow. What a find. Hidden treasure indeed.

It’s a beautiful sweater, actually, with a lovely pattern. Just the colour I need to go with my new hair. And it’s wonderfully oversized in a year when big and baggy are the thing. That old spinning fashion wheel has spun full circle again.

I first tried my “new” sweater with my Rag and Bone burgundy plaid, cropped pants. The colours work really well together. But yesterday I was more inclined to favour the sweater with my Massimo Dutti khaki skinny jeans, and my new Everlane long-sleeved tee. Somehow this outfit was less matchy-matchy, more casual, and a bit more edgy. Massimo Dutti doesn’t seem to make these coloured jeans anymore. But I found three good alternatives here, here, and here. Although not all in khaki green.

My purple hand-knit sweater, worn with Everlane tee and Massimo Dutti jeans.
I love this green and purple combination.

I’m really enjoying my new Everlane tee. It’s exactly the right length for me, and is baggy enough to casually hide the middle-age middle without looking as if it’s trying to do so.

Everlane tee, Massimo Dutti jeans, Paul Green loafers, and my hidden treasure sweater on the bench beside me.
Everlane tee, Massimmo Dutti jeans, Paul Green loafers, sweater by me.

I had lots of fun taking pictures in my old-new sweater yesterday. First time I’d done my hair and worn make-up since before we went away camping. I notice that I seem to have become totally converted to the socks with loafers look. So much easier when the cool weather makes bare ankles a pain (literally) and one is still not ready to don one’s ankle boots just yet. Not when one knows that one will be wearing them for months and months once the snow comes. As you can see, I am still loving my Paul Green loafers which are a couple of years old now. I packed them for our trip to Croatia last year and they were really comfortable for walking. Must be the thick rubber soles. You can find a similar pair in black here and here.

My purple hand-knit sweater, worn with Everlane tee and Massimo Dutti jeans, and Paul Green loafers.
Is that darned goose going to dive bomb me?

So, I’m pleased with the spoils of my treasure hunt. Not that I was hunting for treasures, exactly. Which I guess makes finding them all the more exciting. I’m a great one for treasures, hidden or otherwise. Especially old things that have sentimental value for me, or a provenance with a story attached. I’ve written about my old treasures before on the blog, about where and when I acquired them, and the stories they hold. You can read that post here if you’re interested.

After I finished my photo-taking yesterday, I dashed off for my walk. The day had been cloudy, and threatened rain. But by late afternoon the sun came out and I wanted to take advantage of that. I love fall. Especially crisp sunny days.

Still, there’s something to be said for moody skies, and dramatic looking pumpkin patches too. Don’t you think?

On my walk, moody fall skies, and a haunted-looking pumpkin patch.

It appears that I’m not the only one finding treasures they’d forgotten about. My friend Frances recently blogged about a beautiful sweater she hand-knit last year, and serendipitously unearthed this past week. You can read her post here. Amazing isn’t it, how we find joy in these small things? A new-ish sweater, a perfect pumpkin patch. But since winter is coming, and with it the uptick of Covid cases, at least here in Ontario, we must take our pleasures where we find them. Sometimes literally.

And speaking of unearthing, Hubby and I are enjoying the first home-grown potatoes we’ve had in years. And flushed with his potato-growing success, he’s planning a much bigger potato patch next year.

Uh oh.

How about you my friends? Any hidden treasures you’ve unearthed lately? Literally or metaphorically.

P.S. The clothing links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link I will earn a commission.

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42 thoughts on “Hidden Treasures”

  1. When I see your gorgeous hand knit sweater, I wish I kept the only one I made. It was a loose fit brown turtleneck. When I finished it I bought additional blue wool but I never started another project. I still have the wool and love it. I’m thinking, I’ll hire someone to finish the task. 😉

  2. Thank you for your vivid description of being sick and waited on by mom. Those setbacks are just part of the zigzag of life and lessons that make us better people.
    My kid has been watching a sitcom from the 1990s and I can’t get over how many of the outfits still look fresh. What goes around comes around, maybe in need of a little tailoring, but still…

  3. That purple sweater is gorgeous and it looks wonderful with khaki. And wonderful with your hair. I can knit but shaping garments is beyond me so I stick to rectangular things 🙂
    Sadly no hidden treasures here. I have too much stuff but with no attic or basement, there aren’t any out-of-the-way hiding places. And I always wear socks with brogues.

    1. I am always so stressed when it comes time to sew pieces together. That’s why I prefer to knit in the round on circular needles. I can’t mess that up as easily.

  4. Beverley in Canada

    A lovely post: an ode to home comforts, hidden treasures, and the joy of perseverance in both life and knitting.

    I knit a few of those Chatelaine kits back in the day. They were a crafting lifeline! Your purple Gansey looks very current, and carries more meaning than anything you could buy in a boutique.
    I still knit all the time. (I’m MsGidgetty on Ravelry) It’s a good way to feel productive while on a Netflix binge. 😉

    1. What a great sweater, Sue, and no surprise that you’ve styled it so well! Not your 80s Big Sweater and Stirrup Pants, but a 2020 iteration.
      And yes, like Beverley I knit a few Chatelaine kits back in the day, when fashionable, well-stocked LYS (local yarn stores) were few and far between.
      Thanks for the mention…not wearing my sweater now as it’s low 20s and sunny in the BC Okanagan wine country we’re visiting, but temperature will drop and rain begin to fall as we drive back to the Coast today

  5. Love reading your posts over morning coffee, Sue! I’m very impressed with your knitting skills, and it’s delightful reading your reminiscences. Sweaters in trunks are like opening a treasure chest, aren’t they? I feel a whole blog post about that coming on now….

  6. Wow! What a find! I have a trunk full of memories that sounds a lot like yours. I do know that there’s one hand knit sweater in there, a gift from a Norwegian exchange student who lived with us in the late 80s. It was knit by his grandmother. Perhaps I should dig it out! Who knows what else I might find!

  7. Lordy, when I saw the trunk and the Airborne t-shirt (after your brief mention an unwise career stint in the Canadian Armed Forces), I almost spit out my tea–from laughing. Can only imagine that tale. 🙂

    Love your knitted sweaters of yore–which reminded me of a lovely, blue shawl-collared cardigan I made myself about 10 years ago. Went in search of it (in a tucked away bin) and it is now back in circulation. Thanks!

    1. Glad I got a reaction. I wasn’t actually a member of the Airborne… but my sister’s boyfriend was. I was in the land forces… and then not for long. Ha. So glad you dug out that cardigan.

  8. I love your purple sweater and the way you styled it with khaki pants and tee. Everlane tees are the best!
    How I wish I’d kept the sweater I made in university! You’ve inspired me; I may just finish the afghan I’m currently knitting and then start a sweater.

  9. I love to knit, but most sweaters are too warm for me these days, so I stick to socks and other accessories. You look to be an accomplished knitter, maybe you should take it up again? I listen to books on Audible whilst I’m knitting, male me feel super productive, haha.
    The purple sweater and khaki pants look really good together.

  10. I love purple (must be that Donny Osmond influence!) Anyway you look awesome in your purple sweater with the khaki pants. And your hair is looking great too!! Wonderful treasures indeed. Love reading your blogs Sue!!

  11. Ditto to all the compliments about your beautiful, self-made sweater and the ways you put it together. Thank you for sharing your sweet memories, too. Hidden treasures, indeed!

  12. Oddly enough, I was thinking about the beautiful sling-backs I wore when I got married – silver satin – only this morning and how I might dig them out and see how they fit. Still in the box marked Aug 89, from when they were sent off to be dyed to match my silver silk wedding fabric. And, the year at home. I did the same when I was 25, feeling my life was going nowhere. Very comforting and gave me space to think properly. Never too old. Enjoy your very cosy sweater.

  13. I’d have that lovely rag doll on show like my childhood teddy used to be until one of my dogs ripped it to shreds ! Both the purple & cream woolies are lovely . You’ve reminded me of all the big chunky woolies I’ve let go . Drat !

  14. You are a knitter of beautiful sweaters? You were in the Canadian Air Force? This post is full of surprises. I think the sweater looks great with the plaid pants. As always, very much enjoy your blog because it is so interesting, and well-written; and because we share many of the same tastes in clothes and books.

    1. I wasn’t in the Air Force, but in the army. The tee shirt was a gift from my sister’s boyfriend who a captain in the Air Force. He was the one who talked me into getting into the ROTP program. Gave me the tee shirt when I was accepted and told me not to “whimp out”… which of course I did do. Ha.

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