Stranger in the Alps

Materials: 5 skeins Valley Yarns Northampton in Natural, 1 skein in Brown Heather, and 1 skein in Charcoal; sizes 4 and 5 needles. Pattern: The Knitter’s Dude.

Time: Two months, or both seasons of Narcos.

Cost: $40, yarn + pattern.

First, a story: back in grad school, I spent a few years working for one of my advisers.   A notoriously conservative figure within our generally liberal department, he never came to campus dressed in anything less than a three-piece-suit, though I can confirm that, when working in his office, he would hang up the jacket and roll up his shirtsleeves.

And, just before I started working for him, he had discovered The Big Lebowski. “It’s brilliant!” he would chuckle to me. “It’s just like a Raymond Chandler novel!” And, to signal the start of office hours, he would flip the cardboard sign hanging from his doorknob that he’d fashioned out of two bumper stickers from THE DUDE IS NOT IN to THE DUDE ABIDES.

So let us segue awkwardly to the Lebowski Sweater, something I’d initially categorized as a novelty but which has proven to be a surprisingly wearable garment.

Firstly, I want to point out that the designer is clear that this is not a precise replica of the Pendleton original, which is (inexplicably) done in a 1×1 rib which honestly seems like it’d be a PITA to gauge and knit. This is a more wearable Lebowski sweater, with different construction and closures. The body of mine is knit in a cream color which I’d like to think was originally the same shade as the Dude’s, before it absorbed decades worth of nicotine from the air of smoky LA bowling alleys.

More details about the knitting are up on its Ravelry project page, but this was my first time knitting something with a steek. Steeking is a technique ostensibly used to make knitting colorwork items more efficient but really designed to test knitters’ mettle, since it means knitting your object in the round in a tube and then cutting it open.  (Really hardcore advocates of traditional “sticky” wools claim that the loose ends will instantly felt themselves together, but a couple of lines of machine stitching does a surprisingly good job of keeping the carnage from spreading.)

It’s a really fun sweater! And not quite the same as wearing a pair of Zubaz to Costco. (Thought: are brightly-printed LuLa Roe-style leggings the Zubaz of the 2010s? Though I remember wearing some remarkably ugly leggings in the early 1990s, too…)

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