memory lane- the 80’s

I’ve been at a loss for words this week.

So I thought I’d do some reminiscing. Taking a look at the past can provide a clue to the way forward, don’t you think? An astrologer who did my chart a long time ago told me I should look through my photo albums at least once a month to remind myself of who I am and where I’ve been. This, he said, is essential for a gemini because we tend to live in the present and jettison the past too easily.

The past in this case is some of the work I’ve done in knitting in the years before I had my shop in California and before I wrote my book with Tracey.

Some of these are designs that I sold under my own label. They were made by  a group of dedicated and intrepid knitters in New Zealand and sold to boutiques in the USA, mostly on the East Coast. Does anyone remember Stewart Ross on Madison Avenue?

This week it’s 80’s: the puffed sleeve and shoulder pad decade.

The design above has the sleeve equivalent of big hair. It’s called Fantasque, named after a Clarice Cliff vase. I find CC an inexhaustible source of inspiration. She is one of my passions, along with shoes and buttons.

Below is a cardigan inspired by the line drawings of Matisse. It was published by Vogue Knitting Winter 1989.

This is Hopi, my best seller from that time. It’s a big cozy shawl collared cardigan that reflected my love of the South West and anything Native American. The buttons were old Indian head nickels.

Cleaning out my Mum’s apartment after she passed away last year I found one of these cardigans in her closet. She wore it up until the very end of her life.

Another southwest inspiration. In the late 80’s and early 90’s crushed velvet prairie skirts, lots of big turquoise jewellery and big concho belts were the thing. This style makes a comeback every couple of years, it seems. No wonder. It’s classic.

For something totally different, a designed inspired by textiles from the Kuba people of pre-colonial Africa. I wish I still had one of these.

This feels a little like being on an archaeological dig in my own life. Next week, it’s the 90’s……

10 Responses to “memory lane- the 80’s”

  1. Carole Whitridge Says:

    Very, very interesting! On my list of “to knit” this spring/summer is a big long cardigan to wrap myself up in next winter and although some of the shapes are different, the cover-your-behind cardigan is such a useful thing to own. I like the seed-stitch edges in the first pic. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Leslie Says:

    My goodness, I knit on like the Matisse, cuz I saw in a store in NYC… Can it be?

  3. Kim Says:

    I love Hopi Mel, perhaps my next project :-)

  4. Lies Says:

    Mmmm I was 16 somewhere in that era, chuckle chuckle. Oh I wonder what happened to my big boxy cardie that my mum knit.
    Hope you well Mel X

  5. Patricia Says:

    I loved 80’s fashion, no apologies. I owned a beautiful oversize sweater with a Picasso intarsia. I wore it to bits. Benneton supplied me with wonderful sweater dresses, leggings and big belts. I still have a vook called Knitting Masterpieces that have fabulous intarsia designs from Picasso to Monet. The 80’s were great but I didn’t do big hair!

  6. Julia Davies Says:

    Love the photos – aren’t they all masterpieces?
    Can’t wait to see the 90’s.

  7. Moisha Says:

    dreamy southwestern cardigan, im not surprise it was well loved. do you have a catalogue for these designs?

  8. Jayne Chapple Says:

    I’m looking for a knitting pattern for a ladies\adult shaggy\loop cardigan. Something similar to the link below, but without a cuff (wider sleeve end openings) nor band at bottom ie just straight or shaped. Can you help please ?

    Jayne Chapple

  9. Mel Says:

    You can sometimes find patterns for shaggy loop cardigans in vintage knitting books. They were popular in the 70’s.
    Or you could find a pattern for a plain cardigan and add loops to it, bearing in mind that the loops change the gauge. Perhaps you could make a swatch of loops, measure the gauge and then find a pattern with that gauge?
    There’s are instructions here for making loops:

  10. Kay McKellar Says:

    So pleased to have found Mel Clark and this post. I have a beautiful Matisse cardigan with a label “Melvine Clark” “Hand knitted in New Zealand” which I purchased 4’ish years ago in Palm Springs where I visit for a month every spring. I live in Canada’s Rockies and really treasure this garment. Wear it every chance I get. Would love to share a picture of it if you let me know where I may send it. Will you be giving any classes in California this year? Sincerely, Kay

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