Have you ever found a project in a magazine and were obsessed with finding the suggested yarn for the project? The suggested yarn for a particular project I wanted to knit, Acadia (60% merino, 20% baby alpaca, 20%silk), The Fibre Company was waiting for me at Claddagh Yarns in Berkeley, CA. http://www.claddaghyarns.com The owner, Amanda Fernandez, encouraged me to use a color outside my comfort zone. I decided to use Col. 557 Chipmunk. The radiance from the silk fiber, along with the spun twist created by combining the merino and alpaca, highlighted with lilac-colored flecks proved to be a yarn worth knitting.
Halfway through the project, I looked at the sweater and began to question whether the pattern enhanced the beauty of Acadia. I went on a treasure hunt looking for the perfect pattern for this yarn. I discovered Toulouse Pullover designed by Leah B. Thibault in a special Winter Issue of Knitscene. (The 3/4 length sleeves are still in progress)
Leah mentions, “The focus is entirely on the bow here, as the rest of the sweater is a straight-forward raglan.” Leah’s addition of the floppy bow recalls the vintage look of days gone by, especially Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) and her Trompe l’oile Bow Knot Sweater. A more detailed history and a free download of the Bow Knot Sweater here http://www.schoolhousepress.com/bowknotsweater.htm
The look of the bow also resembles the “pussy bow blouse,” a woman’s shirt with a big floppy bow at the collar. In 1947, pussy cat bows were part of a look inspired by Gibson Girls and 1890s fashions created by designers such as Omar Kiam. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pussy_bow
The history of modern feminism takes the “pussy bow” blouse and defines the meaning in deeper context. An online article dated February 27, 2013, written by Tracie Egin Morrissey for Jezebel states:
“Other trailblazers concur: that’s how the floppy bow thing started in corporate America. Interestingly, the documentary doesn’t mention that these are called “pussy bows.” I always thought that was weird, but figured there was surely some kind of innocent reference (willow? cat?) that was just beyond my wheelhouse. But no. Since pussy bows were invented to be a sort of “girlie tie” it would appear that the name actually refers to the euphemism for female genitalia. Frankly, I think that makes it more awesome. It’s so feminine that it’s vaginal. The true offense here is that American Apparel is selling them as “secretary blouses”.”
The PBS documentary mentioned above Makers: Women Who Make America can be viewed at http://video.pbs.org/video/2336932877/