Monday, March 30, 2009

Fashion Victim: Knit Wit

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Does anybody remember these?

I've always been partial to vintage clothing –I was a punk rocker in the late 70s/early 80s, after all– but I didn't start collecting methodically, in earnest, until the late 80s/early 90s. My friend Greg also had an academic interest in vintage togs, and we quickly glommed onto these peculiar "word knits," as we called them, and competed for them fiercely. They tend to be t-shirts or polo shirts, and they're invariably striped with short sentences or phrases woven into the design, sometimes accompanied by primitive graphics. I've got an orange striped t-shirt, for instance, which advises Get in GEAR! with a bunch of little gears.

The above is my favorite, though, because it's the only one I've ever seen which depicts homicide. Neat! I suppose, though, that I better not wear it into a bank or airport.

Anyway! I've never been able to find out anything about this short-lived trend, which I believe existed only in the first half of the 1970s. I don't know what the weaving process was called, or who started the whole idea. The one pictured has no label, sadly, but the other ones in my collection tend to come from cheaper department stores. And as far as I know, this is one of the very few 70s microtrends which has yet to be revived; I imagine the cheapness and easy availability of printed, rather than woven, fabrics is to blame.

What do you want your "word knit" to say?

17 comments:

Lulu Maude said...

Faux pass, I think.

Lil' cognitive dissonance.

Anonymous said...

I think that's a type of jacquard knit.

FranIAm said...

I love Lulu Maude, I am not that nit-witty clever.

That said, I admit to coveting your stick-em up piece there, Princess. Shoot em up - bang bang bang!

Anonymous said...

If those start appearing at Fashion Week, we'll blame you, mighty Princess! LOVE your blog totally.

Muscato said...

I think it's possible that the trend-ette may have continued, if only slightly, into the second half of the seventies, Princess, if only because I seem to remember having a Bicentennial-themed polo, with a Liberty Bell graphic. Don't remember the words, but I expect it was something like USA 200 or some such.

I believe my mother bought it for me at Carlisle's, our town's very definition of a "cheaper department store."

Karen Zipdrive said...

I'd want mine to say, "Dick Cheney" and have cartoon dildos and elephants between the typeface.

Fran said...

I'm going with PEACE & peace signs.... always in style.

lucy said...

i want mine to say WTF with question marks

dguzman said...

I want mine to say what I thought, at first glance, yours said: FUCK 'EM UP!

dorothy said...

You could probably get something for that at a garage sale in Stillwater, OK.

Anonymous said...

looks like double-knit to me.

Lulu Maude said...

"Stick it, Rene," could be nice.

I don't know who Rene is, though.

Rhode Island Rules said...

Funny, I hadn't thought of those in years, but recognized them immediately here. Probably was the "twitter" of our time?

70's clothing wasn't pretty then, no need to bring it back!

iain said...

I once had a landlady (so to speak) in Wimbledon, UK, who MADE the things. A totally mechanised process. The pattern was programmed into a peculiar Knitmaster or some such machine, the knitter/machine operator fed the whirring beast some nice colored wool, and viola! it whizzed away repeating the pattern until commanded to STOP.

gleeindc said...

Love the clothing. It makes me miss my zipper-shut cowboy wallet from the early 1970s.

discombobulated but copacetic said...

My husband has a golf shirt (once his father's, now liberated). From a distance it looks like a white polo with little squiggly and vaguely arabesque designs on it. Up close, said designs read "Oh, Shit".

I love and covet this shirt. My mean husband will not let me wear it b/c I might get superglue, red wine, caulk, chocolate, kitty fur all over it, thus ruing the high/low weirdness of his immaculate cussing shirt.

Post your collection, please???? I will send you pics of the Oh Shit shirt.

Felix said...

I like the pixelated look that words take on when they are knitted.

Nothing competes with that tiny, nylony, knit-loopy, strandy, graphic, 1970s word-knit brilliance.

Actually, now that you've bought this to my attention, I am slightly amazed that we haven't seen a revival of what was clearly an amazing idea.

I love hand-knitting words in socks and suchlike, but that looks very different to this teensy, machine-done stuff.