I'm willing to go down some unexpected roads and be the victim of some quizzical looks in the pursuit of preppy anthropology. My colleagues at the library, for instance, were truly puzzled as to why I wanted first dibs on these recently-purchased knitting tutorials. After all, I'm male, I don't knit, and have never expressed an interest in learning how.
But for reasons which will be obvious to my readers, this picture got my attention.
|Meg and Elizabeth in 1978.|
The DVD contains the complete run of the television program, and for me much of the joy of watching comes from Meg's personal aesthetic, an earthy, L.L. Bean-inspired style which includes a multitude of scrunchy turtlenecks, turned-up collars, and braided belts--not to mention her own handmade sweaters and other wearables. Along the way, she and her mother also demonstrate how to make your own Fair Isle yoke henleys and Norwegian-style crewnecks, which at the time still carried a certain amount of popular currency.
|Meg's daughter Liesl rocks the obligatory oxford-and-jeans uniform with a sporty cardigan.|
But perhaps even more striking in view of all this is the mood set by the show. This is not a slick production. It's staged on a cramped set surrounded by the hosts' creations, and the family cats often jump unexpectedly into view during the narration. The book, which is chock full of stories and photos from Elizabeth's long and well-traveled life, only reinforces the spirit of authenticity. This is knitting before the hipsters discovered it and made it into something edgy and incendiary, and reflects a pre-Handbook, 1970's-inspired preppy ethos that is more Volvo, NPR, and Muffy Aldrich than it is Mercedes, pink-and-green, and country-club precious.
Even if I didn't learn anything I will use later, spending time with Elizabeth and Meg felt like being with a couple of old friends. It was well worth my co-workers' good-natured ribbing...if you'll excuse the pun.
|Meg and daughter in the late 1980s. Liesl has what my friend Donagrace calls "Rich Girl Hair."|