The Accidental Rugby Jersey

When I moved to Melbourne, I had one skein of Vintage Purls sock yarn and several hanks of Filatura Di Crosa Centolavaggi, a (thin) 2ply. I reasoned this would last me quite a while while I was looking for a job and wouldn’t buy yarn with my limited budget. 

I bought yarn anyway. The 2 ply languished in my stash bag. I felt guilty whenever I spotted it. Finally the guilt overwhelmed me and decided put it to the needles. I settled on Hannah Fettig’s Featherweight and, fearful that none of the colours available would be quite enough, I decided to stripe. Choosing between the five colours available, I ummed and urred. I placed one next to another and then switched them all around and around. I finally selected on the maroon and duck egg blue, which looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t quite work out why….

I cast on using the maroon first. It was a strangely comforting colour, but I dismissed this feeling as part of its gentle, homely hue and long residency in my stash. As I knitted down the shoulders in maroon, I glanced at the blue and wondered again why it seemed so familiar. Maybe it was the colours of a rugby team in New Zealand? I couldn’t remember which though and it didn’t seem to matter.

A few weeks later, I picked up the cardigan after working on another project and made it to the end of the first maroon stripe. As I knit the first row of blue, I still couldn’t shake the feeling I knew these colours. They were a part of my history somehow. I purled back across, still pondering the problem. As I finished the row and laid it out to see the effect, it hit me: I was knitting a replica of my high school rugby jersey.

From the Inglewood High School Facebook page

This is a more recent version of the rugby jersey. When I was at school, the colours were solid and, well, looked a little less flash. More like the socks below.

Inglewood High School rugby socks from the Puke Ariki archive.

No wonder the maroon looked so damn familiar; I’d worn a jumper in that exact shade for four years! I knew that jersey so well. Ten years later and I can still remember exactly where the hole in the sleeve was. It wasn’t just the colours either – I’d even managed to knit stripes of the same width as the rugby jersey! 

At first I was mortified. Why on earth would I want to wear those colours again? Four years in the Inglewood School uniform was more than enough. But, after my initial repulsion, I decided I quite liked the idea of taking a bit of my fashion history and incorporating it into the future.  After all, all fashion s cylindrical, isn’t it? But I think I’ll left the blue-and-maroon tartan skirt in the dust ban of history where it so rightfully belongs. 

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