Friday, December 16, 2011

The Dude abides - and his sweater does, too

As soon as I finish the Carnation Aquamarine, I'm starting the Takoma Cardigan. I know it's not the optimal sweater for a big-bottomed girl, but once in a while you have to say the heck with it. It was love at first sight from the moment I set eyes on this knitted Cowichan coat designed by Julia Farwell-Clay. Just gotta have it.

I was daydreaming about the Takoma today when Facebook displayed an ad for the Dude's Cowichan sweater. How ironic! Of course, I'm referring to the Dude from The Great Lebowski, one of my favorite movies of all time. Who could resist Jeff Bridges, even playing the scruffy, dirty Dude? Goodness, he's handsome.

The original Dude sweater, a 1970s bulky fair isle cardigan made by the Winona Wool Mills, contains FOUR pounds of yarn and is based on a traditional Indian blanket design. Note the circle zipper pull - haven't seen one of those in decades.

The original Dude sweater went up for auction earlier this year. According to auction house Profiles in History, "There were four sweaters made for the production — this vintage sweater and three modern copies, according to costume designer Mary Zophres. Bridges wore this vintage sweater exclusively during the entire production, preferring to wear it all the time and thus delve deeper into the ‘Dudeness’ required of the role.”

The price for this archetypal sweater soared to over $11,000 before the auction was cancelled. "A day before the auction, questions arose about the screen usage of the 'Big Lebowski' sweater. Originally there were several copies made of the Lebowski sweater for the production of the film, it could not be determined if this one was screen used. In keeping with the policies of Profiles in History, it was withdrawn from the auction pending further research." So the Dude's sweater abides - whichever one it was.

The Pendleton Woolen Mills now sells an updated version, which the company describes thusly: "Like our original (you might have seen it on the Dude Lebowski), this vintage look is inspired by sweaters made by the Cowichan Natives of British Columbia. Chunky 3-gauge knit with leather tab pull." You can get this dry cleanable, lambswool sweater for $188. I prefer the original - especially if Jeff Bridges is wearing it.

For my own personal Cowichan, I'm using the pattern's prescribed Cascade Eco+ in Merlot (burgundy), Yakima Heather (dark olive), and Straw (gold). Julia's version used burgundy, dark olive, and tan, but it looked a bit flat to me, so I added the gold instead.

As usual, I spent hours looking for the just-right buttons. I finally found some 1920s-1930s Bakelite buttons on ebay. I love the dark art-deco-carved wheat motif. I bet they'll be perfect, plus it will be fun to have truly one-of-a-kind fasteners on this creation.

The Dude abides! And these 80- or 90-year-old Bakelite buttons do, too.


  1. I know you are eager to delve into the Takoma...I can see why!It's gorgeous.
    As for the Dude..Like the sweater and hope razors and foam come with the lit! LOL...AND..I am gonna watch the movie tonight on Netflix.I could use a good comedy movie right now.
    I bet one Dude sweater follows for Tom.....

  2. ps...we had a Bakelite radio as kids and I remember my mother having a bangle of it in her jewelry box...both would be worth a mint now on ebay!
    Those buttons are perfecto!!!

  3. I fell in love with Takoma, too, but...ick--intarsia. Perhaps I'll figure out a way to knit it in the round with a steek. I like your gold substitution, and the buttons are perfect.

    The Big Lebowski is my favorite movie of all time. I've watched it at least 100 times. I write an amateur sleuth mystery series and drop references to the movie throughout my books.

  4. the profanity is over the top, though, from watching 20 minutes of it.
    I'll take the sweater, though.
    I guess I have grown accustomed to Masterpiece Mystery. Could be my age too! t_a

  5. Teresa, Tom Shea ain't getting another sweater out of me, not until he starts wearing the first two I made him! He did tell me that he loves wearing the fair isle cashmerino hat I just made him. He's a little redeemed - just a little. :-)

    And yes, lots of profanity... sorry. Should have warned you.

  6. Robin, what a great idea to have the Dude show up in your novels! One of the best characters ever, ever.

    There are lots of people who are knitting this in the round and steeking later. There's not any intarsia, just color stranding which I think is a lot easier than bloody intarsia! If you're interested, come check out the Rav KAL group. You can see how others are dealing with this.

  7. I mostly include movie references here and there that only the biggest fans would be able to identify. (Yes, lots of profanity, which would normally bother me, but I've seen the movie so many times, it doesn't register anymore.)

    Thanks for the Rav link. I'm not in a position to do the KAL with y'all right now, but I'll be reading and watching.

  8. Beautiful sweaters. I love them and the red one look lovely on you.

  9. Gotta love the dude, no matter what sweater he wears. Love that movie. It's really high on the # of knitwear/movie rating.

  10. Says her favorite movie is the great lebowski
    Actually called the big lebowski

  11. I make that mistake all the time! Thanks for the correction.