Back When We Were Cool


My mother and  grandmother went through a Phentex phase. Phentex slippers, Phentex hats, Phentex ponchos…yes, ponchos. Like a shawl with none of the glamour. And fringe. Granny square Phentex. Orange and brown Phentex (see photo above.) Purple and green Phentex. (All photos of such have been mercifully destroyed.)

Wearing Phentex was like wearing clothes knit out of pink fiberglass insulation.

How is this supposed to work?

Make it yourself! Afghans, ponchos, baby clothes…a continuation of the sixties handcraft revival, teamed with Nana’s depression era thriftiness. Remember broomstick lace, and the scarves and shawls that looked like poor excuses for fishing nets?

Seriously, my grandmother would make stuff like this

I think these elegant ensembles just scream “I had acorn granola for breakfast.” And the hors d’oeuvres served at this party involved canned salmon and wheat thins. Because we were like that. Sincerely delusional.

angry kabuki sweater

We could teach hipsters a thing or two…

a casual sweater for your man to wear down to the AMC dealership

We could turn our handwork skills to providing something nice for the man of the house, when he wanted to be styling while shopping for a new Gremlin.

We were cool.


11 thoughts on “Back When We Were Cool

  1. I love some of these clothes really but I guess it’s because I was not born when they were in style. I love the coat or is it a poncho on the first picture, I would wear it any day. The quirky shirt on the fourth picture is dead cool too although I am not sure I would wear it myself. I like the man’s sweater too, I have had plans to make a similar one for R. I like 60’s and 70’s clothes but I do not understand how young people today can wear late 80’s and 90’s style clothes because I wore them the last time they were in fashion…

    • The brown hooded – coat? poncho? isn’t bad. My grandmother went through a Mary Maxim frenzy and everyone had motif sweaters. I got to visit Mary Maxim last year, in Paris, Ontario. It is a fun store! I liked the clothes from the sixties at the time, didn’t much care for the seventies, except for that prairie dress phase. What really amused me was that the guys are at an AMC dealership – American Motors Company was a “new” car manufacturer, and turned out some of the ugliest, worst running vehicles ever.

  2. Love it! I purchased a handful of knitting/crochet magazines from the early 70’s, they were a quarter each, and provided a good laugh for all of us. There were a few patterns that I would actually use, but most were very dated. The most hideous pattern of all was a belted pantsuit in bright orange with dark green trim, the entire ensemble was crocheted, and the lady modeling the it looked thrilled! My Dad worked with a guy who liked to knit, he had a knitting machine and made most of his own clothes. One evening the knitting man came to dinner with our family, my sisters and I had a hard time stifling our laughter when we opened the front door, and found before us a middle aged, balding man, smoking a cigarette wearing a pale pink knitted suit, pants, vest, jacket, it was beautifully made, yet so monstrous!!
    Thanks for sharing, you started my day with a chuckle!

    • Well, that is a bit…eccentric. Creative but eccentric. I had a knitting machine years ago, made a bunch of sweaters with it – I’d love to get another one.

  3. Bean

    I am dying from laughter from your descriptions of your father’s co-worker, it seems surreal to say the least!

    I have a lot of knitting and crochet books from the 70’s and some patterns are great if you look beyond the colors and the synthetic yarn. Somethings like the extreme love of knitted vests in the same model for the whole family are not to my taste to not say too much…

  4. I must share that I enjoy crochet dresses quite a bit. I wasn’t raised in this country…so a lot of your descriptions and such, I don’t relate to. But I do remember the 70’s in my country, and they were not as colorful as they were here. 🙂


    • The nineteen-seventies were the era of colour television here in North America, and many of us born to parents who grew up during World War II were beginning to break away from their more austere lifestyle. I look back now and think that my parents would have been better off living a stricter life than the one of grudging and occasional worldliness.

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