Yup. Seriously. Handknit tights. Knit circa the winter of 1993-94. I must have been crazy.
Yarn is 4-ply machine washable wool blend sock yarn, likely purchased at Weaving Works.
Started in Seattle, I'm guessing, and then continued on the road while traveling for a couple of months during March and April 1994, from Seattle to Missoula to Boulder to St. Louis to Dallas/Ft Worth to Tempe to San Diego, taking a break from them during a week or two backpacking and camping halfway down Baja, and then again from San Deigo to Tempe to Durango. I do remember knitting the second leg during the spring of 1994 while living out of a Subaru wagon and a tiny 2-person North Face Tadpole tent somewhere up Junction Creek outside of Durango, Colorado, waking up some mornings with new-fallen snow on the ground.
They've seen little actual wear over the years, although I remember wearing them once while job hunting that following fall, with Birkenstock sandals and a shorter pleated skirt. Got a job making sandwiches at a deli and quit halfway through the first day, the only job ever where I didn't stick it out.
These have been packed away, unworn, most of the time since then, me never quite able to part with them after all the work that went into them. Still, over the years, the left leg has developed a couple of holes (moths?) and a couple of ends have still never been sewn in.
I remember clearly that I counted and double checked rows meticulously while knitting these to make sure the legs matched, but the right leg turned out distinctly longer and looser and so it quickly sags into an elephant ankle after putting them on. I can only guess that I must have been more relaxed while knitting that leg causing a much looser gauge? Also, you can see the "laddering" between the needles down the tops of the feet which I tend not to get so much of now.
Pattern or rather, "pithy directions for tights, children and adults": Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac, the September chapter, "Nether Garments", still the best knitting book around, IMO, and one of the least expensive at $7.95 today and only $3.99 when I bought my copy waaaay back in in 1991.
It appears that I knit these from the ankle up, k1,p1 ribbing, leaving out the waist ribbing, eyelets, and i-cord tie. There's a line at the ankle where the stitches jog sideways by half a stitch, where I must have unpicked the cast on edge, put the stitches back on the needles, and added the feet on, knitting them top down from there.
Today I wore these for the first time in years under a pair of cargo pants and was sooooo cozy warm on such a chilly, wet, and windy spring day. They conveniently sit low enough to not peek out over the top of of today's lower riding pants.
Incredible what a couple of warmer days and one rainy morning can do for the greening up the grasses.
Back home this evening, sun shining out from under a layer of clouds as it started to set, I cracked open the Knitter's Almanac and came across this from EZ herself:
"...even the shy housewife likes to slip them on under her slacks to go to the store on exceptionally cold days. I have been known to pull them on under a housedress, add boots, my warm coat, and woolly cap and mittens, and trot comfortably to the A&P, looking (almost) like everybody else."
Debating what to do with these now that I've rediscovered them: cut and finish them off above the knees and wear them like a pair of knicker length longies under skirts? Or, darn the holes and wear them under pants, patched up holes and elephant ankles notwithstanding? I'm leaning towards the latter. They still fit great other than the bagginess at one ankle. Any thoughts?
And, because I know someone will ask: they're Keen Calistoga in Rum Raisin (and now they come in a some new colors, Deep Lichen green and Flamingo orange. Carnelian red are quite nice, too. Dang.)