Ain’t Cheatin’, Ain’t Tryin’

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**Apologies in advance for the not great photos, took these at night with a flash as I feel like posting tonight and don’t want to wait for daylight.

Goalies have long had an interesting relationship with their equipment.  It serves the dual purposes of personal protection and puck blocking.  Sometimes these issues become intertwined, and the line between the two can be confusing.

But sometimes the issues are not confusing, as in the case of flat-out cheating.  That’s the topic of today, and of this jersey I just finished.

My favourite era of goalie equipment was sometime in the early to mid ’80s, during the transition from the all-leather stuff with fairly straightforward designs, to the era of modern materials.  There was a period when things went a little too far, but the experimental era of how to stop more pucks was fun and lead to some really interesting designs that pushed the limit of protection vs. puckstopping.  Cheater bars on gloves, puck foils, and other fun stuff came about and were often banned, and probably rightly so.

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I’d often heard of tales of goalies putting webbing under their arms, or between their legs. Mind you I’ve never seen such a piece of gear in action, or in any vintage photos.  It might be they were tall tales, it might be they were just banned or prohibited right away and we never saw them.

So I thought this would be something fun to make.  I also wanted to make it a real, functional jersey, so I made it from polyester mesh as opposed to the vintage-looking wools I often use.

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The colour selection was based on me finding a nice piece of old-stock twill cresting material.  I went with yellow and green as it’s such a great look for hockey jerseys, just like the Seals or North Stars.  I applied the cresting with the classic zig-zag stitch.

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I used a different, wider mesh for the under-sleeve inserts, that are just there for a little extra help catching pucks.  The jersey is a wide goalie cut so there is plenty extra material already.  I made the inserts small enough that the jersey could be worn without the wearer looking like Batman.

I love lace-up collars so that’s what this jersey received.  I happened to have some smooth green material for the collar, which means there are three different green materials on this jersey, all the exact same shade of kelly green.

 

Since the cresting material was a scrap, I got a little less than a metre.  I wanted to keep some for future projects, so I made this jersey number 1 to conserve material.

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I’m happy with the way the jersey turned out, and I really like the striping/panel design, although I think it looks better without the cheater webbing.  I think I’ll use this design for future jerseys.

I suspect I will be in polyester mode for a while.  I love this mesh and twill combination for a classic jersey look.  I also really enjoyed coming up with the concept, so I might do a series of these, all with different forms of cheating built in somehow.  A complete series of cheater goalie jerseys.

Oh, and of course, ACAT stands for ain’t cheatin’, ain’t tryin’.  You can decide for yourself if you think that’s true or not.

Jersey Fiction Part 1: A Jersey Made for Fighting

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This unusual jersey is part of a series of three I made a couple of years ago.  I had been making fictional jersey for a while, and wanted to get into more unusual designs.  I realized the difficulty might be in recognizing these as actual sports jerseys.  The one above looks more like a costume from a pirate play.

So I came up with the idea of writing a short story to explain the reason for the jersey’s existence.  I should mention I’m not a writer, and have no aspirations to be one.  But, I thought, maybe this would be an interesting way to provide more details in an interesting and fun way.

I will spare you the actual story, but I’ll try to break it down so you can see what I was getting at with this jersey and what all of the parts mean.

The story was this: a serial entrepreneur, sometime in the late ’40s or early ’50s, went to a hockey game and was amazed at the reaction the crowd had to the fights that broke out.  He reasoned that if he started a league that emphasized fighting, it would be even more popular than regular hockey and he would make a pile of money.

The rules would state that players that didn’t fight at least once a game would be fined, and, eventually, kicked out of the league if they didn’t fight enough.

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The league was called the Knock-Out Hockey League, or KOHL.  This is the logo I created for the league, with the tag line “See Stars,” which of course has a double meaning.  No top players were going to be found in this league.

Here’s a quote from the story as to how the jersey was designed:

“In watching regular hockey games, [he] noticed players often had a hard time holding onto each other, and this affected the quality of the fight.  In addition, the knit sweaters the players wore would often tear, which meant additional costs, which his underfunded league could hardly bear.  With these observations, [he] came up with a concept he considered his most brilliant: he would design a jersey specifically intended to enhance the duration, intensity, and appearance of the fights.”

The leather handle was there for the opposing player to grab onto, as opposed to trying to get hold of the collar.  It was riveted into the jersey for maximum strength.

The overall construction of the jersey was modular, with all of the pieces laced together though grommets.  This would allow separate pieces to be replaced with ease of they were damaged during a fight.  This also allowed the use of very heavy, thick material that would stand up to a lot of abuse.

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The white canvas bib was designed to absorb and enhance the appearance of blood.  This was patented and trademarked as the “Blud-Byb,” as the owner was sure others would try to copy his design for their own blood leagues.

Here’s another quote from the story that explains the single collar:

One design issue that became apparent early on was the neck and collar design.  The handle needed to be central on the jersey for balance, which meant the lace-up collar had to be offset.  This left no room for a formal collar, which [he] demanded.  ‘Our players need to represent their team and the league with the utmost dignity and respect’ he said.  ‘I absolutely insist on it.'”

The story also describes how no team was allowed to wear red, and all jerseys needed to be rendered in dull colours, both to ensure spilled blood would have the maximum contrast and would show up the best.  I stole this directly from Jaws, the movie.  I watched a documentary of the making of the film, and they mentioned this technique was used to give the shark attack scenes maximum impact.

Finally, the jersey was so unusual it couldn’t be made by standard jersey manufacturers, so they had a maker of apparel for the meat processing industry build the jerseys.  Company name: Slaughtertime.  The sleeves of course using a “butcher stripe” fabric, which presumably the manufacturer had plenty of lying around.

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You may be wondering if the league was successful.  Here’s the answer:

So how did the KOHL fare?  It was a dismal failure right from the start, and only lasted a few games to mostly empty arenas before the money ran out and the league was forced to fold.  He completely underestimated the blood lust of the fan, and only later came to realize it was the surprising and forbidden nature of the hockey fight that made it so appealing in the first place.  Once he legitimized it, made it official and sanctioned, it lost all of its appeal.  No one cared, because it was all supposed to happen.”

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In the story, the only remaining jersey from the league is this number 14 jersey.  Here’s how it survived:

“The only remaining jersey from the league is the number 14 jersey from a forward from the Knuckleburg Hammerers.  In the first game of the league, he was knocked out cold in a fight.  He only began to bleed while he was horizontal, which spared his jersey from the bloodstain it was meant to enhance.  It went with him to the hospital, where he spent a few days with a concussion, a broken orbital bone, and no memory of the fight.  Once discharged, the league was already gone, so he held onto the jersey as a keepsake.”

And the rest of the jerseys?

“The assets of the league were auctioned off, and the local fish processing plant was thrilled to buy all of the jerseys for a few dollars, to use as worker’s apparel.  They were cheap, durable, and could be discarded once they became too foul with the smell of fish.  And, as an added bonus, the leather handle proved handy to pull out the occasional and unfortunate worker who fell into the giant vat of fish guts which was used to produce plant fertilizer.”

The story ends with the entrepreneur working on his next scheme, an auto racing league with mandated crashes.

Overall a very fun project that fused many different disciplines and of course the jersey was a blast to make, since I wasn’t limited by any notion of a traditional sports jersey.

Up next: more jersey fiction.

 

 

Beautiful Blue

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I’m pretty sure this is the most beautiful jersey I’ve made, hence the title of this post.  It’s another hybrid jersey, this time a baseball/hockey goalie blend, but made out of wool and canvas fabrics that evoke the flannel baseball jersey era.

Imagine this: at some point in the past, a hockey team had jerseys made by a flannel baseball jersey manufacturer.  The team worked with the supplier to make sure the design was adapted to meet the needs of a hockey team.  The canvas sleeves add durability to the forearms, while the extra external arm pad provides the goalie with a little extra protection in the soft inside of the elbow joint.

Some vestigial remains of the baseball jersey are intact: the cadet collar and style of cresting.

What the photos don’t reveal is the magnificent nature of this sky blue pinstripe fabric.  It has a soft, high-quality feel I haven’t found in other fabrics I use.  Specialty flannel baseball fabrics are not available, so I’m limited to what I can find in stores.  So it’s always a bonus when I find something that looks like authentic old material.  Matched with the darker shades of blue, I think this is a great colour scheme.

The CH logo is done in a baseball-ish font, and is meant to be reminiscent of the Habs logo.

I really like fancy-style baseball fonts, and for the back used an attractive symmetrical number 1 that I think looks great.

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This wasn’t the first jersey of this style I made.  This one came first:

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I like the idea of external padding, but I went a bit overboard on this one, my first attempt.  The padding is kind of crude, and there’s just too much going on here.  For the blue one I pared it back to just the one oval-shaped arm pad.  I like the more refined look and asymmetry that resulted.

I do like the colours of the NBW jersey, and the windowpane check reminds me of some of the early baseball jerseys in this style.  I also used a very attractive font for the number 1 on the back:

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These are the only two jerseys I made in this style.  This was a couple of years ago and I never did anything with them so I decided to write about them now.

I still have several jerseys I will be posting here in the next little while.  Up next is a really unusual jersey that really pushed the boundaries of both jersey design, and the fictional back stories that usually accompany these designs.  Check back as I will be posting the next ones soon.

 

Toothed Whales Jersey

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Up next is another pinstriped hybrid jersey very similar to the Sea Kings jersey.  This time it’s a beautiful green pinstripe polyester fabric, with unbleached cotton canvas arm insets laced in with jute twine.  This was designed as another hockey jersey, but I think you could argue it’s just a baseball jersey.  Many had detachable sleeves and a short henley-like front during different eras.

The most notable feature is the zip-up collar that incorporates the zipper as the whale’s mouth.  Since this resembles teeth more than baleen, I made the whale look kind of like a sperm whale, so the team name makes sense.  The entire reason for this jersey’s existence is I wanted a zipper smile, everything else on this is pretty much filler.

Because the tail swings to one side, I placed the diamond TW logo to the lower right to balance it out.  The diamond is similar to many emblems seen on baseball jerseys in the flannel era, but also reminds me of corporate logos from the ’50s and ’60s, like some kind of chemical company or something.

There’s something joyous about the whale, like he’s breaching out of pure happiness.  And, of course, he’s smiling.

Here’s the back, not sure why I opted for a basic 1 as I normally like something more interesting, but maybe I was feeling lazy that day, or maybe the zipper was enough.

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Speaking of lazy, I should really take some close-ups of the zipper, but the jersey is downstairs in storage somewhere so I don’t have it handy to take a picture.  I really should, as I did a pretty good job of matching the pinstripes on the collar to those on the body.

As an additional fun detail, the whale’s eye is a grommet, same as the ones on the sleeves.