About 1986 or ‘7, I (John) bought a tie-dyed thermal undershirt off a touring Deadhead. When it started to wear out, I was unable to buy another one, so I started mending it, patching holes with swatches of fabric cut out of any sort of cloth that had a little thickness and a little stretch to it. Some parts of the shirt are still black, because at first I used mostly old dress socks. Later I used swatches cut out of a worn-out blue thermal shirt, and I liked the mix of colors better, so I eventually attached the entire blue shirt to it, in pieces.
I sewed through the decaying original fabric and the patch beneath, to help bind them together, and soon I noticed that the stitching was becoming part of the color mix, so I switched to using brightly colored yarn and embroidery floss.
Some years ago, I bought a domino mask and cut out a mask shape from the shirt, which I attached to the mask with glue and stitches, so I could go as the sweater for Halloween. I patched the hole in the shirt, and even reattached the bits I cut out for eyeholes in the mask.
In 2007, my wife, Kathe, and I were on a tour of artists’ studios in Philomath, and a fabric artist complimented me on the shirt. I immediately cut a swatch out of my shirt and gave it to her. She immediately gave me a scrap from her current project and gave it to me, and I incorporated it into the shirt.
In 2008, I bought a new tie-dyed thermal shirt (since the Dead had long since disbanded, I got it off the Internet). I cut the back out of my shirt and sewed it onto the front of the new shirt, then cut the front out from behind the shirt and sewed it to the back of my own, and thus turned one shirt into two. I gave the other to my wife. We then set to work with yarn and patching material, making the backs of our shirts match the fronts, each in our own way. So if you see someone wearing a shirt similar to mine, that would most likely be Kathe.
Public opinion is divided on the sweaters. Some have referred to them as looking like “Technicolor puke”, but most of the comments we have received have been favorable -- complimentary, even.