The Fish Cardigan: an unexpected designer piece.

“Murder, She Wrote” Series 1 – Episode 2
“Deadly Lady”
(Post 3 of 4)

Here it is, the bold choice I mentioned a couple of posts ago: the Fish Cardigan!
This piece makes a statement of confidence and Jessica looks absolutely incredible in it.

I must say… it is very exciting when I discover something new about Jessica’s fashion choices, and this cardigan was indeed a surprise.

I am not going to lie: I feared finding anything even remotely similar would have been a real challenge… and yet I discovered that this is not a random knitted item: this is a Mary Maxim pattern, a beautiful piece of classic American design.

Mary Maxim is quoted as being “the largest mail order merchandiser of exclusive needlework and craft kits in North America”, active from the early 1950’s until the present day. They became popular for their bulky, knit sweaters with designs influenced by North American Wildlife, and celebrities such as Bob Hope and the Barenaked Ladies have been pictured wearing them (sources: Wikipedia and Mary Maxim website).

I guess someone will have to edit their Wikipedia entry to add Jessica Fletcher to the list of the celebrities endorsing their products, because, according to my internet research, this fish design is definitely one of theirs!

mary maxim jessica

In this episode, Jessica uses this cardigan as a jacket on top of a couple of her outfits, and by keeping the rest of her clothes very simple and understated, the bold design of the cardigan does not overpower her overall look, turning it into a fashion statement both whimsical and classy.

My first sighting of this cardigan, confirming its origin, has been on this Canadian Design Resource website. From there, it has been quite easy to rummage through vintage websites in search of other pieces.
So, if you wish to have a pretty much identical cardigan to the one Jessica wears in this episode (and then show off to your friends about it), you can either look for vintage options, like this green one by Etsy seller Melsvanity, or this grey one by Etsy seller TheJavaShop, or you can look for the original knitting pattern, like this one available on Ebay, and knit it yourself (or, if you have two left hands like me, having someone lovingly knitting it for you). The official Mary Maxim website still sells a fish pattern, but it is slightly different.

Alternatively, we could all email Mary Maxim and ask them to recreate that lovely fish pattern sweater for all the many generations of Jessica’s fans…
I certainly know I would buy it!

jess

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10 responses to “The Fish Cardigan: an unexpected designer piece.

  1. Wow – well done you for finding it!

  2. Spot on! :)
    I can just imagine Jessica sitting in her cozy living room, knitting her own cardigan from the pattern; especially in 1st season, before her whirlwind career kept her super busy. What a great character point! That’s costuming genius!!

    • Definitely!! I wonder how many other details took as much meticulous preparation and thoughts and yet they fit so well around Jessica that we don’t even realise it!

  3. I like that sweater! Looks really warm and cozy…lol

  4. Just wanted to pop in and say thanks to you, I seriously considered taking up knitting, just so I could make my own Mary Maxim sweater. Then I got honest with myself about the 100 or so other previous needle crafting distasters sitting in my craft bin, and came to my senses. Let that be a testament to the power of your blog, though – lol!

    • Aw, thank you so much for such lovely comment!! You know, I would love to be able to knit, but I have two left hands and no patience!! :) Thank you again!!

  5. Well, I have one left hand, one right hand, and one Mary Maxim #4042, which I knit for my husband when I was a bride, many years ago. Our son now wears it. Check it out at http://www.ravelry.com/projects/YearoftheSheep/trout-fishing-in-america-. Strangely, the photos have been co-opted by Mary Maxim to illustrate this item on the web.

  6. Seriously, you have no idea how legendary this cardigan is to me a my friends/family who watch MSW! We’ve talked about it for years, and every one of us has been on a mission to find the same one (or a very similar one)! So this pretty much made my day – thank you so much for all your hard work on this wonderful blog, you seem like such a lovely person xx

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