You win some, you lose some. The cherubic (and dare I say photogenic) boy you see wearing my ‘Coniston’ sweater in the pic at the top of this page is my son. How fortunate, you might think, to be a knitting designer blessed with a ready-made model. Think again. This child has been known to choose shorts and (reluctantly) a t-shirt as his attire even in the depths of winter. He runs hot. In addition, if he thinks it’s a handknit, especially a mummy-made handknit, he won’t touch it with a barge pole. Coniston was designed especially for him, in non-itchy recycled yarn, with a hood because he likes them and a wide neck for his large noggin. Other than the day I bribed him with chocolate to take this photo, he’s worn it maybe half a dozen times if I’m lucky, and even then under extreme protest.
Even my boy with his penguin-like abilities to withstand cold sometimes gets cold hands, however, and it was making me feel bad as a mother, let alone a knitting mother, that he didn’t have a decent pair of mittens. Not so bad that I would spend my time making something he wouldn’t wear though, so a design conference was called. I can’t really recall who came up with what aspect of the design, but we decided that if I could make something that was easy to get on, like a mitten, but had a bit more finger-moving ability, like the ‘lobster claw’ gloves he’s seen his Daddy wear for bike riding, he might just wear them. Furthermore, if they made his hands look like monster claws, then the chances of him wearing them went up even more. This is how the ‘Dragon’ part of the ‘St George & The Dragon‘ set was born.
When I decided to see whether Knit Now might be interested in our idea, it was a natural step to come up with a hat to go with the gloves. Knowing that my boy’s tastes usually run to the simple, rather than the ‘full on dragon’s head’ complicated, I thought that a beanie replicating a knight’s helmet was the way to go. With a simple cross of reverse stocking stitch on stocking stitch, it’s easy enough for even a beginner.
The design appears in Knit Now’s Best of British issue, which I’m delighted about. I’ve become more and more drawn to using British-produced yarns in recent years, for reasons including environmental considerations, a desire to support this ancient industry that’s part of our heritage and, selfishly, the sense of integrity and linking to the past that I feel when I’m using them. For this project I got to try out Woolyknit Aran. Woolyknit yarns were a new one on me but I suspect this won’t the be the last time I use them. The quality of colour and soft, springy feel were lovely to work with and the finished items blocked to a quality-looking finish. Furthermore, they aren’t bank-breakingly expensive, a factor that can lead some people away from buying British or buying wool.
So, the question is, will my reluctant little model wear them? Hmmm…the jury is still out. The gloves have had a few outings, but since they knit up so quickly in the aran, I don’t mind too much if they end up being passed down without much wear to his little sister. Now, there’s a much more willing knitwear model (she is particularly attached to a textured beanie made by her great-grandmother)- if I could only get her to stay still for pictures….
The thing about my mum is that she is just the best at listening to what I want and what I need. The week before P’s birthday, when I was laid low with a throat infection, no sooner had I sent a message moaning about how I wished she lived closer than she changed her timetable around and came riding to the rescue, 5 hours up the motorway to mind grandchildren while I slept and grumbled and waited for antibiotics to do their job. That was a big lovely thing she did, as was the job she and my Dad did this weekend hosting M’s birthday party. It’s the little things as well though, like remembering how I said I wanted to get a proper metal pie dish. Then, the next time she was shopping for kitchen stuff, she bought me one. Just because.
I have to say she’s also got me into a rather addictive habit- patchwork. Like I need another craft hobby/drain on scant finances. She’s made lovely baby quilts for both the children, and I followed up with a ‘Big Boy Bed’ quilt for P last year. A dress given to M when she was born got me thinking that I should make all her outgrown frocks into her ‘Big Girl Bed’ quilt so that’s in the pipeline, along with too many other projects. However, we’re also working on decorating our bedroom at the moment and I’ve been thinking that the perfect finish to our shabby chic/country house hotel look would be…a patchwork quilt. As a result, Mum, M and I paid a rather lovely visit to The Patchwork Basket this weekend and I indulged in some retail therapy. Couldn’t resist trying them out as soon as I got home either!
Meet my nemesis. Okay, that’s over-egging it a little, but this slide and its brothers and sisters elsewhere do give me more than their fair share of grief. All mummies have their particular fear- their child choking, getting lost, poisoning themselves, cutting themselves etc. etc. Of course I worry about all the aforementioned and more, but my special thing is P falling off tall things. I’m like my own mother in this respect but who knows if it’s nature or nurture. All I know is that I end up on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand I find it nerve-wracking to let my little explorer clamber up ladders, balance on walls, scramble up banks and so on, and it makes me want to stop him or hold his hand all the time. On the other hand I know that the only way he’ll learn to negotiate heights safely is to clamber, balance, scramble and yes, even occasionally fall. Also, I don’t want to pass my own fear of heights onto him. So most of the time I work really hard on appearing calm, try to keep my steadying hands to myself and let him take (controlled) risks. I’ve found our recent repeated viewings of ‘Finding Nemo’ (the only way we could get Baptism preparations completed in time) quite inspiring in this respect. At one point a character points out that if you don’t let anything happen to your kids, then nothing ever happens to them. Of course, today, having persuaded myself that maybe I should stand back when he tackled the slide ladder pictured, his foot slipped on the rain-wet second rung and he tumbled straight off. He was fine thank goodness and I managed to be matter of fact and encourage him to climb up straight away again. Of course, he didn’t need any persuasion, as he’s not scared of heights. No, my little toddler, with a pet chicken at home and Granny with a friendly dog who lives on a farm, who goes on country walks through fields of livestock, has suddenly decided he’s scared of…animals! I really hope it’s a phase, and a reasonably short one at that.