Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Fine Lines

About the time I began writing this blog (about 6 years or so ago) my children decided that handmade knitwear was actually something you could wear, be seen in public with, acknowledge to all and sundry that 'Yes, it was in fact hand-knitted and my Mum made it for me' and be proud of it. Only a fellow knitter understands the myriad proud feelings that come with your teenage / young adult children arriving at this realisation. We started slowly with accessories and gently progressed to whole garments.

Since then I've made the boy a handmade jumper, a scarf and five hats (as well as a knitted stuffed deer head for the Boy Cave). That reminds me, I've made three of these hats fairly recently. Stay tuned for a hat blog post featuring the boy wearing hats! He also has a queue of matched yarn and jumper / cardigan patterns waiting for me to get around to knitting them.
Not so Little Boy Blue and wearing Graeme the hat!

Examination in brioche
The middle daughter Mel (The Fanciful Fungirl) still lives at home and so is in a prime position for subtle nagging and tempting suggestions of what she really needs knit for her next. Her tally so far is two berets, three beanies, a knitted cloche hat, two pairs of fingerless gloves and two jumpers (and a knitted cover for her tablet computer complete with bumble bees). She also tends to bring out my design instincts, commissioning unique hand knitted pieces.
Funky Chunky
Cables of Europe
Sunrise / Sunset using hand dyed yarn
The eldest Doctor daughter has sadly missed out on her fair share of the knitted bounty to a certain extent. Oh, I've knitted her three berets and a slouchy hat but that is it... (The fact that she knits herself does contribute to this a bit. She made her own intricately cabled cover for her laptop and a lovely seed stitch cowl and last time she was home snaffled some knitting needles and raided the stash for squishy wool  to make some more accessories and cushion covers).
Selbu Modern
Slow Flurry on me, the daughter wearing her own hand knitted seed stitch cowl

She hasn't yet got a hand knit jumper and I decided in November it was time to remedy that. After all November is NaKniSweMo - National Knit a Sweater (of more than 50,000 stitches) Month. This time my needles were going to be dedicated to making a jumper for the Doctor daughter.

Making a jumper for an adult with their own distinct personal style is a process of research and negotiation. We began with looking at the European runway fashion for knitwear for the upcoming Winter season. Brioche, rib, cables and fair-isle (often in monochrome colourways) were the common knitwear themes. Oh and fringes!! Let's not go there, ever! She sent me photos of jumpers she had found in the shops that she had debated buying. It looked like something in a defined rib with shaping flaring out towards the bottom was on the top of her list. The colour choice was easy - grey. We often joke until fairly recently my daughter's entire wardrobe was shades of grey punctuated with black exercise wear and the odd other neutral (cream, white, denim and occasionally mushroom).

A knitted jumper is a big commitment and if done right out of good quality yarn should last for 20 or more years. So what ever we made should be classic enough not to go out of style too quickly. But it needed a modern edge. The jumper we eventually chose is classic fisherman's rib but with very modern lines and shaping - Fisherman Redux.

Pattern: Fisherman Redux by Vera Sanon
Needles: 3.75 mm and 4.5 mm 
Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills Stellar 8 Ply, Colourway 105 Shell - 4 by 200 g balls. This is a wool and bamboo blend with a lovely soft drape and lustre.

So we tried to knit this in November... I ordered yarn 1st November as I didn’t have anything suitable in the stash. (Thank Bob for online mail order). I did swatch with some op shop yarn but the texture didn’t do the pattern justice. The yarn arrived Thursday 5th November - swatched to make sure that my gauge was spot on. It was! And then I cast on on Friday night 6th November. I worked up the band - around 1000 stitches and then realized I had started the 1 by 1 rib on a knit and it needed to be a purl. Teach me to think know what I’m doing without carefully reading the pattern…. So I ripped it all out again and followed the pattern instructions for 1 by 1 rib. Only 4 rows and 255 sts on day 1. Saturday 7th November was move the boy home form Geelong at the end of the Uni year - lots of scope for car knitting.

And this is about where real life commitments and November NaKniSweMo knitting plans crashed into each other head on and the knitting plans got stream-rolled by marking, exams and admin plus a major assessment piece for my own study into a twisted smoking wreck. Oh, I tried. I finished the front, back, neck edging and part of a sleeve in November. I started counting stitches and got to over 30,000 for the back and front alone. This is definitely a +50,000 stitches garment.

I’d also like to give a special shout out to Hazel, the 30+ kilo 8 month old puppy with a penchant for yarn and stealth sneak stealing of knitting. I love you for the almost half a front I had to frog and re-knit twice after you took my knitting for a few runs around the backyard. It is really difficult (read this as impossible) to pick up a well dropped stitch in Fisherman's rib!!
I finished this in the post Christmas relaxing period. (I often find this is a really productive time for me knit wise. I like to finish the year with a cleanish slate and I have time to laze and watch the Boxing Day test on TV and let the needles fly away).

This is a knitting success story. It fits Doctor daughter perfectly. She loves it (except for a minor quibble about the width of the sleeves - they’re a little wide for her taste) and I love the sleek modern shaping. The yarn has a gorgeous shine and sheen and is crisp enough to show off the rib to perfection. It looked great even before blocking and amazing after.
Is that really rain - on my new jumper?
So what do you want me to knit for you next, Doctor daughter? (And thanks for playing photo shoot too early one Sunday morning in the rainy city after you'd just finished a full on night shift!) Photo credits for the lovely shots of Doctor daughter to the boy (@larkinsmark on instagram).

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