My inner radiator and I have now officially encountered the hottest weekend of the year so far. It was hot, wonderfully sunny, and really hot. Because I am clearly a glutton for punishment I celebrated this short existence of an English summer by knitting on a fair isle Shetland wool baby blanket. Did I mention that it was hot?
The reason for such wholehearted absence of reason; and the presence of a freezer full of lollies and ice-pops (which incidentally tasted so much better when they had artificial colours and flavours in them), was the yarn, and the pattern, and the fair isle, and the yarn and the …. well you get the picture; by the virtue of abandoning the sofa in favour of a nest of cushions on my bed and the Twilight audio books for company, I’ve been rediscovering just why I love making fair isle, why I think Alice/Jade Starmore designs are so beautiful, and the fact that I really do have a compulsion to finish thing, even sections of things.
For example, the middle of Baby Bear’s Point Reyes blanket, finished after the sun slipped away below the fence on Sunday night.
This picture is a little blue-er than real life but it’s still so pretty, or manly, depending on the baby bear’s gender, and with the exception of a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon when I swear I knit the same row over and over and over again and tinked back over and over and over again (I’m blaming vibes from the TV watcher downstairs who was getting increasingly frustrated), it wasn’t impossibly hard, just a question of finding a rhythm and going with it and watching pretty colours stack up on one another.
It is also huge – somehow far bigger than my brain was expecting; and there’ve been several moments when I’ve thought that the baby might make it before I’d finished the fair isle. (Note how I’m not promising anything about the border. Which has 924ish stitches).
For scale, my friendly resident photographer, who was discovered in the garden barbecuing away his sorrows by poking smouldering charcoal viciously with a pointy stick, offers you a portrait entitled:
‘Blanket tube obscuring 30 weeks of baby and 6 foot and 30 years of wife’
It’s too long to be a jumper for even me! (We will now ignore the fact that it is also too small to fit around me – I’m working very hard to resist desperate cravings to knit a jumper, or a little cardie, on the relentlessly sensible basis that I have absolutely no idea what size I’m going to be in (a) about 30 weeks or (b) in about 6 months to a year. Grrr to the rational brain cells I want to knit a cardigan).
Well all you die hard knitter know how the next bit goes. For the benefit of my father, yes I am about to take a pair of scissors to the knitting and yes that is intentional and not the combination of pregnancy hormones and inner frustration at the ever knit and tink row.
The steek, all stripy and innocent – see how it sits there not knowing the fate about to befall it.
First cut. Please note that this is all done without any machine or crochet reinforcement, or the assistance of a swift slug of port for dutch courage – the first time I steeked anything it was machine reinforced and I’d sewn and cut up every swatch within reach before I finally went for it.
And the deed is done.
Somehow it looks oddly smaller all stretched out – I think it’s the change in proportion.
The next step is to pick up stitches all around for the border, the pattern recommend using a 100cm needle for that – well that’s an 80cm needle in the top, so I think 100cm might be a touch optimistic. I ordered 3.25mm needle tips for my KnitPro needles from Get Knitted yesterday morning and in a stunningly quick piece of customer service they arrived today so I’m going to start out with the 120cm and see how we go.
I have truly loved knitting this fair isle and I’m getting first hand just why Alice Starmore patterns are so popular; it’s not necessarily that her designs are the latest in cutting edge fashion, and whilst I love many of the fair isle jumper patterns, I don’t know how much I’d wear them; it’s the colour sense and the patterning and the joy of making a Starmore.
Happily it seems that the lady herself is now willing and able to re-engage with our knitting community; her Fair Isle book was reissued last year and new versions of Aran Knitting and Fishermans’ Sweaters are coming out this autumn/winter. Aran Knitting is already pre-ordered and I’m lucky enough to own an old copy of Fishermans’ Sweaters after a lovely friend spotted it in a charity shop for £2.50 and gave it to me as a ‘make my day’ present.
But before I go to pick up a crazy large number of stitches (the 924 really isn’t too much of a joke), and lest you think this week’s bump was hiding beneath it’s blanket …