Once upon a time, there were two little girls. Two brand new ever so little little girls in fact. And as we all know, new little people need knitwear, even if they do happen to be born right in the middle of the summer.
There was only ever going to be one theme for these knits. The girls’ mummy is completely head over heels in love with horses, to the point of choosing exactly which Shetland pony she’d have in the garden for her children if only they could get it to London – and have enough garden. So I looked and looked and looked around Ravelry for every sort of baby jumper or cardigan ever thought up that was horsey themed until I found Roo Designs Pony Pullover and knew it was the one.
Or rather, the two.
The pattern is written as for aran weight yarn with Takhi Cotton Classic as suggested yarn, but knit on 4mm needles. I think it’s one of those occasions where only the specified yarn will actually give you the right tension, it falls right between anything I can usually manage for either DK or Aran, but as the smallest size was an age one, and I really wanted a six month sort of size, I went for DK and 4mm needles, knowing that it would turn out smaller than expected. I knit the back and front and sleeves an inch shorter than the pattern and it all looks perfectly proportionate.
The yarn is Rico Classic Merino, chosen mostly for the gorgeous deep green. Kitty came with me on a wool shopping expedition and she and I went back and forth picking out the colours for the stripes. I wanted matching but not matching, something that says “little girl”, without saying “never in the world have you seen as much pink as I am wearing right this moment!”, something that could hold its own against the green, and not overwhelm the blue for the horse.
The first combination is strawberries and the yellow of the top of proper clotted cream, pure summer in knitwear, and the second is moving into autumn, blackberries and elderberries, and for some reason it reminds me of Black Forest Gateau, but that may just be association with the place where much of it was knitted.
The front and back are knit flat and then seamed, and in the original pattern the sleeves and neckband are too but I like baby knits to be as seam free as possible so I sewed up the shoulders and side seams first and knit the rest in the round. It’s a little bit fiddly managing jogless stripes with the first few sets of decreases but after that it’s easy.
I am really pleased with the way they turned out, pleased and not a little relieved because it’s been a while since I did any intarsia, and when I was half way up a horse, with an entire flock of mini balls of yarn tumbling and tangling with every stitch, I began to have serious doubts about whether this had been a good idea. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to weave in the ends and block it; suddenly what was looking a bit lumpy and bumpy and very much not my best work, becomes smooth and even. Even then, I cheated on the eye, and put it in with duplicate stitch later!
I finished the first in July but the second got pushed back and so it wasn’t until September that I could finally put them in the post and send them off. It doesn’t matter in terms of their small owners being too big for them, there’s more than enough to grow, but the thing is, there’s an old wives’ tale that babies wait for their knitwear, that the baby will come when the knitting is ready; and certainly my nephew was born only hours after I finished his cardigan. I’ve always made huge efforts to make sure the knitting for my babies will be ready for them and I try to do my best to be ready for the other babies I knit for.
That the twins arrived before I was finished was no surprise, especially after I had to down needles for so long in July and August. But I do wonder whether I ought to be extending an apology to their poor mother after the girls hung on for a really, really, really long time, eventually arriving well past 40 weeks. If it was the knitting that did it, I’m really sorry – hopefully the jumpers make up for it.