The last time I knit myself a jumper I was pregnant with Elma. She’s a deepest darkest winter sort of a baby and that was all the justification I needed to make myself a Mama Snug and then wear it pretty much daily (occasionally alternating with John’s hockey club hoodie) all through the last few months. That was five years ago, and since then I’ve made countless pairs of socks, a handful of hats, and no less than 35 sweaters in sizes ranging from teeny tiny preemie to age 11-12. The only thing I’ve made for me, was three pairs of socks, all of them in the last year, and one of the pairs was half done before even Kitty was born.
I’ve got yarn in my stash to make cardigans and jumpers for me; I’ve even matched patterns for some of it, and yet I cast off one jumper for a tiny adorable person and cast on the next, even though they neglect them and leave them in the middle of the hall floor.
This year, I said to myself, this year I will knit myself a jumper. I’ve got the yarn, I can find a pattern, it will be wonderfully, and cosy warm, and the perfect shade of burnt orange and I will love it and wear it until it falls apart and I’ll still be smiling. And yet it took me until July to cast on, and only then because I forcibly separated myself from most of my stash by putting it in storage while we moved house.
The truth is that right now I am not the size and shape that I would always want to be. For various reasons, some medical, some chocolate, the baby weight from my last two pregnancies has stuck around with some persistence, despite sporadic attempts to do something about it. It is very much my intention to do something about it, but equally it is not my highest priority right now, and I’ve made my peace with that.
But when it comes to knitting a jumper for myself, and knowing that when I’ve knitted it I’ll want to tske pictures of myself wearing it to show you all, I look back on the pictures of the much slimmer me I used to knit for and wonder whether I should really be knitting for me now. The invidious voice in the back of my head tells me that if I’d just wait a bit, and pull my finger out and do some fitness and stop eating chocolate buttons every time I get really stressed at work I’ll get back to a size where I can share pictures on the internet and not worry that everyone’s going to think I’m secretly pregnant and I’ll look just like a model in the pictures. For the record, I never looked like a model and the only thing in my tummy is my lunch.
Even when I was casting on, in the full knowledge that this was the only sizeable knitting project I had with me, the voice whispered “wait!”.
For a woman who generally has a fairly healthy relationship with her self doubt it was very disappointing.
Of course I’m glad I did. The final skein of yarn arrived just as I was taking pictures for a work in progress post and was curled up into a ball later that night. It only needed a few rows, a collar and the darning in of a dozen ends and I had a jumper. And this time it fitted perfectly. I put it on and it was warm and snuggly and big and cosy without being too big, with long enough sleeves and long enough in the body that it feels like being wrapped up in a giant hug. I love it, the colour is luscious, and very seasonally appropriate, and the yarn itself (Spud and Chloe Sweater in Firecracker) has earned its place in my favourites list.
After giving you a sneak peek as I knit like the wind to the end of the yarn from my stash, I’ve been itching to share the finished jumper with you, and a little nervous too, and I did seriously contemplate just taking some pictures of it folded or on a hanger. Anything rather than do what I actually did, which was to hand the big camera off to Kitty and smile.
She has no preconceptions about what I should look like, no imposed criteria for what is beautiful and no thought of trying to angle the camera to be as flattering as possible. In fact most of her direction was to pull silly faces, to pose like I’m flying and then to pull off some Saturday Night style dance moves, none of which, oddly enough, appear in knitwear catalogues.
At least half of her shots were blurry because she just couldn’t stop laughing, in some of them I’m almost entirely missing from the frame, but with the exception of the top couple of photos, she took all of these shots.
So let me share my newly finished jumper with you. The pattern is Waking Tide, and the yarn Spud and Chloe Sweater. I started the bottom half as the size 38/40, knit another 2 inches to the body and then decreased four stitches every 6th round along where the side seams would fall, to bring the stitch count down to the size 36/38 (it’s decrease two stitches on the final round). That gave me 4 inches extra in total which is pretty much my standard length adjustment (I’m 6’0″ tall). The sleeves I knit to the 36/38 size, though there’s very little difference, and then the yoke is the smaller size, though still with plenty of positive ease. My tension was a little looser than the pattern (fewer stitches to the inch), but I liked the fabric I got so it was just a question of doing the right maths (eventually – see previous post for the sad and lamentous tale of unravelling skein after skein to start over).
I love the lace work in the yoke; in a wool/cotton yarn it’s really textural and the ripples remind me of the beach at really low tide; when the waves have carved dimples into the sand as they retreat, and you have to hop from one to the next to get down to the water’s edge.
And even better, it has me itching to cast on something more that’s just for me. It might be another year before I make another jumper or cardie, after all I have a bag of Yarndale stash that needs turning into jumpers and hats for little girls so that I can convince John that I have to go again next year, but I won’t let it be because I don’t think I deserve it.
May it be the first of many.