But I have been sewing up!
It’s been a long process, given that on a good day I could manage to knit about eight rows… and it’s not even for me.
(Oh, apologies for the appearance of such decorative details as light switches and door handles in some of the photos by the way – I had to take them quickly. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)
Months and months ago, in the brief gap between a steroid injection at the base of one finger working and both thumbs giving way, I was in the fabulous Stash near Chester with a friend. She’s not a knitter, but we’d made a rare and exciting weekday shopping expedition to the hive of scum and villainy that is Chester (think Mos Eisley but with knitting shops – or at least it is Mos Eisley when you live in the wilds of Snowdonia), and I insisted we popped in. While we were there she fell in love. It’s the only possible description – she pounced on a sample garment, tried it on and almost had to have it surgically removed so we could leave without being arrested.
What could I do?
The obvious – I offered to knit it for her.
It’s Pipkin by Jane Ellison, knitted in Noro Blossom. Happily, because there was that sample garment, I was able to note the sort of adjustments my friend wanted – slightly longer body, longer sleeves, the right size (some people are just plain picky) – and, even more happily, Stash had some Blossom on sale.
It did have to mature in the stash pile for a bit – all yarns do, it’s a house rule – and then my thumbs really gave out. However, I was able to very, very slooooowly knit a shawl, and that gave me confidence. (Also the guilt got too much for me; it was rather like having my mother lurking in the stash going ‘fine friend you are, you said you’d do it…’ because every time I went into what I laughingly refer to as the spare room the bag of Noro fell off the top of the stash basket and the skeins tumbled out.)
So I hauled it downstairs.
Now most needle sizes are uncomfortable at the moment, except 4.5mm, 5 and 5.5, but luckily this fitted into my comfort zone so I was able to quiet the persistent Celtic/Jewish mother (they’re interchangeable, honest) that is my stash basket. And it wasn’t the easiest yarn to knit with, even had my hands been flexible, fully mobile and with opposable thumbs that actually functioned as opposable.
But the colours were glorious, and when knitting is problematic and painful when you do too much, happy and vibrant colour goes a long way to helping with the process. I enjoyed the colours so much that I never minded picking it up, and I found it hard to put down even though I knew I had to set it aside. Finishing the back – I always start with the biggest piece – was a major achievement. The fronts seemed to grow quite quickly by comparison.
Then I hit the sleeves. Oh, boy. One of the changes I needed to make was adding some shaping here (in the original, they’re short tubes – elbow length. S wanted longer sleeves, so I had to add some shaping: easy peasy, lemon cheesy. Except I ground to a halt for a couple of weeks, and I’ve no idea why. When I finally picked them up, they also grew quite fast – well, in weeks, that is, whereas before I could knock off a couple of sleeves in (maybe) three evenings.
And it did mean I had something I could take to our Knit and Natter, instead of sitting about watching everyone else producing fabulous garments. Admittedly the general opinion of the nattering knitterers was that this jacket would be better with the knit side outwards (it’s in reverse stocking stitch), and I did have a hiccup along those lines when I started sewing it together, but I was able to undo it without too much trouble and put it back the right way round. Purl side out it was and remains, and I think it works much better that way.
But the thing I’m most pleased about (apart from the fact that I just made it with the yarn – had to do some sewing up with a little bit of leftover Noro Kureyon), is the buttons.
They’re just ordinary two-hole fisheye buttons, but I managed to find four colours that worked with the yarn (thank you, Abakhan at Mostyn). So purples at the top and bottom, red in the middle and a blue and a green in between – and I’m absurdly pleased with it.
So – phew – is my friend. I gave it to her yesterday, when we went to Chester again (shoes, yay!), and she started patting and fondling it before we hit the shops. And she likes what she calls the ‘bobbly side’ outwards, too. What a relief. And if anyone is going to the rugby in Cardiff next weekend and sees a woman wearing something that looks as though it might be this, then it is. It’s being taken on an outing as justification for not wearing a rubbery dragon outfit.
And now my next knitting is for me.