I have been knitting for so long I cannot actually remember when I learned to knit. It just happened. My mother could knit and then so could I. There have been “times of no knitting” – I found it very difficult to do any crafts after my father died, probably because in the last few months before his death I used to sit and stitch beside his bed whilst he slept. But I have also found that crafts have brought me solace when times have been tough, such as when I discovered I had inherited my family’s rubbish heart genes. Knitting – and all crafts – still bring me much joy and peace but recently I have been discovering the power of my craft upon the lives of others.
Two of my friends have recently celebrated the arrival of baby daughters and I decided to knit something for each child. Miranda’s parents chose the pattern I eventually made for their daughter, Miranda, from an old Pingouin baby knits magazine I bought back in the 1980s. OK – I haven’t actually had a baby in my own family since 1991 but you never know when these things are going to come in handy – or that is what I tell the Old Man. The truth is that I am a Maximalist – the oppositie of Minimalist – and I don’t like parting with old knitting patterns, but I don’t tell him that. Anyway, back to Miranda: my friends chose a dress pattern (from Sporty Layette in magazine issue 54 for those who care about such things), but asked that I made it in something other than pink.
I used Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK, which gave a nice thick, warm fabric, perfect for winter.
My other friend was given a couple of skeins of wool to look at and he and his wife chose the colour they liked best – the yarn is Rowan Fine Art yarn – but I chose the pattern (Little Oak by Alana Dakos). Then, in between starting the cardigan and finishing it, Baby Isla fell ill and has now been diagnosed with Angelman syndrome.
I look at this picture and it makes me want to cry but Isla’s parents were so grateful for this cardigan. They just loved having something beautiful and practical that they could put on their baby. Apparently the seamless construction also helps. I know nothing can take away the pain that Isla’s diagnosis has brought but I also know that this is probably the most important thing I have ever made. It didn’t start out that way; it was a gift for some friends with a new baby when I first picked up my needles, but this cardigan has now become a sort of knitted hug; an expression of love and solidarity.
Don’t get me wrong. Miranda’s parents are absolutely overjoyed that I made the dress and that gift was important too. But this little cardigan says so much more than just “Congratulations on your new baby”.So , currently on my needles: another Sporty Layette dress – in pink – for little Isla….You can’t have too many knitted hugs.