It all started last month, with the Sale Arts Trail Christmas Bazaar (Sale being a place on the outskirts of Manchester). My friend Bronwen Simpson was there selling her beautiful hats and scarves, so I thought I'd go along and have a look. Another stall had items made from super-chunky merino yarn, including scarves with big buttons. They were lovely, but a bit too chunky for my taste. Also I must admit that dry-clean-only items don't really fit into my life. Then on a stall selling turned wood pieces I found a bowl full of big wooden buttons, and Had An Idea.
My last (and indeed only) attempt at knitting was way back in the early 1980s, when I made a sweater. It was (intentionally) baggy, had very little shaping, and was made from a chunky and very fluffy yarn, which disguised a multitude of errors. I love looking at the beautiful knitted items which bloggers such as Juliana and Tasha post, and am in awe of their skill, but couldn't imaging producing anything like that myself. But it struck me that I ought to be able to manage a basic scarf.
The first problem occurred when I went to my local fabric and wool shop, and was overwhelmed with choice! I didn't want anything too expensive for a first attempt, so eventually I decided upon a chunky, multi-coloured acrylic yarn in blues and browns.
|Wool and buttons
I bought some needles as well (6mm) and set to - and the results were just as you would expect for something which I last did 35 years ago, and to a mediocre standard then. So I ripped it out, and did the sensible thing of practising with a ball of double knitting yarn which for some unknown reason I had lying around.
Once I had mastered the idea of a basic knit two purl two rib, I had another go with the proper yarn. Much better.
I was spending most of Christmas and New Year at my parents' house, and this was a far easier project to take with me than any dressmaking. What I did need to do before Christmas was master the art of knitting and talking simultaneously; my parents deserve more than monosyllabic grunts!
I was surprised at just how quickly I got into my new hobby; whenever I had a spare couple of minutes, I would find myself picking up my knitting to sneak in a couple more rows! I made the buttonhole by casting off a few stitches, and casting them back on in the next row - I have no idea if this is the correct technique.
|Button and buttonhole
The length was based on an existing fleece scarf, and I used the remaining wool to make a fringe. There are all sorts of crimes against tension going on along the scarf, but I'm still thrilled with the end result.
I did quickly get tired of carrying my work around in a plastic carrier bag, so between Christmas and New Year I made myself a knitting bag from a couple of cotton remnants. A couple of people have given me knitting needles they no longer use, so as there's some fabric left over I'll make a bag for those as well.
|Knitting bag. The handles were the most expensive part!
As a seamstress and a knitting newbie, I underestimated the stretchiness of knitting, so the button and buttonhole are further down than I would like. The button has to be wedged in the V of my coat.
|Holding the button in place
No matter. The 2X2 rib makes for a toasty warm scarf. Even better, the button stops the ends from flapping about with an unbuttoned coat.
|With Simplicity 4896 - not at all historically accurate, but super-warm
I've had to create a new 'knitting' label for this post, but I doubt if this is the only time I'll use it!