Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bowled over - by a Cricket Knitting Challenge

At last - I have completed my latest and most challenging knitting project since I took on knitting some Aran sweaters for a German priest friend in Tanzania in 1983 - the cricket vest for my son has finally seen the inside of his kit bag. I finished it last night and felt inordinately pleased with myself. I had begun to think it mightn't see this year's cricket season and I'm sure Shayne felt the same, but after some sticky wicket starts, I got on a roll a few weeks ago and really enjoyed making it. I'm slightly bereft now that it's done and I am already looking to my next project.

There's something incredibly Zen-like about knitting - it's relaxing and yet it concentrates the mind just enough without being tiring or tiresome - and there's the satisfaction of seeing it progressing through the various stages. The challenge comes in the form of the difficult bits I was unfamiliar with - the V-neck was a new design for me and yet it was very simple once I mastered the art of P2togTBL (purling two together through back of loop, for those knitting virgins among readers).

I had another hiccup when I realised I hadn't got the yellow wool as I had thought to do it in just green and cream - but then Shayne told me the Lismore Cricket Club colours were green and yellow - so I had to improvise the bottom border on the nearly completed back by ripping from the bottom rib to the border and effectively knitting from the border back to the rib rather than ripping the whole back and working back up - luckily the short-cut worked a treat.

So I hope you like the end result - it is incredibly heavy as it is made with about 14 x 50gm balls of Wendy Merino Double Knitting pure wool. The pattern called for Wendy Mode but when I went to the wool shop in Dungarvan - Monica's, a little shop packed to the rafters with wool and related accessories and a knitting browser's paradise - the lady there suggested the Merino instead of the Mode which is a wool blend. As both were the same price I opted for the Merino and it was fabulous to work with, and I really enjoyed making it. I was a bit shocked at the total cost as I am sure it would be cheaper to buy a factory-made jumper (and not in pure wool) for half I paid for the wool - and that's not counting the labour which I never factor in. The wool alone cost €65 - and if I was to make it for sale I suppose I'd have to up that to €100 to cover labour (which would be way below minimum wage rates!). So I will stick to doing the knitting for family and friends.

There is also a sentimental factor in all this that brings me back to my youth, as I recall my beloved mother who spent years of my childhood knitting Aran jumpers for a local designer who went on to achieve international renown on the fashion knitwear front. He was Cyril Cullen, and as he worked in the Social Welfare office in Lismore in the 1960s he recruited local women to work as home knitters when he went into the knitting and design full-time. He is still active in fashion and design and it is nice to think he got off the ground with his team of home knitters around Lismore back in the old days.

I guess that's where I got the love for knitting when I learnt it as a child from my mother rather than in Home Ec in school, where we laboured over sample squares and the dreaded sock with the impossible heel-turn I never could master. Even now I break out in a sweat at the thought of even attempting to turn a heel, though I am determined to give it a go one of these days.

I have an idea to make a mini-jumper for Sofia with the same colours and configuration - I have to try to find a V-neck cable baby jumper pattern now as I am not skilful enough to make up a pattern myself. I have got some great knitting books as presents in the past year and they have great tips on finishing garments and other useful stuff I always winged in the past. Now I am tempted to follow the expert guidance on joining seams and even experimenting with creating patterns, once I get a bit of confidence that my modifications might work!

Watch this space as I will keep updates and sit-reps and other progress reports coming!

The photos show:
  • The finished slipover modelled by Shayne,
  • The slipover after pressing
  • The pattern
  • The V-Neck detail
  • The wool with the ripped rib
  • The work in progress


Jo said...

Wow Catherine;) I am impressed. What a stunnning piece of work (ART work, no less) And to think you pulled it loose from the rib and re-did the colours. And it looks perfect. You are amazing and your handsome son looks super in the pullover. I know the feeling: when one project is completed you look for another. I have a similar post tomorrow on a project I worked on for three months here in North Africa. I'm off to South Africa on Saturday and needed it to be finished and it is. Now for the next one (Ha!) Thanks for commenting on my blog even though I've not got back to yours (because of the said project!) I will visit often again after our SA holiday. Blessings and hugs Jo (Khartoum- Sudan)

Lily said...

Catherine, great project, lovely result.

Priceless is the price I would have in mind.

Kirsty said...

Brilliant work! I agree, knitting is so relaxing... but I could never handle anything more taxing than long, uneven scarves :) I prefer to crochet squares, but I doubt a cricket jersey would look so good in squares!

talesfromagarden said...

Thats a true labour of love and it looks fantastic,your son is obviously proud to wear it!I remember that sock turning nightmare too in school never could master it!I bet theres not another member of the team modelling a home knit cricket top!

Unknown said...

Catherine, that looks fantastic. I totally agree with you about the zen like quality of yarn projects, my preference would be for crochet though.

Rudee said...

It's beautiful, Catherine!

Gracie said...

Catherine, that brings me back to when my mother also knitted for Cyril Cullen - I remember having to help wind the skeins of wool into balls! I hope you didn't have that to do with your knitting (Carmel Murphy)

Catherine said...

Thanks for all the comments folks - glad you like the jumper/slipover.
JO - nice that you think he's handsome - of course I'm biased but he was complaining I took his pic before his hair was "done" and also he wasn't in his whites so not really representative! Enjoy SA and I will go back and read your blog soon - busy days lately!

LILY - thanks for that priceless comment! you are right though - labour of love and all that!glad your blog is up and running again - I will drop by at the weekend though I won't finish the book - it's just too long and I have just got it and it's not grabbing my attention. I'll be interested in other opinions though!

Thanks KIRSTY - I also love the crochet squares though it's years since I did any and now I plan to start again soon as I have just got a lovely new book with crochet/knit patterns merged, they have some delightful results. I have to reacquaint myself with the crochet as it's years since I did any! I had a tasteful squares jacket in the 70s - black background with multicolour infill - and thought I was the height of fashion!

KATHLEEN - you are right, he's the only one with a home-made cricket jumper! And he will try to be an agent for me by telling his pals I'll make one for them too - but then he tells them how much the wool is (I'd do it for about €25 labour cost) and they run a mile! Of course I could do it in Acrylic for about €25 wool cost, but would it be like the pure merino? Doubt it! I loved working in the quality wool, can't beat the real thing!

MARIAN - it is rather Zen like, isn't it? I find I need something now to replace the knitting in my TV watching mode so I will resume a new pattern soon! (I couldn't access your profile to see your blog, you must have enabled privacy settings!)

RUDEE - for someone as experienced and skilled a knitter as you this would be a doddle but thanks for the kind comment! It's a simple cable over 30 rows per repeat so it's not too taxing!

CARMEL - thanks for commenting - glad you are following the blog and no I don't have to wind skeins of wool like in Cyril Cullen's day - I do remember sitting on the floor winding the skeins from the back of a chair or my mother holding them in outstretched arms. I doubt if our mothers made much money from their labours , I am sure it was as much for love than money they did it. Hope you revisit the blog, I update it randomly but usually weekly or more.

All the best to all, Catherine

Jinksy said...

Oh, yes!As soon as I read your words "ripping from the bottom rib to the border and effectively knitting from the border back to the rib" I knew I'd found a fellow nit (knit?)!!! You talk my language, as well as being able to improvise impromptu crafty corner cutting when needed... I'll no doubt be back... X

Olive said...

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. The finished product looks great by the way! I wish I could knit well, it seems like a relaxing hobby. I did try it some time ago in school, but unfortunately the finished product didn't look half as good as yours.

diane b said...

It looks so professional and 100 times better than a bought one. Green and gold!!! you could knit one for each member of the Australian Team. hee hee

Peggy said...

Hi Catherine,you did a marvellous job on the sweater even the improvising bit!I have often been faced with a problem and tried to think of ways around not having to rip the whole thing out so that is how we learn to knit.I also hated the heel turning going to school but knit socks last year and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the heel turning was, I think the problem was the rows had to be counted and what 10/12 year old counts rows?!
The sweater is fabulous and I agree the price is for family only as I have often found when knitting for some one else who does not knit or sew they have no appreciation of the time and effort that goes into the making.
Off now to read about Cyril Cullen

Catherine said...

JINSKY - glad you found a fellow knit wit in me! Hope you like the blog, and be sure to share your own knit/craft projects with us!

DIANE - I doubt I'd get round to knitting for the entire Aussie Cricket team - is that their colour? I didn't know they were green and gold also - small world! Lismore is twinned with the NSW town Lismore, and there is a Lismore in Victoria who played Lismore here a decade ago. There's another one in Australia but I'm not sure which state.

PEGGY - thought I'd replied already but it seems to have gone missing. Glad you liked the improvs- it helps to be creative when the alternative is ripping half the jumper! I would like to have a go at socks now that I have overcome my fear of circular knitting since I made a cap with 4 needles earlier this year and it worked well. I've been crocheting pot-holders lately - they're a doddle to make in an hour or so. Did you check out Cyril Cullen? He's still around - not sure if he's knitting still.

All the best, Catherine.