Waikato Rugby Jumper

For a long time, I’ve wanted to knit my friends’ son a rugby jumper. They’re a sports-mad family and the cricket vest I made him a couple of years ago has seen many outings (as evidenced by photos on Twitter. Again people, if you want your friend to keep knitting for you, keep posting those happy pics). A rugby jumper seemed the next step.

There was a wee hiccup – Rav didn’t have a rugby jersey pattern. Or at least, not quite what I had in mind. I wanted a vintage Kiwi rugby jersey that looked like Colin Mead would wear. It would look like it gained a couple of kilos when it rained,* but that was fine, strapping rugby lads could carry it. And above all else, the collar had to be perfect.

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I worried and fretted over it, but in the end, the collar was the easiest part. I did it in one go and I’m pretty happy with how it turn out.

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The hard part was designing a jumper for a child who’s measurements I wasn’t sure about. It’s very difficult to find an accurate children’s sizing chart. While I had wanted the jumper to be a surprise, I ended up having to ask for Ed’s measurements, just to be on the safe side. With the input of the ladies at Richmond Knitters, who know a great deal more about child than I, I managed to create a jumper that fit.

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I’d love to write this pattern up, but with very little knowledge of children’s sizes, I feel I wouldn’t be able to offer accurate sizing. Which is a pity, because I’m sure there’s many Kiwi nanas and mums who’d like to make. Perhaps it’s time to develop my skills a bit more….

* I’m not exaggerating. When I was about thirteen, some of the boys weighed themselves before and after a very wet muddy game. They gained at least 2 kgs.

Beware of Yarn Snobbery

It’s oh-so-easy to fall into yarn snobbery and not even notice. Snobbery of any kind if quite insidious and coming under its influence is a process so gradual, we may not even notice.

For the Baby Fair Isle jumper, I had been gifted the yarn scraps for the colourwork (thanks Sharon!) and only needed to buy the main colour. I decided to treat myself and took a trip to Woolarium, with a plan to get some lovely sock yarn or something similar.

The helpful shop owner and I went through my options, but they were fairly limited; none of the sock yarns suited the colours I had or were too variagated, and many of the solids weren’t machine-washable (a requirement of the giftee).

‘There’s always the Paton’s Dreamtime,’ the shop lady remarked.

Patons? I thought. But it so…generic. It’ll be overly processed and boring. It’ll be made in China. It’ll be the yarn equivalent of factory lager.

I had, in short, become a yarn snob.

Fortunately, there were two colours that matched the two sets of scraps I had, so I picked it up – and was wrong on all counts. The Dreamtime knit up gorgeously, it smelt deliciously sheepy, and is made in Australia. I ended up buying two colours, charcoal and dark fawn (one for each of the scrap sets), and am ever-so-glad that I did. The charcoal is beautiful, with a slight heathery appearance. There were no knots or breaks. And the price – while I’m all for paying people what their talents and labour is worth, it’s nice to be able to make a baby jumper for under $25.

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Baby Girl Fair Isle also a ridiculously cute pattern. It’s knit from the bottom up, with the body and sleeves added together at the armpits and the simple yoke knitted up after that. My only complaint is the construction is written a bit strangely with too much breaking of the yarn – I ignored the instructions for joining the sleeves on and did it the way I normally do.

It’s almost as beautiful on the inside!

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I will definitely be knitting this again and I’ll definitely be using Patons again. Well, I kind of have to, I bought the yarn to make a second!

Ravelled here.

The Ideal ‘Welcome to the World’ Present

Babies are the people I’m most likely to knit for. They haven’t had time to make an enemy of me yet, they’re quick and easy to knit for, and everyone coos over the finished product. It’s win, win, win.

Normally I make a baby cardigan or jumper. Sometimes booties or socks. Maybe even a hat. It’s always been something they could wear, which brings with it the inevitable worries. What if it’s too small? How long will it fit them for? Is this wool really washable? I usually counter these worries by making the clothing a size or two big (cuffs can always be rolled up, extra body length never goes astray) and using yarn that I know to reliable in the washing machine.

Until now.

The recent spate of babies amongst my Auckland friends has caused me to be a bit more creative. This was particular true for one set of new parents. The dad is a keen gardener and home brewer, the mum likes to be social and out and about. For some reason, whenever I pictured them and their new baby, I saw them outside, baby tucked up in pram and being included in their outgoing lives. And what makes a happy baby in a pram? A blanket.

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I think I may have found my new perfect baby present idea. A ten ply pram blanket takes about the same amount of time to knit as a baby jumper. It uses a little bit more yarn, but not so much. And best of all – it will always fit and it will fit for a very long time. And baby seemed to like it – check out how stoked he is!

FYI – if you want to keep getting baby presents, it’s best to Tweet out a photo of the new present being used on the day you received it. Nothing make a knitter happier.

For this baby blanket, I used The Walt Painted Baby Blanket by Danielle Romanetti, knitted up in the ever reliable Bendigo Luxury ten ply. Ravelled here.

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A word of warning though – baby blankets also make perfect lap blankets and you may fall in love with it like I did while making it! It took a lot of self discipline to gift this creation.