I Made This is a weekly blog series that features makers from around the world and aims to talk about the things we are proud of; of the objects we make that have meaning to us and the journey we take to make them.
I ended last year with an I Made This from my good friend Jenn, and I am going to start the year with another good friend of mine Martine. And there is a reason why I want to share their stories. Both of them are newbie crafters and have only been making for the last two years. Which is part of why I find them so inspiring. Neither of them has years of crafty experience under their belts and so they totally have the newfound joy of making for themselves. They are finding their feet, sorting through their stuff and finding their confidence. It is a total privilege to watch. They show that you can be at the start of your crafty life AND make amazingly beautiful stuff that makes your heart sing.
It turns out that my first knitted sweater, coincidentally my first knitted garment for my boy, feels amazingly special. He is SO chuffed, and I'm chuffed for him, and for me.
Knitting it was a twelve month marathon in the making. Casting on occurred while on a beach holiday last year, and I happened to bind off and sew in the ends sitting at the same table, twelve months later. It's kind of ridiculous but the learning has been incredible.
Before I talk more about the sweater I want to give a little backdrop to my story, and let you into my thinking. I started knitting two short years ago with the loving encouragement of our dear friend Felicia. For a good ten months I sat in awe of her ability to make such beautiful things. It is only through her "of course you can do it" motto, that pushed me from knitting kilometers of garter stitch into knitting garments that I like, and that my children would wear. I now have made several cardigans for my two girls, starting off with easier capped sleeves, progressing to full sleeves and then to lace. Totally fun when you have a 'master' at your finger tips and a small community of makers in your mix. Learning craft together, and benefiting from this new found love, as our hands make. For the first time in years, I have felt dizzy excitement over something that I created. Sounds kinda sad? It's not. I have a lot to be grateful for in my world, but this feeling is different. Even though so far the final products are worn by others, everything about the making is for me, Martine. It's not about the role of mother, social worker, or wife. Just, ME!
Back to the sweater. This project is different to the cardigans for a few reasons. The knitting was kick-started on a Thelma and Louise style car trip from Melbourne to Darwin, where I got to be me for the first time since having kids, and then came with me on our family holiday in Darwin. Not long after that trip, my trusted master went on a lengthy family sojourn for six months and I had to work the tricky bits out alone. I had to sit with how I process things and work out ways of breaking through my expectations, my fear of making mistakes, my frustration in still being a learner, procrastination...ugh.
So, here's what happened. I got stuck when I had to start the shoulders. What the hell was I supposed to do with those floppy ends? How was I to sew them down to create create arm holes and an envelope neck? The designer assumed I knew. My first strategy was to put the project down and distract myself with making two cardigans. My poor boy, he was so understanding, he knew I was stuck. I then got sick of not knowing and googled everything I could, read what felt like hundreds of blog posts etc. Then I had that light bulb moment, when I realised that I had to let go of the fear, and actually just give it go. So - lesson 1- often it doesn't make sense until you are doing it. Big. Then I read the pattern again and she did tell me how to do it. I just wasn't ready to trust that I could do it. Very big moment.
From here I was OK. I just worked through each challenge. I did the first armhole three times. I did the whole arm twice because I somehow lost a ball of yarn and had to rethink colours. I redid the short rows on the second sleeve.
Then one final stumble - I started beating myself up over the time. "By the time I finish it will be summer" and the realisation that I have worked through so much and "it might not even fit him by winter". The filthy mood this created slowed the jumper down again. l processed these thoughts quietly and then woke up one morning early in December and decided I would finish it regardless - "if it doesn't fit, I'm pulling it". BANG. Liberating - lesson 2 - I know how to do it now so why not. Feelings of exhilaration came once I got over this hurdle, because it meant completion.
Who would have thought that in making stuff you get to know yourself better?
The good news is it does fit, and even has some room for growth. His comment was "mum, I really love it! I can't believe how nice it is."
The chosen pattern, is 'Softly (you)' by Solenn Couix-Loarer, the yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed DK in Clay for the main body and Seafarer for the stripes and sleeves.