Tonight I started the little sleeves, the final stages, of a new cardigan for Alice. I stopped to reflect, as I did so, on various aspects of what I was doing.
I’ve been away a lot lately and so it feels like a real treat to be at home on a Saturday night. We’ve had roast chicken, a bottle of chardonay and some relaxing after a day spent doing loads of re-organising. I almost, very nearly, cast on something new tonight. Well, when I say almost, I mean I thought about it. I didn’t go so far as to actually choose new yarn or even a project. I just flirted with the idea that I could, if I wanted to, start something new. It feels like everything I’ve got on the needles at the moment was started with travelling in mind. Something that was either easy or transportable or both.
And for a moment I struggled with boredom, which is just crazy. Each of the garments I have on the needles, and really there are only four taking my attention, was once an exciting beginning. Each of them was begun in a fit of love for the new. And a matter of weeks later, my desire to get stuff finished means they’re all feeling a bit tedious.
But I sat tonight with Alice’s little cardigan, a pattern I’ve made before, and decided to remember that it was once exciting. I began it on my second afternoon in Bendigo. I chose the yarn at the Bendigo Woollen Mills shop. I sat on the floor of our little cottage and cast it on with that sense of urgency that comes when you have new wool, needles and that itch. And I thought I’d finish it quickly. Two weeks later and it’s been lingering. I worked on it in the beautiful Shamrock pub with Drk on that Thursday afternoon and I fell in love with the pale blue wool.
So I started the sleeves this evening and thought of how this cardigan began, and who it’s for. When I thought of how the pale blue will look with that silky white hair of hers, my feelings changed. I thought of her precious little arms and the way the cardigan will button up over her pudgy tummy. And I thought of how when I put it on her, she won’t even notice and that made me smile. I don’t think we dress babies or toddlers for their gratification. I mean, we want them to be warm and they are warm when we put them in woollens, but the look, the beauty, is for us. Not for the babies.
Sometimes after I’ve put a new handknit on Alice for the first time, I’ve had a second’s pause when I’ve realised that I almost expected her to look thrilled with the garment. She won’t, of course. She’s too young for that. But it’s nice to imagine that what you’ve dressed them in registers somewhere in their minds as good. As comforting. As loving. My nephew has received knitted goods from me for enough of his six years now to know that when Aunty Bells gives him something woollen, it’s a good thing.
So even though I’m finding tiny sleeves ever so slightly dull, the knowledge that they’re the casing for those small, pale arms is enough to remind me why I started in the first place and to remember that every item I make started life as something new and exciting.
Here’s Alice watching her cousin at his rugby game last week. She ran around like a mad child, but paused to turn and say hi.