Little Sleeves

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.

Garter Yoke for Alice

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.

garter  yoke

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.

Alice at the rugby



22 thoughts on “Little Sleeves

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  3. You’re 100% correct in your assessment. I knit for Marcus because I love the sight of him in my knitting, knowing they were made especially for him, and now he’s unique in another way. Well, that, and because little old ladies love to tell me how nice it is to see a child in handknits in winter!

  4. What a beautiful reminder to appreciate what we have and are doing and why – and not just when it comes to knitting! And of how much control we actually have with regard to our attitude and thoughts about our lives (and our knitting, obviously!) Thanks for that, it’s something I needed to hear.

  5. It is lovely (as always) and before you know it she will be a little older and a little wiser and going through Aunty’s stash and selecting yarn and patterns for you to work your magic into somethinf

  6. So true & so beautifully put. When I think of all the times I’ve bought clothes for friends’ little ones, I always hope that mum or dad will like it because outside of being warm or cool or comfortable, the child won’t care. At least Alice will have lots of lovely things to pass on when she has her own kids. I think that’s the especially nice thing about handknits.

  7. i was very impressed with the way you came home and cast it on straight away, i was sure you would have it fnished by the time we left bendigo! its such a lovely yarn and colour. for me, the joy of giving such beautiful hand made things nearly always trumps the reception. i know your alice and willem things are always loved and appreciated.

  8. wonderful words, bells! yes, it’s so easy to get distracted and want to start making a million other things. so smart to reflect on the motivation for an existing project and get excited about it again. i’m sure those little sleeves will fly off the needles, especially in that gorgeous yarn, and will soon be warming lovely little alice.

  9. A timely post Bells! I am trying to get a similar cardigan finished for Master Lucas and I am stuck on the second sleeve, feeling completely bored with the knit. Your post has made me think about his tiny little arms, and how he will be really warm when I have finished. Thanks for the kick in the pants I needed to get it done.

  10. what a lovely perspective, Bells.

    and the day will come, like it has for your nephew, when Alice will look down at her new cardigans and be thrilled and amazed at the talent of her Aunty Bells

  11. I do the same thing to encourage myself to finish! Try to remember why I loved it in the first place, and how great the finished product will be. It’s hard though – I think one of the pitfalls of ravelry is we all see SO MUCH stuff, and it all looks so great, it’s hard to avoid temptation…

  12. Reinvesting thr UFOs with love is a great way to motivate yourself to finish them! And whether she knows it or not, this little cardi will look great on her = the blue is perfect for her. And she’ll always be able to look back on the photos of her in her many knitted garments and know she was loved by a knitter right from the beginning.

  13. Bells, great words of wisdom. For me, the takeaway message is, If it’s lingering in the UFO pile, take it out, think of who it will warm/adorn/please, and finish it! My toddler sweater story: I made my FIRST real cardigan a few years back for my niece who was two at the time. I was so happy with the finished product and all the adults loved it too. But would she put it on? Granted, it was 90 degrees when she received it, but she never would wear it, and I can only hope that my step sister is hanging onto it to bequeath to a future niece or ?? who will really like it. So, cheers, and keep knitting for your darling Alice!

  14. You’re inspiring me to knit something for my Goobie. Which is a lovely thing. I’m sure Alice will look back, and think of all her hand-knits from Auntie Bells, and feel very loved. Kids her age don’t think about these things much – but they do later, and they remember.

    I forget who said it, but a handknit sweater is like a hug. They were right.

  15. I think even babies and toddlers have definite preferences. Well, mine do/did, anyway! Even Grace knows when I’ve knit something for HER, and she is either delighted, or not so much. I can’t put anything on her that she doesn’t want to wear. Sadly, she doesn’t so much like the Daisy Cardigan I made her–something about the picot edging on the cuffs bugs her. But she loves the sweetheart sweater. She never wore one sweater I made except to model it, and she would still be wearing her snow boots if I hadn’t hid them once it became much, much too hot for winter boots. All this to say that if Alice is wearing your sweaters, it’s because she likes to wear your sweaters. 🙂

  16. What a wise woman you are – to re-invest the project with love and excitement. It’s a beautiful, beautiful sweater and it will look SO nice on her.

    Enjoy this while you can. Teens are so freaking picky that they won’t wear what you made unless it perfectly matches their idea of what is “cool.” Alice just not noticing how nice her sweater is but wearing it anyway? That’s a WIN.

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