Gemma-Rose is delighted. I finished knitting her cardigan. I’ve even sewn it up and she is wearing it. That’s two cardigans I’ve made for her this winter. That might not sound a lot to more experienced knitters, but it’s a record for me.
Don’t you just love that moment when you trim the last piece of wool and then spread out the garment for a good look? I also love shouting, “Gemma-Rose! I’ve finished your cardigan. Do you want to try it on?”
Of course she did. A couple of minutes later, she returned with a huge smile on her face. “I love it, Mum! Thank you!” I think Gemma-Rose is actually starting to have confidence in my ability to finish what I start. I am amazed myself!
As I looked at Gemma-Rose in her new cardigan, I wondered what she reminded me of. A liquorice all sort? No. Some other kind of sweet? I couldn’t decide.
“Go and show the other girls,” I encouraged.
Gemma-Rose was soon back. “Imogen says I look like a Neenish tart.”
A Neenish tart? Yes! That’s exactly what I was trying to think of. It’s just as well Gemma-Rose doesn’t mind looking like a cake. I think she is the most gorgeous Neenish tart I have ever seen.
“What are you going to knit next, Mum?” Every member of my family was hoping it was his or her turn for a knitted garment. They all looked at me with hopeful eyes.
“You haven’t knitted me anything for a long time,” pleaded Andy.
“You’re too big. Think of all the stitches...” I replied. “I remember the last jumper I made you. It took me so long to knit and then we had that huge disaster.”
Yes, I remember that large cream Aran jumper I started just before Andy and I were married. It was an ambitious project: loads of stitches and a complicated Aran pattern. It took me months to complete it. Actually, I think Andy thought I’d never finish it. Then a few weeks before his birthday I thought I’d surprise him. In quiet moments when Andy wasn’t at home, I knitted as fast as I could. The night before his birthday, it was finished. I wrapped it up and proudly gave it to him the next day.
Andy was delighted with his jumper. He wore it constantly for a couple of weeks and then I prised it off him so I could wash it. And that was the end of the jumper. Once immersed in water, it grew and grew and grew… I was heartbroken. All that time and effort. The wool was best quality and I’d even followed the washing instructions perfectly. I just couldn’t understand what went wrong. I decided then and there that I’d never knit another man-sized jumper.
Never? Well, maybe I will relent one day. I really would like to make something very special for the love of my life… but not right now.
On Saturday Andy drove me to town to buy some more wool. I came home with 6 balls of dark purple and 2 balls of grey/mauve wool.
“How would you like a jumper like this?” I asked Sophie, showing her a pattern for a hooded jumper.
Of course Sophie likes the idea of me knitting her the next jumper. I think she can’t believe it’s her turn.
I have begun knitting. It’s growing fast and I am thinking, “If I knit every spare moment, how quickly can I finish it?” I can already imagine Sophie wearing the jumper.
I also happen to have some multi-coloured wool in pastel shades that would look perfect with plain pink ribbed trimmings… But one jumper at a time.
So I’m off to knit a few more rows. But before I do that I’m going give my gorgeous Neenish tart a big hug.
By the way, Neenish tarts seem likely to be an Australian creation. They have a pastry base and a jam and cream filling. Half of each tart is topped with chocolate icing and the other has pink (or white) coloured icing. There are lots of different recipes. Here’s a really fast one from Woman's Day, if you’d like to make some of your own. Even the more complicated recipes are much quicker to make than Neenish tart cardigans!