Learning to knit on your own: Part 2

After my first blog on how to knit, here’s part 2 instructions and a recount of my progress.

Pulling it together

Once I had a few fistfuls of granny squares, the game was to work out how many I really needed to cover my upper body. I found a crusty imperial tape measure that kept crinkling back up, and noted my measurements.

Bloody unsquare. By my reckoning…I had to make 2 pieces of 4×3 squares, back and front, and as there was nothing for it but to run with the square theme, I thought I’d go for a Tudor neck line – low and square – conveniently. That meant I’d need some straps, roughly 5 squares in length, to join the back to the front and hold the whole thing up. It still felt foggy, so I laid a thermal top out on the floor and played with the squares like jigsaw pieces, to get a better feel for where the hips and boobs actually came. So much for the theory.

Lining the squares up on a thermal top

Things complicated a bit because my squares were not identical in shape or texture, with some curly like fortune fish and others flat and dense like a piece of toast. You blithely think if you knit 20 stitches by 20 stitches you’ll get a square, but no. You get varying degrees of squashed-square, depending on the pattern, so I took my first Garter stitch square as my template and laid all subsequent squares up to it, so things turned out  square-ISH. It seemed sensible to have the dense ones around the edge to help keep the shape and have the springy, concertina-type ones on the waist and boobs to make the garment pinch in. I got carried away and toyed with a sleeve but had to retreat as it ended up as an unsightly bodge under the pit.

Abortive attempt at a sleeve

2 huge vintage needles, (for darning?), amongst my grandmother’s haberdashery collection, suddenly took centre stage after, ooh, 50 years of doing nothing. Thus I stitched the squares together using the tail ends from casting on and off. Verrry fulfilling part of the process. Thankfully, wool is so forgiving of irregularities, you can persuade it to fit snugly and get away with a good deal of error.


But the neck looked a bit Bruegel. I had seen how I could get the wool to make a sausage shape with the corrugated reverse rib square photographed in Part 1, and cast on 120 stitches on the smaller needles to create a tight roll. I plundered from the cream wool because my all-blue effect felt too heavy. Two Toulouse chipolatas later I had a quite decent neck trimming, making me look and feel less peasant, more regal. Putney for you.

Finally, I thought some decorative somethings in cream in the body of the gilet would break up the blue, and crosses suggested themselves as a suitable solution, at the corners of the squares, pretending to keep them in place. The dozens of little decisions occurred at all times of the day and night and felt each time like a rivulet undamming itself. From appreciating all the effort that goes in to other people’s clothing designs, it feels satisfying to attempt the journey myself.

My creation has had a number of airings and has been a jolly talking point, with an inquiry about a commission even. Just as Cinderella last night, my neighbour couldn’t help remarking.

Sadly my daughter’s knitting project is on hold till after her exams, but I’m hopeful we can one day soon spend evenings chatting and knitting when all the pressure is off.

My next adventure is going to be a poncho. I looked at free patterns and it might as well be Python. So I’m inspiring myself from a boxy shape and will make it up as I go along.

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