Madeline mittens in The Knitter

30 Sep

This week the October issue of The Knitter came out, and with it, my first ever published knitting pattern – Madeline mittens.

I am of course, totally thrilled about it, but there is a small story behind it too.

The pattern was inspired by the poppies worn on Remembrance Day, and for me, is a homage to my grandmother, whose father was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme (July 1, 1916) when she was just five and a half years old.

It was an event which blighted her childhood and, even 90 years on, still clearly affected her very deeply on the rare occasions she mentioned it. The last day they had together he took her out to London Zoo, while on leave from France. She never saw him again.

Nana had been a daddy’s girl and the middle child, and spent the rest of her childhood in the shadow of by her older brother, and her younger sister – the spoilt baby of the family. I sometimes wonder what she would have been like had he survived. Happier, certainly. Of course, if that awful day hadn’t happened, her life would have taken another path, and maybe I wouldn’t be here now, writing this. Life is funny like that.

Nana’s story is not unusual – so many brave young men died in the First World War, and so many on that terrible first day of the Somme Offensive. But, as she taught me how to knit when I was all of seven years old (a whole year and a half older than she was when her father died), I felt like this first pattern should count for something. Like me, she loved fairlisle especially.

She died four years ago, around the time I started knitting pretty seriously again. I know she would have been pleased to see me doing something like this, and we were very close, so this one is for her. The name of the pattern comes from the book ‘Madeline‘, which I adored when I was about the same age. My mum got the connection as soon as I showed her the published pattern.

The design uses traditional (Scandinavian and Fair Isle) stranded colourwork and Jamieson and Smith 2 ply jumper weight – a traditional Shetland yarn, which is one of my favourites.

It’s ‘sticky’ wool, which makes it perfect for stranded knitting and this is the second time I’ve used it, although my J&S stash is absolutely enormous – at least 5,000m. I have more fairisle projects in my head than I’ll probably ever get the chance to knit!

My next pattern for The Knitter will be in the November issue, so I’ll post pix of that as soon they let me. You may be glad to hear the story behind it isn’t quite so maudlin!

(c)All photographs copyright of The Knitter.

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