Tree and Leaf

While I’ve been on radio silence for a few months, I’ve been knitting like crazy. I love how transportable knitting is, as I’ve had a lot of long commutes lately – I also knit in class, depending on what the class is (this does not work for some things, as I’m sure you can imagine). And what with it being winter and all (second day of spring today!) my penchant has been for big, thick, bulky-weight knitting, as seen here.

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This jumper is… loosely related to the famous owls sweater. At least, in my head it’s related, but I looked at the pattern maybe once int he making process, and proceeded to ignore what it said, so maybe that’s stretching things a bit. It’s made with a lovely 12-ply yarn my parents gave me for Christmas (both my birthday and Christmas are completely out of season for this kind of knit – but I selected the yarn, and yarn waits). I already have a sweater with owls on, so while I like the shape of it, I wanted to come up with my own pattern for the yoke, and the colour immediately suggested trees/leaves/botanical ideas. So that is what I have. The leaves come from an old stitch dictionary of my grandmother’s, but I could not find a satisfactory tree pattern anywhere. So I made it up. This was not as easy as that sentence sounds – I went through rather a lot of variations before I came up with something I liked at all, and even at that I think the tree looks best under a little more tension than most of these have (the best one is on the back, because it’s just a little more stretched out than the others). It was quite frustrating, because I was sure my ideal pattern was out there somewhere – I managed to find photos of Aran sweaters with the tree I wanted, but never with a pattern along with it; but I’m happy with this one.

I also put in a lot of effort into the shaping and planning of it. I wasn’t really sure how much yarn I had, and I spent a lot of time agonising over what length to make this, so I cast on the sleeves first – for fewer decisions – and knit them, then did a provisional cast-on at the waist/lower bust and knitted up, did all of the yoke before picking up the waist stitches and knitting down to the button band. I used all of my yarn. I had a 20cm tail left at the end of the cast-off row, and that was it. I am considering ripping back just the bottom band and knitting again on smaller needles, as it’s a little loose at the moment, but otherwise I’m happy.

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It goes with a surprisingly large proportion of things that I own, including the things that don’t fit into my usual colour choices. In fact, I’m wearing it at the moment. It also co-ordinates with my stethoscope, just in case I ever feel the need for that. (There are days – my stethoscope is green, my pounamu (greenstone necklace) is green, and if I’m in the hospital and also wearing any green clothing it looks like I only ever wear green.)

I (and also my whole family) am a huge Tolkien fan, and this top reminds me somewhat of the small book “Tree and Leaf” that is one of his non-Middle Earth writings. There is a story in it about a man whose life work is painting a tree with meticulously detailed leaves, and eventually gets taken to live in the area with a real tree that matches his painting exactly, and to look after the real tree. I love the storytelling in this story, the gentleness, and the idea of living with what he has created. So it pleases me that I can think of it every time I wear my knitting. Especially because this is also a creative endeavour.

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Immediately after making this one, I moved on to knitting my sister an actually-owls sweater, out of some very similar yarn given to my mum by a work friend. It’s about two shades darker than mine, but more than once I was knitting on it, while wearing my own new sweater, and had someone stare at me strangely and ask if I was knitting what I was wearing…

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By the time I’d finished both of these, I was thoroughly sick of stocking stitch. Good for knitting in a movie theatre – say – but really rather tedious for two whole sweaters, even in such bulky yarn. So on it is to more exciting projects! I’m knitting lace now…

And the obligatory garden photos! It’s spring, and it’s exciting.

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