Fair Isle Cardigan for a little girl 6-9 months and the sweetness of being able to smell

Cardigan with Fair Isle Yoke 6-9 months from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (pub 2001) Fair Isle design from Mary Jane Mucklestone’s ‘200 Fair Isle Designs.

Furlough – a great and generous attempt by the government to help retain jobs during the Covid-19 crisis – has led to inactive work emails and the realisation that you can no longer get in touch with lots of people you thought you knew because it had never till now seemed necessary to get their personal email as well. So it was that we took a while to discover that a friend of my husband’s who curated Fine Art at The Wilson (Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum) had had her baby – in fact she’d had a little girl a couple of months ago.  I rapidly reached for my knitting needles. Another knitting project was exactly what I needed after faffing around with odd bits of mending – replacing difficult zips in daughter No 2’s dresses before she flew off to a new job ridding Cambodia of landmines, cutting off hated handkerchief points from a new dress belonging to daughter No 1, oh yes and, how could I forget, while waiting for delivery of the linen fabric to complete my five embroidered cushion covers. (The first delivery had been sent to the wrong – and unknown – address and signed for by a name not on any of the paperwork, then negotiating the despatch of a replacement fabric had not been without its complications. Wonderful to relate, replacement linen has now arrived.)

Front yoke detail: Cardigan with Fair Isle Yoke 6-9 months from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (pub 2001) Fair Isle design from Mary Jane Mucklestone’s ‘200 Fair Isle Designs.

This cardigan is now my 8th using the same Debbie Bliss knitting pattern found in her book  Baby Cashmerino (pub 2002). As with my last one, I extended the Fair Isle to the whole of the yoke and once again based the design on a pattern found in Mary Jane Mugglestone’s  very useful ‘2oo Fair Isle Designs’.

Cardigan with Fair Isle Yoke 6-9 months from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (pub 2001) Fair Isle design from Mary Jane Mucklestone’s ‘200 Fair Isle Designs.

I write this as a new Test Match (cricket) series has begun, this time with Pakistan. We had an exciting win over  the West Indies, in the last series which only finished a scant week ago, so once again our lives are organised around the hours of play, with Test Match Special on the radio burbling on as background to domestic chores, knitting and sewing. As I clack away with my knitting needles, I like to think of the little knitted W.G.Grace figure, complete with a very splendid beard standing sentinel in the TMS commentary box. Now that cakes are no longer permitted as presents for the commentary team, it is good to know that some ingenious woman sent something knitted instead. I think of my brother enjoying the cricket, and undoubtedly being exasperated by the irrelevance of things like the knitting or the sampling of Marmite aftershave and body lotion, my image of him not a bit weaker for the fact that he’s been dead – and s0rely missed – for 3 years. For that matter I can still quite clearly see my father watching the cricket from his armchair in front of the television in our former family home (then every minute of the five days of each Test Match was shown on terrestrial television) –  and he’s been dead for nearly 20 years!

Cardigan with Fair Isle Yoke 6-9 months from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (pub 2001) Fair Isle design from Mary Jane Mucklestone’s ‘200 Fair Isle Designs.

But if memories are strong at the moment, memories of smells in particular are up there at the top of the list, probably because we are all extra conscious that losing one’s sense of smell is now a diagnostic sign of having Covid-19. I love perfume and most days my fingers play over my various bottles like a wine connoisseur choosing which wine to set aside for a meal. I had long forgotten Elizabeth Arden’s Blue Grass but it was the perfume my sister-in-law wore as a teenager and into her twenties and I suppose it has come to me on the wings of cricketing memories.  Although I adopted it too, it has always remained her perfume to me. It was my niece’s birthday last week and I had the sudden desire to buy her her mother’s former perfume (she died too early about 5 years ago)  but a bit of research revealed that gone are the wonderful bottles I remember – neither the frosted Lalique-style bottle with raised horse motifs, nor the clear glass one with dimpled sides and stems of blue grass in bright turquoise alongside the name in gold. Today’s perfume comes in an undistinguished glass bottle, tapered with rounded shoulders and silvery cap. The image of a horse’s head in trademark turquoise is actually quite good but overall it just doesn’t look nice enough for a present, so I didn’t buy it. It was also surprisingly cheap, which, superficial person that I am, put me off it further. But the thought that I will buy some is creeping upon me. I have such a desire to smell it again and compare it to that fleeting imagined aroma that comes in gentle bursts to me every now and then. If it works for me, then I’ll share it with her daughter … even though I don’t know whether she ever knew her mother use it.

Sample Fair Isle

A Philosophy lecturer at university once told the story of someone who having had an operation to give them the ability to smell for the first time, thereafter continually complained of distractions, until the doctor worked out it was his brain trying to process smells for the first time!

Design 140 from Mary Jane Mucklestone’s ‘200 Fair Isle Designs.


Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (pub 2001)


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Posted August 7, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been making a a stuffed cradle toy for a friend’s newborn – and when she arrived early, discovered that I must have been stitching the last bits when her mother went into labour. Talk about running it fine!

    I must admit that even the charred smell of next door’s barbecue has a reassuring feel to it these days!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted August 9, 2020 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Cutting it fine! – I sometimes think it’s my only mode of production (to which my family will attest).
      I’m sure the toy will be much appreciated.

  2. ceci
    Posted August 8, 2020 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Blue Grass was one of my all time favorite perfumes! I developed allergies to lots of perfume ingredients and haven’t been able to smell much for in the way of perfume for years, but now that you mention it I remember how much pleasure it gave me.


  3. Amara Bray
    Posted August 10, 2020 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    The story about the operation to gain a sense of smell is so interesting to me. My daughter was profoundly deaf, and had an operation to get electrical hearing with a cochlear implant. The first few weeks she would cry with noises, and we found out the same thing. Her brain hadn’t processed sound before and had to figure it out. In the beginning it had to differentiate it from pain. Which sounds awful now to me. But she ended up graduating from a regular high school and is in college now so I am grateful for the opportunities hearing has given her.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted August 10, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Amara, thank you for sharing your family’s experience with your daughter’s cochlear implant. It sounds like it happened at just the right time so she could more fully enjoy what school and college life had to offer – and so you too could be more easy about her moving to greater independence.

  4. Barbara
    Posted August 26, 2020 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    Do you know where I could get a copy of the Debbie Bliss Fair Isle cardigan – I’d love to make it for my 2yr old ganddaughter.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


  • August 2020
    M T W T F S S
    « Jul   Sep »
  • Photographs & Media

    Please attribute any re-uploaded images to Addison Embroidery at the Vicarage or Mary Addison and link back to this website. And please do not hot-link images!