Raglan-sleeved Fair Isle jumper No 13

Jumper with Fair Isle band Knitting pattern, Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Book 5 (2013): Two colour raglan sweater.
Fair Isle Pattern: 200 Fair Isle Designs by Mary Jane Mucklestone (Search Press 2011) Design No 193

Well, now I think about it not all of the jumpers I’ve knitted to this pattern have Fair Isle bands. But, doing a brief count I think there were no more than 4 that were plain – the first one certainly was, – a sweet sugar almond confection in pale blue with pale green sleeves, made in late 2014 for the toddler that is now a strapping 7 year old with second dentition incisors to prove it.  Lockdown, a great bonus of gifted time, has enabled me to think about, design and make presents for friends whose past kindnesses I may never have been able to mark in this way. This jumper is for one of the grandsons of a very good friend who was extremely kind to me a few years ago. I shall start on one for the younger grandson soon and then send them together – possibly in time for her birthday. (Not so odd a present for a doting granny, though I will send her something for herself too!)

Detail Jumper with Fair Isle band Knitting pattern, Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Book 5 (2013): Two colour raglan sweater.
Fair Isle Pattern: 200 Fair Isle Designs by Mary Jane Mucklestone (Search Press 2011) Design No 193

Daughter No 2, part on holiday from land mine clearance in Cambodia and part distance working (there’s a lot of paperwork), has also caught the knitting bug but, much more adventurous than me, is knitting something for an adult. The experience has not been without its challenges and from time to time I’ve had emergency late night phone calls asking if I can explain some abstruse instructions of a pattern I haven’t seen, can’t imagine and can’t even work out what part of the garment the overactive decreasing might refer to. Fortunately she was/is just a short jaunt away from a newly reopened Loop and there all was explained in no time at all by the sort of staff that remind one how shopping online has its limits.

Swatches of Fair Isle design No 193 from
‘200 Fair Isle Designs’ by Mary Jane Mucklestone (Search Press 2011) Design No 193

We in Cheltenham are equally glad our local John Lewis has reopened and, desiring it shall remain open at a time when several well established branches are closing, we have only been too happy to go in and do a physical search for what we needed. Hats – well caps – have been a great problem recently for my husband. That is, they have been a great problem for me. With eyes sensitive to light he needs something. Sometimes sunglasses work, sometimes they don’t. He had a perfectly nice cap which his elder son bought him but then he lost it.  Floppy sun hats bought at Lords (the cricket ground) are ok in the back garden and around a cricket pitch but look ridiculous on the high street and anyway after years of wear are pretty disgusting. During outings to the shops on his own he came back with a) a baseball cap (! aged cleric in baseball cap – No, No, No) and then b) a rather oddly shaped cap which I would call flat except that the fabric rose to a button-topped summit suggesting the head beneath might be alien rather than human.  All ghastly. A new shop on the Promenade devoted to race-goers’ tweed outfits (closed for lockdown almost the minute it opened last year)  offered a single possibility in a window display of patchwork tweed caps but tweed is very limiting as to season and we (I) would much prefer something less shouty and more … er, plain. (The same shop was previously mentioned in this blog as having been broken into in order to get into the jewellers next door). With hope in our hearts we went to John Lewis and there was indeed the hat that Goldilocks would have chosen. Navy, study cotton, well cut with not too much peak, it fit the head perfectly, could be folded easily to go in the pocket and wasn’t at all expensive. I may even buy him the one in black when they have his size in. A few days ago while out, he bumped into a fellow retired art historian/curator friend and was pleased to see they sported similar understated tasteful headgear.

Fair Isle Pattern No 193 200 Fair Isle Designs by Mary Jane Mucklestone (Search Press 2011) Design No 193

I don’t have the head for hats, which is strange as my mother was a great hat lover and when I was little I remember would buy one or two new hats a year. I don’t suppose she was in the habit of rushing out of the house at a minute’s notice as we tend to do nowadays for she went nowhere without a hat and the hat putting on would take some minutes standing in front of the hall mirror while little side curls and waves of hair (of a hair style very like the queen’s) would be teased out over or under the hat to be worn that day.  If Russian style fur, most hair would be tucked under while velvet swathed turbans called for much tweaking with a tail comb to ensure just the right amount of curl was visible. Hats had to match coats but were also worn with what my mother called costumes –  suits of skirt and short jacket. Hat pins were necessary and were also called into service in the kitchen to test sponge cakes (forks or skewers which I tend to use would have made holes far too big to countenance.)

Fair Isle Pattern: 200 Fair Isle Designs by Mary Jane Mucklestone (Search Press 2011) Design No 193

I think my mother did try me with hats when I was very little, but very little evidence of this remains. All my family photographs have been lost and now all I have is a vivid memory of a few showing me in head coverings. Winter scenes with lots of snow had  a distant me sitting insecurely on a sledge enveloped in camel – coat with leather belt buckle and big knobbly buttons and a pointy hood – which rendered almost everything about me practically unrecognisable. Another memorable photograph showed me visiting Father Christmas in a Nottingham department store. I’m in another serviceable coat, this time a navy gaberdine mac, all buttoned up and belted (once again, none of this flapping coat business) and standing very starchy and stiff like Watteau’s Pierrot. My hat is also similar to Pierrot’s  but worn more horizontal in the manner of Father Brown. There may have been a jaunty sailor style hat to go with a very smart blue and white coat, which I have vague memories of admiring, turning it round on my fingers and patting it onto my head but I can’t remember ever actually wearing it outside. May be to church – once! For some years at primary school I had machine knitted hood/bonnets which clung tight to the head on an Alice band and usually had some sort of pom pom at the back. I quite liked these, enjoyed going to chose a new one each autumn in the local hat shop and probably wore them because everyone else did and because they did keep you warm. Otherwise, In the 1960s, I thought longingly for a while about one of those fur bonnets with pom pom ties worn by people like Lulu or Sandie Shaw but in the end I saved my money and bought a Mary Quant coat from Richards Shop coat instead.

Knitting Pattern: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Book 5 (2013): Two colour raglan sweater

Fair Isle Pattern:  200 Fair Isle Designs by Mary Jane Mucklestone (Search Press 2011) Design No 193

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  1. Amara Bray
    Posted May 23, 2021 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Well that was a lovely rabbit hole to go down, looking up Sandie Shaw, Pierrot, and Mary Quant (who I think you mentioned before). Thank you??

    • Mary Addison
      Posted May 24, 2021 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Very happy you enjoyed the little diversion the thought of hats sent me on.
      Do you know Mary Quant? She was very big here in the 1960s and the main British designer responsible for making the miniskirt so popular.
      Thinking of her simple designs still sets my heat racing!

  2. Amara Bray
    Posted May 23, 2021 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Those weren’t supposed to be question marks! I typed a heart emoji and I suppose the platform translated it!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted May 24, 2021 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Impressed you even use emojis!

  3. Posted May 24, 2021 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m a Hat Girl myself, inheritor of my Grandmama’s dictum that with a good hat and good shoes, you can get away with all sorts in between. The Australian has an akubra-ish thing which is very useful for shading the eyes, although I admit it looks odd in England!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted May 24, 2021 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      You must have the right sort of head, Rachel. Lucky you. There are times it would be nice to be able to wear a hat.
      Your Australian hat sounds fine for the back garden but possibly not beyond the front gate.

  4. ceci
    Posted May 25, 2021 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    What a great gift for a grandmother! It reminds me of a dear friend who knited a series of lovely little cardigans for our sons when they were infants – they were put away for a possible grandchild but the ones so far was a much larger infant and only wore one once. Perhaps we’ll get lucky and have another some day.


    • Mary Addison
      Posted May 25, 2021 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      I know the problem. Daughter No 1 has just sent me a photo of her daughter in a (too small) jumper I made for her brother which she could have worn a year ago but which they’ve only just found. (In spite of all those labelled boxes under the bed – of course the contents listed were listed, but only once you open the box!!!) Such is life

  5. Anne
    Posted June 8, 2021 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Oh! I had one of those fur hats with pom pom ties for Xmas way back then, also a bag with a fringe to go with it – that eventually turned into Mum’s peg bag! an yes Mary Quant was brilliant!!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted June 8, 2021 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

      What an ignominious end for a fashion item to end up as a peg bag!
      Still, very in the moment to recycle it.
      Lucky you with the fur hat.

  6. Anna
    Posted January 7, 2022 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    How pretty! Wonderful choice of colors. What yarn did you use?

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 8, 2022 at 1:30 am | Permalink

      Thank you. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.

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