The problem with a new blog is knowing where to start. I’ve been knitting for a good few years now, even if I’ve not been writing about it; so my head is a tangled mess of woolly thoughts and projects, past and present, all at the tips of my fingers as they hover over my keyboard, ready to spill out on to the page. It feels a bit like the ridiculously long queue of projects I’ve got lined up on Ravelry: every time I look I feel overwhelmed by all the woolly loveliness and I don’t know where to turn first. Maybe if I quit my day job and knit at full speed for the next 50 years, I’ll get to the bottom of it one day.
Anyway, when giving this some thought my mind kept wandering back to the same project: my wedding. This isn’t a surprise really – not only was it a significant milestone in my life, but the knitting that surrounded my wedding escalated to fairly epic proportions. It’s my biggest knitting project, having completely dominated my knitting world for most of 2015.
My now-husband Alex proposed to me in June 2014 on Papa Westray, a remote Orkney island. (The day after, he took me to another of the islands, North Ronaldsay – home of the seaweed eating North Ronaldsay sheep, and the North Ronaldsay Yarn company who operate a mini-mill from the island’s lighthouse. That’s a story for another day, but the fact that he worked a yarn related island visit into the trip says he’s a keeper!)
As soon as we arrived home from the trip, we started planning the wedding and a date was set: 5th September 2015. After sorting the major things that you need to arrange to, you know, have a wedding… church, reception venue, food, dress… I turned my attention to knitting. I decided early on that I wanted my wedding to involve a LOT of knitting (how could it not?) So, together with my fellow knitter and bridesmaid, Claire, we started knitting…
The first thing that I decided on knitting were the wedding favours. The standard sweets, whisky miniatures or, more recently, teabags all seemed too clichéd, and I wanted something different. I loved the idea of our guests going home with something to remember our wedding day by that was personal and that I had taken the time to knit.
The result was 90 miniature hedgehogs, knitted over a period of 6 months (did I mention that I work full time and am also studying for a Masters part time?) Alex and I are both really fond of hedgehogs, so they seemed like a cute idea.
I based the hedgehogs on Julie Williams’ Little Oddment Hedgehog pattern, but I converted the pattern to knit in the round so that I didn’t have to sew each hedgehog up, making them neater and quicker to knit. The feet had to be knit separately and sewn on, and the eyes had to be embroidered; so they were still kind of fiddly to make.
I didn’t want the hedgehogs to all be the same, so although I stuck to the ‘normal’ browns you expect of a hedgehog, I mixed and matched yarns of varying shades and textures: from natural undyed to specks of colour or strands of glitter; from bluefaced leicester to alpaca. I liked the thought of guests being surprised by their hedgehog: different from their neighbours and that little bit more unique. I won’t lie – the starting a different ball of yarn also gave me something to look forward to and kept me sane when I was faced with repetitively knitting the same hedgehog pattern 90 times!
After seeing Alan Dart’s Wedding Cake pattern (I love Alan Dart’s patterns) in passing a few years previously, I knew one day it would have to be in my wedding. So, now that I was actually in the position of planning a wedding, it wasn’t long before I found myself searching once again for this pattern.
I decided just to knit the bride and groom and use it for our cake topper; but with some adjustments to make it look more like us! I gave the bride my ginger hair and vintage beehive hairstyle, I knitted the dress with sleeves, and I knitted a sunflower bouquet; whilst the groom got Alex’s grey tweed suit jacket and a kilt.
Whilst I was busy churning out miniature hedgehogs, my bridesmaid Claire set to knitting a big stack of bunting for decoration. Exclusively a crocheter prior to this wedding, I owe Claire big time for her dedication to learning the skills needed to do all this knitting for me, and she is now an expert at knitting letters in intarsia. I am so very grateful!
I wanted to have plenty of knitted accents and decorations featured throughout the wedding so that the true essence of me as a knitter came through in the day, and I think the sight of knitted bunting everywhere achieved that perfectly.
Not technically featured in the wedding day but just as amazing, the other project Claire worked on was a set of knitted sashes for my hen party weekend. Completely uninterested in the garish and tacky dress customs of hen parties in the UK, my bridesmaids knew right from the start that we needed something different and more my style for the hen weekend. I wanted to feel special and ‘like a hen’, but I didn’t want to traipse around Edinburgh in a cheap bright pink sash and ‘L’ plates. The obvious answer was knitted sashes and crocheted hens…
When I look back at my wedding now, it was one of the best days of my life and that is, in part, down to the fact that every last detail just felt like ‘us’. All the hard work that we both put in to making the day our own is what really made the day special (I should point out that whilst I was spending all of my time knitting, Alex was programming – he is an engineer / nerd and spent the lead up to the wedding secretly making a laser projector show to go with his groom’s speech. Check it out on his blog).