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May 26, 2010

As I write this, at least 3,493 people have knitted the Central Park Hoodie by Heather Lodinsky! That’s the current total on Ravelry, anyway. And having just completed one for my daughter, I can only say I’m not surprised. I think this is the best thing I have made since I resumed knitting a couple of years ago.

A lot of things came together in this project that sum up for me why knitting is so important. First of all, there was the purpose of this sweater. Miriam was about to set off for New Zealand, a trip that she has worked really hard to afford, doing two jobs for several months and being impressively disciplined about not spending money. The trip has a symbolic significance for our family, too: she is the oldest of our offspring and this journey really marks her striking out on her own before she goes to university and then on to the world of employment. For me, sending her off with something handknitted was not just about making sure she wraps up warm in those chilly South Island breezes. The hoodie is more than that: it is a way of saying that we hope that our often very flawed attempts to give her a good start in life will stand her in good stead. It’s a way of giving her something tangible to wrap herself up in, just as we want her to be wrapped up in our love even though she is far away.

Then there was the community aspect. Every time I knit something, I am delighted by the way the item forges connections with people. In this case, when I took the hoodie into The Wool Baa in Sheffield to buy some buttons, I immediately got into conversation with a couple of other knitters about it. Then the lovely Jill, who runs the shop, spent ages trying to find me the perfect buttons. What’s more, when we discovered that my first choice would add up to the admittedly rather horrifying sum of £10.40, she refused to let me buy them! She said to buy the toggles as a temporary measure, but in fact Miriam loves them, so they’ll stay.

There was also the Ravelry group, the Central Park Hoodie KAL. More than once I posted a query there and each time I got responses within hours! I should especially thank the Knit Engineer, who seems to know this pattern inside out. It was thanks to her that I solved the problem of how to block the hood.

The construction of this garment is such that you knit and block the back and two front pieces, then sew them together and pick up stitches to knit the button/buttonhole bands and hood. I couldn’t work out how to get the hood to the same soft and beautiful blocked quality as everything else until I discovered KnitEngineer’s balloon technique:

Essentially, you blow up the balloon to head size and fit the dampened hood over it. This also has the useful effect of reducing any undesirable pointiness.

I made the hoodie about 3 inches longer than the pattern suggests, and at Miriam’s request I also lengthened the cuffs and left a gap when sewing up. Behold: thumbholes!

Raveled here.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2010 9:44 pm

    Wonderful story and it turned out gorgeous! I wasn’t crazy about the pattern before, but after seeing how soft the cables look on yours I’ll have to add it to my queue! And your daughter looks so comfy and protected in it : )

  2. JoannaD permalink
    May 27, 2010 7:42 am

    I hope you enjoy knitting it as much as I did!

  3. Susie permalink
    May 27, 2010 7:04 pm

    This post almost made me cry. Beautiful.
    You’re so talented mum! xxxxxxxx

  4. May 27, 2010 8:12 pm

    This is a lovely post. I’m sure your girl will take comfort from her mum-made hoodie when the wind blows, and for a long, long time.

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