If there’s one thing I’ve had time for over the past few months, it is my knitting. I think one has to be very, very careful when talking about knitting and mental health, or discussing craft activities in association with terms like “mindfulness”: mental illnesses are varied and complex, and craft is not, in any sense, a cure. But though never in itself a solution, knitting has always been incredibly restorative and helpful when dealing with my bipolar. For which committed knitter could deny that the basic activity of forming stitches creates its own flow and absorption ? For me, this absorption actively serves to counteract the racing or destructive thought patterns from which I suffer when I’m ill, and can often help me to manage and distance myself from them. The simple truth of the stitches pressing forward can also be immensely reassuring. When I’m ill, my mind continually swings between a horrible, grim stasis and a restless seeking for answers which aren’t there, but if my hands are knitting, I know am doing something, making something, producing something.
Somehow or other, my hands have actually produced quite a lot over the past few months, and I’ve now started working on some patterns. I’ve really enjoyed seeing Jane’s recent progress (Look! She made owls!) and some of the knitting I’ve been doing has been with the thought of a bold beginner like her in mind. But I’ve also made some really ‘me’ knits, like this design.
This is Seavaiger. It is a light, simple and comfortable pullover – something to throw on on a breezy day or cooler evening.
I’ve been in a bit of a stripe phase for a while, and Seavaiger extends some themes I explored in Dathan and Strodie: it has the latter’s simple, maritime-inspired style and a little of the former in its construction.
Worked bottom-up, Seavaiger skims the hips and lower body. Underarm shaping extends the sleeve caps and creates room around the chest.
This is a really comfortable garment, and the keys to that comfort are two-fold: the drape of the fabric, and the design of the shoulders.
Knitted in Milarrochy Tweed shades Smirr and Cowslip, the yarn is worked here at a gauge of 6 stitches to the inch – which makes the fabric very light and airy – and I’ve shaped the upper body with a series of German short rows, which allow the shoulders to slope with elegant ease toward the sleeve join.
When the top of the garment is finished with a simple boat neck, you end up with a classic stripey gansey with a modern shape that looks like this.
It’s a great shape to wear!
The pattern’s name – Seavaiger – is a Scots neologism (you might be familiar with the word stravaiger, or wayfarer, and a seavaiger is a seafarer). I first encountered the word in this inspiring musical collaboration between one of my favourite fiddle players, Chris Stout, Catriona McKay, composer Sally Beamish and the talented musicians of the Scottish ensemble. Definitely worth a listen.
I’ve released the pattern as a download today on Ravelry and we also have ready-to-knit kits (including yarn and pattern) in the KDD shop. If you are a Knitting Season subscriber, you’ll receive a free download code for the pattern as a club bonus, and if you aren’t a club subscriber, you can join here to receive 8 patterns already released and the 6 to come in September, alongside all our other club benefits.
Thanks to Tom for photography, to Frauke, our brilliant tech editor, to the rest of the KDD team for their hard work, and to all of you for reading and for being there.