the story of a tired old aran who became a rosy cardigan
There once was an aran. Oh, she was a beautiful aran. Ever so much effort and time and love had been poured into her cables. And she was deliciously cosy. So cosy that her owner wore her and wore her and wore her and wore her. This lovely aran had gardened, walked the dog on the beach, chopped the firewood, cooked and spent many hours leaning on her right elbow. That’s right, her right elbow. It was her owner’s favourite way to sit, leaning on his right elbow.
But after many many years of love and wearing, the aran began to look a wee bit battered. Her cuffs were unravelling. There were strange splotches staining bits of her here and there. As for that right elbow – it was looking mighty thin. In fact, her knitter decided the aran was looking too tatty and it was time to say goodbye. The owner was most piqued! What was he to do without his beloved aran! I’ll knit you a new one, said his knitter. And that was that.
Without further adieu, the aran found herself being shoved into a plastic bag and dropped off at the Brotherhood of St. Lawrence. Oooo-eeer! She was so terribly nervous. Would she be unravelled!? Would she be taken home and given to a cat to lay on!? Would she never be worn again!?
Then, along came Lily. She spotted the aran and her beautiful time and love filled cables straight away. Hmmm …. Lily dearly loves all hand knitted, woollen treasures and so finds herself adopting cardigans of every shade and style. But another aran sweater? Everyone in Bootville already had a thrifted aran sweater. In fact, Lily had two! Nor was she overly fond of ribbed bands on the waist or neck. They just didn’t suit her – they made her look a bit like a puffer fish. Not a good look. But oh, she couldn’t leave thisaran behind.
And besides, Lily had been dreaming of an aran cardigan. Mmhm! Preferably a rosy coloured one. With liberty covered buttons. Could she? Could she really turn this tired but wonderful old aran into a rosy coloured aran cardigan with liberty coloured buttons?
Well maybe! With her new found steeking skills, courtesy of the ever-so-clever Ms. Kate Davies, she might just be able to. Home came the old, nervous aran. First step – off with the ribbed waist, neck and cuffs. Each live stitch was carefully picked up and cast off again. The aran shivered, this was really quite scary – she expected to unravel at any moment.
Then, Lily crocheted the steeking reinforcement down the front – missing the middle the first time and having to do it again. The old aran was a bit perturbed. Did this strange knitter really know what she was doing? Adding crochet? Didn’t this strange knitter know an aran was KNITTED! Couldn’t she tell when something was off centre? Clearly not!
Snip, snip, snip! Within moments of feeling those stork scissors tickling her stitches, the old aran found herself falling open. Oh dear! Oh dear! This would surely be the end! But no, those red crocheted stitches held all the cables lovely and firm, just as the ever-so-clever Ms. Davies had promised. Lily was quite excited – all this steeking fun again so soon, and she had barely had to knit a stitch to get there.
Over the next few nights, Lily carefully knitted round the raw edges of the steek with a freshly bought skein of 12 ply. Then, painstakingly, she picked up all those stitches, starting from the underarm point of the waist and working her way along to the front, up the front, around the neck, down the front, and back around to the underarm point, knitting a lovely firm icord all the way. It took hours!
But those wee cuffs – they didn’t take long at all. One morning’s spring sunshine on the garden swing and they were done. The aran began to feel so much more comfy – perhaps she really would be a much loved rosy aran cardigan after all! She was gently washed, laid to soak in the bathtub, and finally squashed into a bath of rosy, rosy Ashford red on top of the stove. There she simmered for an hour, feeling that warm pretty colour soak into her tired old fibres.
After a rather startling rinse off on the shower floor – which she still declares was rather undignified – the aran was plopped into the washer, rinsed one last time and slowly spun. She was a bit nervous when she was pulled back out – would Lily like her? Oh yes! Very much! Lily carefully laid the rosy aran cardigan onto a bed of towels to dry in the warm kitchen over night. And the next morning, the lovely fresh cardigan even had a sunny spell on a towelling bed on the clothesline outside. Life certainly had been transformed.
Buttons were made – courtesy of a packet of vintage covered button pieces and a grandmother-in-law’s liberty blouse that no longer fitted anyone. Finally, as the clock struck midnight, 6 days after she’d first come home with Lily, the aran was ready for her new life.
Ah! she was rosy and cosy and soft and clean with the prettiest of flowers planted down her steeked front. Perhaps one day, the rosy aran cardigan would need a patch on the right elbow, put for now, that thin spot is holding just fine.
And Lily – well, dyeing is certainly an art form that requires an awful lot of practice, but she loves her new rosy cardigan. Good thing she lives in Melbourne where she gets to wear it regularly, even in the last weeks of spring! In fact, I’ve no doubt, she’ll wear it all year round and the two of them – the rosy aran cardigan and her Lily will live happily ever after :-)