I have many, many things to thank my old Mum for, but one of the most important for me is that she passed on her passion and ability to be creative, to be practical and to make things. She was an excellent knitter and dressmaker, was a dab hand at soft furnishings and loved to craft. At home there was almost always a background sound of clicking needles or the hum of a sewing machine. She even put herself through college as a mature student (in her 40’s) in order to fulfil her dream of being a needlework teacher.
Hence you may have heard me talk about making various items that I take on camino. My backpack-cover-come-shoulder-cape, my visor, walking shorts and trousers, skirt and top. All have stood the test of time and all that the camino can throw at them.
Over the years I have developed a system for maintaining a comfortable temperature whilst walking on the camino. I prefer to wear a sleeveless T-shirt and arm-warmers and until last year I would wrap a scarf around my shoulders and over my chest to keep me cosy on chilly early morning departures. I don’t need any extra heat on my back because it is kept warm on all but the coldest days by my backpack. I overheat quite easily and my system works well because I can adjust or remove the scarf and pull off the arm-warmers without having to stop to remove my pack and jacket.
Last year I bought a lightweight fleece hoodie and cut it up to suit my requirements. This worked really well in the bitter windy conditions we experienced on the Camino de la Lana, keeping my neck and head reasonably warm.
One of the few advantages of these long dark winter evenings is the urge to pick up the knitting needles and create something useful. I saw a very pretty ball of yarn in the sale bin a few weeks ago and thought it would make a lovely cardigan for my granddaughter Sophia, and indeed, when she saw it, she immediately coveted it. Unfortunately for Sophia, before her cardigan was begun I was inspired to use the yarn for a different purpose.
Although I have no need of an alternative shoulder warmer – the knitting yarn was calling – silently challenging me to pick up my needles and get creative! I found a free online pattern for a ‘top down’ jumper and set about knitting myself a new camino outfit, not really expecting it to work and always with a bit of a jokey attitude. But hey, although money is tight, the yarn cost a mere £3.50 so it wasn’t a huge investment.
I am a sufficiently experienced knitter to be able to make adjustments to patterns, and have a fair idea of what will work and what isn’t likely to. I extended the neck and made it with a front opening to give various style options. I shortened the back, as I don’t want any extra warmth where my backpack shelters me for the elements, and I cast off the sleeves midway between shoulder and elbow so that they will tuck securely into the top of my arm-warmers.
There was even enough yarn left over to make a matching hat. I tried it on this morning – a twin-set with a difference! It is lovely and warm and I think it will work a treat. With a combined weight of just over 150 grams and a cost (including a zip) of less than £6. Result! And I managed to find some additional balls of yarn from Hobbycraft website so that I can still make Sophia her promised cardigan.
So, what started out as a big of a giggle promises be a very useful item. My mum would be very proud!
Header pic is just to prove we do have some beautiful days here in the UK amongst all the rain and gloom. Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis each scored a direct hit on my garden fence, but this is small fry when compared to the thousands of poor souls who are left temporarily homeless by the flooding that these storms have caused in England and Wales.