I rather wanted to make something for Molly's vet Emmy and her husband Paul, who works with her, to thank them for all their kindness over the years. Paul is a big, kind, bearlike chap, so my trusty fingerless mittens in a fuzzy brown mohair/wool mix (Rowan Colourspun) which I had stashed, seemed reliable, which I have seen called Man Paws:
(Just a quick webcam pic for those, I'm afraid)
For Emmy I thought triangular shawl/scarf things are a pretty good bet for most people. I tried to remember what colours I'd ever noticed her wearing other than her working white coat/blouson thingy. I thought mauvy-bluey-greeny ones were probably about right. Good old Drops again, their pure alpaca had a lovely range, including some 'mixed' ones with a number of different coloured fibres blended into one strand which makes for more subtlety.
I browsed a while for patterns, wanted three toning colours but wasn't sure about little narrow stripes or great big blocks. Then I found this one, which when I saw its name, Heartbreak, had to be the one. In fact the designer, Lisa Mutch, tends to give her designs rather terse, angst-ridden, minatory or elliptical names: others include 'Asunder', 'Enshroud', 'Maim', 'Slain', 'Nevermore'. Not quite your granny's knitwear, is the inteded impression, I think. She is one of those clever people who can create all kinds of shapes and patterns from quite simple elements, which are easy enough to follow and carry in your head once you see how they work, but which most ordinary knitting mortals like myself couldn't possibly imagine coming up with and putting together ourselves. It takes a certain kind of mathematical brain, I think, combined with a tactile aesthetic sense.
You make it from the bottom point of the overall triangle up, and the different coloured triangular sections are made using short rows and wrapping-and-turning, which I'd not really done before, except I suppose in the heels of socks, but I wouldn't have known how to transfer the technique. It wasn't really difficult anyway, once I'd followed the directions. It was in fact rather a small shawl, all-in-all, and Emmy is not a slight person but quite broad-shouldered, so as I had plenty of yarn left I thought I'd add another section. But if you follow the pattern of enlarging the triangles each time, the triangles get bigger and bigger, deeper as well as longer, and it soon became apparent I didn't have that much yarn left, and even if I had the top green one would be enormous and rather overwhelm the purple, which I didn't want, so I had to improvise, and make it longer and thinner. I really didn't have much idea what I was doing, and any careful maths went out the window; the short rows got longer and longer as I raced to get to the end before the yarn ran out. Yet it was surprising how forgiving the principle was, and how it didn't spoil the overall effect.
Emmy, of course, had no idea of these fascinating facts about its construction, not being a knitter, though once when she was doing a nifty bit of suture work on Molly she did mention she rather liked doing that kind of thing with thread and stuff and had been fond of crochet as a child (Mol was fine, it was on a wart where she didn't have much sensation and she'd had a small local anyway). But she seemed genuinely pleased when I gave it to her, said what nice colours, wrapped it round her shoulders and gave me a hug. Paul slipped his mittens on with a smile, and said they reminded him of the milkmen in Holland in the winter.
There is a theory that one should only really give knitted gifts, or more substantial ones anyway, to fellow knitters, as they are the only ones who fully appreciate what goes into them. But I don't hold with this, I'd rather put the love and effort into them anyway then let them go with my blessing to take their chances*.
I do rather hope that Gina and Mimine don't get hold of them though.
*Also fellow knitters are also more likely to spot the mistakes and sloppiness and short cuts.