What a knit

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As if a global recession were not sufficient cause for anxiety, I’m now faced with another pressing challenge – that of knitting a jumper for our two hens, Peppa and Minty.


You see, eight-year-old Louis spotted a photo of ex-battery hens sporting hand-knitted jumpers this week in The Times.  He immediately begged me to knit a similarly warm and attractive gilet for our own birds. 


Frankly, when we decided to give over half our garden to hens and their mountains of poo, I didn’t expect that my responsibilities would extend to crafting hand-made garments for them. Mind you, neither did I expect to find myself, Jodie Kidd-style, frantically driving round neighbouring streets searching for the hens after they disappeared. Fearing the worst – that the foxes had finally got to them – I almost broke down with relief after discovering them three hours later. There they were, scratching happily around the garden of a very bemused elderly lady who lives across the road.


The funny thing is, a little part of me (just a little mind) actually rejoices at the thought of knitting a hen-jumper. I think it’s the prospect of someone actually wearing something that I’ve knitted – publicly and without protest.  My record of knitted gifts is not a happy one.  The first attempt (since knitting a single bed sock at the age of 12) was a forest green scarf three years ago.  My eldest son Max refused point blank to even try it on.  I then presented it to Louis who welcomed it as the most beautiful gift ever.  When a cold snap descended, I was finally able to proudly offer him the scarf to wear to school. He said: “Oh no Mummy, I couldn’t possibly wear such a precious thing to a busy place like school. I’m going to keep the scarf in a special box to remember you when you’re dead.”


Undeterred, I’ve gone on to knit a number of projects including: a cushion cover that has languished unfinished for 18 months; a rather peculiar pink ‘wallet’ for my daughter; and a further five scarves. The last of these – a burgundy-hued anniversary present for Jean-Philippe – took six weeks of fevered knitting.  The first time he wore it, a ten-year-old local kid approached him and asked pointedly why he was ‘wearing a girl’s scarf’.


So, if anyone has any easy-to-follow instructions for knitting a hen waistcoat, could you please forward them to me?