What A Clever Knit

I can’t remember how or when I first learned to knit. I do remember that my nan was always knitting, and I watched her carefully and eventually worked out how to do it on my own. I don’t think I was actually ever taught and as a result I have my own technique that works for me. Like most dyspraxic people, I can do things the way that I have devised for myself and find it almost impossible, and very frustrating, to be told that there is a correct way to do things and that “it will be easier if you do it the right way”. This is a sure way to make me give up on something!

I think the first things I ever made were some animal finger puppets, but sadly they did not survive the ravages of my homeless days.

The first thing of any substance I made was this poppy jumper. It is copied from the logo of the band The Alarm, from North Wales.

This (pictured right) was a gift for my sister and to my knowledge she never wore it, and returned it to me a couple of years ago.

My sister’s jumper

I’m often asked how I turn pictures into knitting designs. In the early days, I would trace the designs onto knitting paper, which is similar to graph paper but instead of the squares being square, they are slightly flattened to account for the actual shape of a knitting stitch. Nowadays I use a projector to project the image onto the knitting paper and draw round it that way. This has the added advantage that I can choose exactly how big I want the image by simply moving the projector nearer or farther away.

Bass player Richard Nolan

I made this jumper (below right) for a friend who was a fellow fan of the band It Bites.

It is their bass player, Richard Nolan. I have never seen this jumper again and I presume she took it back to Japan where she lives.

My Richard Nolan jumper

For about 30 years I didn’t knit at all, but when I met my lovely friend Vanessa Davies, she commented that because she likes chickens, people tend to give her chicken-themed items. I mentioned that I fancied knitting her a chicken tea cosy and she was very keen on this idea. I looked for patterns but I couldn’t find one that I liked, but I did find a pattern to actually knit a chicken. The idea snoozed unrealised for some time until disaster struck and Twosy, the very best chicken of all, the darling of Vanessa’s flock, sadly passed away.

I determined that I would try to fill the hole left in our lives with a knitted replacement.


There were a lot of stitches that I didn’t know in this pattern but thankfully YouTube was able to help me out with them.

Twosy two

 I enjoyed making this so much that I decided to get back into knitting. My lovely friend Sian Huntley had to move house away from the badgers she had befriended so I made her this chap (below left) to keep her going until she made friends with some new badgers.


Seized with animal-making fervour I made this frog (below right).

But then Ceri Dobbing and I decided we were going to organise the first ever West Wales Autistic Pride. While we were discussing what we would need to buy for the event, she mentioned we would need a banner. I jokingly said I could knit one, but the idea grew and grew on me and I designed and made this one (below).


It is 4ft wide and 2ft high and is knitted in two sections and sewn together down the middle.

Autism Pride banner

When I showed a picture of this to my cousin, she got very excited and asked me to make her a Christmas robin jumper. We were discussing designs and I, in passing, and more than half-joking, said that I fancied trying to make this:

Model on the right. My finished jumper on the left, a gift for my cousin

Well, immediately this was what she wanted instead of robins, only with Christmas hats on the ducks. It took us several attempts between us to finalise the design and took much longer than actually knitting it. This is when I discovered the projector technique and used this for the large duck. Neither of us liked the smaller duck on here so I downloaded a duck picture and projected and drew round that. While I was waiting for the yarn to arrive, much delayed due to lockdown knitting by everyone, I designed and knitted another one to keep me busy.

Emma’s Rumple Buttercup jumper

This is a character in a book written and illustrated by the man in the duck jumper above, Matthew Gray Gubler. Rumple Buttercup is a monster who lives underground with his imaginary friend and is too afraid to show himself in public because he worries that he is too weird. He only comes out once a year on Halloween but sometimes he disguises himself with a banana skin and sticks his head up through a grating to try to feel he is part of the world. Needless to say, as an autistic person who was forced to live in a tent in the middle of a wood for 12 years, I felt a certain affinity with Rumple.

Emma and Twosy

Emma Wishart is a regular contributor to Pembrokeshire.Online . Her diagnosis of autism at the age of 45 was when she says her life started to make sense, or at least the reasons why nothing made sense started to become clearer. She now lives in Pembrokeshire, working hard to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of autism. She has an IQ of 155, an almost-photographic memory and no ducks. She enjoys staying at home, knitting, playing the guitar and reading. 

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