Since Husband wasn't with us (and also because we were later departing the house that I'd originally hoped), on arrival, we were able to head straight to the cafe. I won't say that I route-marched Son into the warm, but that's only because I was carrying him and he also seemed as keen to get there as I (mentioning something about chocolate cake as we went). The cafe in question is one of those special finds: Beautiful views of the sea, home baking by some very talented local women and very probably a fantastic place to knit. But that pleasure is reserved for another knitter: I took "my" crayons, toy car and a couple of books (on trains and diggers, since you ask). And honestly, I wouldn't swap it.
Refuelled (neither of us with chocolate cake, by the way), we wrapped ourselves against the elements and headed back outside. I confess that I did eye-up Son rather jealously, he in his cosy merino wool jumper, "proper" winter jacket and dog hat whilst I was in my whatever-fits wardrobe, covered by my shop-bought (shock!) poncho. Don't get me wrong, the poncho is lovely. And it is warm, it just has gaps. Big ones, down each side of the body. Part of its design, I know, and part of what makes it so very conformable for a nearly eight-month pregnant woman, but they also let the wind in. Now I'm not saying that had I knit said poncho, I'd have been any warmer. In all honesty, I'd have probably been a heck of a lot colder as the poncho would either be (1) still in "stash" form or (2) still on the needles, and neither options provide any kind of practical wind protection.
I suspect the warmth to which I'm referring to is more to do with "knowing" the garment and the person for whom it is intended: Son's jumper and hat I know very, very well. Right down to the stitch level. Each were made with him and only him in mind, colours chosen especially for him, necklines altered to provide the desired warmth without potential decapitation and hat knit in a bigger size for a similar reason... And yes, some of these adjustments will make the garments warmer but I'm not sure that these will account for all of it.
Nor am I necessarily referring to the "superiority" of the yarn (my poncho is made from lambs' wool, and if it’s good enough for sheep...). I think that I'm alluding to that characteristic of a hand knit garment that is so difficult to define, that hand-waving, possibly romantic notion that perhaps other knitters also know of..? I might be tempted to call it the "love", if only it didn't sound so icky, but whatever it is, it's definitely emotional. All of my knitting contains a little of me and when I knit for my family and friends, it's that much more special. The finished piece not only has to live up to all my aesthetic expectations (demanding, moi?), but it has to do so much more - and being warm and cosy is right up towards the top of the list. I guess that I am, quite literally, attempting to wrap my family in my love. Though obviously in a subtle, discreet kind of way: I hope none of my garments scream "my mummy / wife knit this for me" (with all of the stereotypical implications that go with that) but that they have a "quality" about them. Well-knit, well-finished (I try) but also well-loved.
And so, if for these next few weeks, I'm a little bit cold as I splash through puddles, jump over waves and run across the sand, that's fine. For holding Son's warm hand as we head back home, I am cheered by the fact that he isn't.