The Tale of One Ugly Christmas Jumper and How It Came To Be

A bit of an explanation for those of you who might have noticed an absence of my usual waffle in the comments section of your blog posts.  I have been to the U.K. for a week but not for the usual fish and chips, underwear grab in Marks and Spencer and other frivolities.  Unfortunately my Mother is ill and my sisters and I are taking it in turns to keep her company while she receives palliative care at her home.  Logistically it’s quite difficult as I am in France, one of my sisters is in Spain and the youngest is in Wales which – though in the U.K.,  is still a 3.5 hour drive away from where my Mum lives.  Still, whilst it is still possible, she wants to stay in her own familiar surroundings so we are doing our best to make sure she has one of us there at all times.  I did take my iPad but screen time was sacrificed to quality time and, although I have certainly read most of your posts, I haven’t been commenting.  In fact, since I returned home yesterday I had just under 300 emails and had to be ruthless with the delete button – just so you know.

Anyway, despite taking a new crochet project with me and some small sewing bits to keep me occupied, it was all put aside in favour of ‘the Christmas jumper’.  This project was entrusted to Mum, just after she received her diagnosis, by my nephew.  I think he thought it would give her something to work on and keep her mind occupied.  She was actually knitting a rather lovely top for herself at the time but, as the sun shines out of his proverbial, as far as my Mum is concerned, all else was swept aside in her desperation to finish it for him and the boring stocking stitch began.

My nephew knows absolutely nothing about knitting and printed a very basic pattern off the internet and told her that was what he wanted.  Despite knitting for years, my Mum has never got the hang of intarsia knitting and the chart left her dumbfounded.  My middle sister was with her at that stage and decided to make the Christmas tree in felt and appliqué it on to the front.  It was, I am told, a disaster.  So, despite not even being a regular knitter herself, she came up with a separate knitted version of the tree, complete with pompoms for the baubles and star,  and sewed that on.  Mum completed the back before the extreme fatigue she is now suffering from kicked in, the same sister took some of the yarn back to Spain with her and did the sleeves and my task was to pick up the stitches and do the neckband and then sew it all together.

Et voila!

Could this be the weirdest Christmas jumper you see this year? It is like the Frankenstein of woolen wear – being made by different makers at different times and all of different abilities.  Unfortunately, my sister was unsupervised when she knitted the sleeves in Spain and so mistook k1, p1 rib for moss stitch so there is absolutely no difference between the width of the cuffs and the width of the sleeves.  I didn’t have time to do anything other than to sew it all together but it did occur to me that it might be worth picking up around the ends of the cuffs and knitting a proper ribbed piece on.  What do you knitters think? Would that work?  I know that the moss stitch piece would have to stay but we could call that a design feature.

He will be delighted to get this for Christmas.  No, really!

I am sure of  two things however:  it will be the only one of its kind and he will never wear it in public.

Did I mention he is 35 years old?

This is my old boy Taz – he turned 12 in September. He is in recovery mode.

The day before I was due to leave for the U.K. I had slept very badly because, not only was I very nervous about my trip not knowing how I would find my Mum and worried about my caregiving abilites but  I could hear the dogs marauding about downstairs in a restless manner.  I got up to let them out in case they needed to pee and then I noticed that Taz’s stomach was hugely distended and rock hard.  I thought it might be the very dangerous condition called ‘bloat’  which  happens when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, making it expand causing it to put pressure on the other organs. I wondered about calling out an emergency vet – it was 5.30 in the morning – but suddenly he was incredibly sick and I remembered that I had found the dog food delivery ‘tampered with’ the evening before and a kilo of one of the two 15kg sacks stored downstairs suspiciously missing so I put it down to him gorging himself.  So, instead of rushing to the vet, I took my daughter to work at the normal time but, when I got back , I thought I’d take him to the vet anyway as he needed some more pills for his arthritis and let her have a look at his stomach – ‘just in case’.  Luckily I did because she did an echogram, saw his spleen was in a bad condition and decided to whip it out on the spot.  So, he lives to scent our lives with his gaseous emissions another day – while he was having the echogram the nurse was at the wrong end holding his feet still and had to run and fling open a window.  ‘Welcome to my life’ I told her.  Luckily, Mr. Tialys was on his way home from the U.K. to cover for me while I went to the U.K. and we picked him up at the end of the day.  We put him in one of the girls’ t-shirts instead of a buster collar and, just over a week later, he appears to have recovered well.

Just what I needed before setting off for a week of grappling with multitudinous medications and daytime television but I am now an expert in both.

Not being a daytime t.v. viewer myself I am amazed at what gets discussed, dissected and repeated over and over again between the hours of 08.00 and 17.00.  The worst of it is, because the target audience is obviously older the adverts are nearly all for life insurance ‘so your children aren’t burdened with your funeral expenses’,  fund raising pleas for cancer charities with images of patients and, as it was Halloween while I was there, numerous coffins and other death related paraphernalia – all very uncomfortable viewing when watching with an elderly, sick loved one :/   It was worse than an unexpected explicit sex scene coming up while watching with all the family round at Christmas time.

Still, there was always the Jeremy Kyle Show on to remind us that perhaps a more rigorous programme of contraception ought to be promoted amongst people who can shout at more than 90 decibels and use one swear word for every two ordinary ones in any given sentence whilst demanding to hear the results of the DNA test to prove who, out of a number of possible candidates, is the father of their unfortunate child.

Anyway, I’m back now.






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  1. #1 by Tina Long on November 4, 2017 - 16:42

    Oh Lynn, what a carry on.  So sorry about Taz – I do hope he’s going to be okay.We’ll talk soon. Tina xx 

    • #2 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 19:22

      He seems fine at the moment – it apparently took him about 4 days to perk up.

  2. #3 by M. L. Kappa on November 4, 2017 - 16:45

    Oh dear, you have been through the wars… I’m sorry about your mother, I know how hard this kind of thing can be, especially when you don’t live next door. However, horrible though it might seem, I did enjoy reading this post, what with the daytime tv, the farty dog and the hideous sweater – all the glorious messiness of life. Hugs 🤗 !!!!

    • #4 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 19:23

      Thank you for the hugs – much appreciated.

  3. #5 by PendleStitches on November 4, 2017 - 16:46

    Oh lordy, it all sounds so grim. Jeremy Kyle most of all. Sending you and your family all the best thoughts at this difficult time.
    As for the sweater. I’d leave it be. It is a triumph of love over adversity and will, I suspect, be treasured as such by The Nephew.

    • #6 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 19:24

      Thanks so much.
      I think your description of ‘a triumph of love over adversity’ is perfect and I’m sure it will be treasured – if not worn 😉

  4. #7 by claire93 on November 4, 2017 - 17:05

    oh my! If the nephew was hoping for something to win the prize at his annual works ugly xmas sweater, I think he’ll be in with a good chance, Lynn lol. Not that all the ladies in your family didn’t do a stirling job, but . . . oh my!
    I am always amazed at how you manage to bounce back and take whatever life throws at you with such energy. So glad Taz was seen to speedily, and hope he’ll be back to his usual self soon.
    And sending positive vibes to your Mum and all the family.

    • #8 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 19:26

      Thank you for the positive vibes Claire – I won’t show my Mum your comments about the jumper though as I think she quite likes it 😉

  5. #9 by katechiconi on November 4, 2017 - 17:29

    You have been missed. And busy, I see… I’m glad that you’re able to spend a decent amount of quality time with your mum. So often, we only get the chance once they’re past the point where they can enjoy it. I must say, the Tale of Taz Fartypants did make me cackle and snort in a very unseemly fashion, so you haven’t lost your storytelling touch!
    That sweater is truly dreadful, what with the Frankentree on the front. Nice shade of purple, though…

    • #10 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 19:27

      I hate to tell you but it is actually navy blue – the camera on my phone and bad lighting just gave it a purple hue.

      • #11 by katechiconi on November 6, 2017 - 00:00

        Well, that’s OK too. At least it’s not yellow. Or pink 🙂

  6. #12 by The Snail of Happiness on November 4, 2017 - 19:51

    That is a truly hideous jumper! If you add ribbing to the cuffs, they can be turned back over the moss stitch, and even stitched in place to hide it.
    Are you back with your mum again in a few weeks time? Perhaps you could take something lovely and simple to make with her… or at least something beautiful that you can make and she can enjoy watching being created.
    I’m glad to hear Taz was saved. We are currently dealing with doggy liver failure… it involves a lot of carbohydrate, vitamin tables and Bovril, but I’ve finally succumbed and bought some expensive low fat food, which he loves. We have gone from expecting to lose him at any moment, to simple frailty. Still, we are treasuring the time we have… as with dogs, so with people.

    • #13 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 19:32

      Oh dear – I think my Mum is actually quite happy with how the jumper turned out – luckily she doesn’t read my blog 😉 I like PendleStitches comment that it is ‘a triumph of love over adversity’ and I think that’s how it will be received and treasured. I will probably go back at the end of the month or beginning of December but we are taking it a few days at a time at the moment but, yes, I will certainly think of something simple to do together – perhaps something festive.
      I hope your own dog recovers well – it sounds like you are doing your best for him which is all any of us can do I suppose.

      • #14 by The Snail of Happiness on November 5, 2017 - 19:39

        Not being a big fan of Christmas jumpers, I think they are all hideous… but then, I think they are supposed to be!

      • #15 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 20:06

        It’s true, although I’m quite partial to a few Nordic reindeer and snowflakes around the yoke of a quality sweater possibly in silvery grey and white. Not that I’ve got one, but if I were to get one, that would be acceptable to me.

      • #16 by The Snail of Happiness on November 5, 2017 - 21:47

        I have a bit of a hankering for some Nordic socks with snowflakes on them!

  7. #17 by anne54 on November 4, 2017 - 23:53

    I think you should leave the moss stitch in full view. This jumper is going to be such a memorable one and all its parts need to be seen. The purple sets the whole off perfectly!
    I too am sorry that you Mum is so ill, but I am sure that you are grateful to have had the time with her, daytime TV not withstanding. The time I spent with my Dad in the month before his death is a treasured memory, a difficult time but I would have been poorer for not being there.

    • #18 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 19:37

      I wasn’t there for my Dad’s last couple of weeks back in 2013 but we did speak on the phone every day and he was still driving me mad on Skype with his computer questions almost right up until the end, bless him. I know my Mum is comforted by the presence of one or other of her ‘children’ being with her and so, as long as we can, we’ll be there for her.
      I hate to tell you but the jumper is navy blue – a trick of the phone camera and bad lighting turned it purple. I don’t know whether that is better or worse but it is what it is and he will love it anyway even if he never wears it.

  8. #19 by Fred the Needle on November 5, 2017 - 10:12

    I do hope your mum is keeping out of pain, while hospice’s sound the worst option they are uplifting places and offer great pain management, but how wonderful that all three of you are supporting her in her own home. Its a difficult time, sending you lots of hugs.

    I hope Taz is recovering – I have had two Staffie’s – I live in a flat and early on the air quality was awful – I had both of them on a raw meat diet and there is no offending gas – which makes living with them easier.

    • #20 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 19:47

      Mum is pain free at the moment which is a blessing. Her fear is that once she goes in to the hospice she will never come out again and I think she is probably right. I think, as long as we can be there, she can have all the medicine etc. at home that she would get in the hospice so we will try for as long as possible or until the time comes that she would definitely be more comfortable with 24 hour professional care.
      As for Taz – he seems fine – the immediate concern was that the absence of the spleen can cause arrhythmia of the heart but that would usually cause a heart attack in the first 24 hours after the op. The spleen didn’t have a tumour on it, neither was it ruptured, just in a bit of a state, so there shouldn’t be any repercussions from that. We’ll spoil him with some fresh meat for a while and see what happens. I have to say that we feed our dogs on some top quality dry dog food from Sweden but we have a very large garden and six cats and, if left to his own devices, he will ‘graze’ for hours, hoovering up all sorts of rubbish as well as fallen fruit and it is this, I suspect, that causes the noxious outpourings later in the day.

      • #21 by Fred the Needle on November 6, 2017 - 10:41

        LOL I love your description of a dog hoover! makes a great picture in my imagination!
        Glad your mum is managing her condition as she wishes… its never an easy time.

  9. #22 by Beads and Barnacles on November 5, 2017 - 11:26

    I am sorry to hear about your mother but at least you are able to be there for some of the time.
    And I totally agree about your comments on Jeremy Kyle!
    That jumper is wonderful. And I’m sure he will end up wearing it out in public 🙂
    You could knit a rib cuff that gets turned up inside the current Moss stitch cuff and sewn down like a folded collar. That would give a bit of tightness to the cuffs but shouldn’t create winkles like I think it would if you had the ribbing on the outside and the Moss stitch on the inside ( due to the different circumferences of the two bits of cuff) * I hope that made sense.
    Sending you all my best wishes

    • #23 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 19:49

      It does make sense, thanks so much. I’ll see what the others want to do but it might be that we leave it as the imperfect token of grandmotherly (and motherly and auntyly) love that it is and I think he will still love it and wear it (in private) 😉

  10. #24 by sewchet on November 5, 2017 - 12:49

    Bloody hell, what a time you’ve had of it! So glad to note that your oh-so-English sense of humour hasn’t faded and hope it’s carrying you through the worst. I don’t know whether I’m ashamed or pleased to tell you that I laughed out loud at various points whilst reading this. However you take that, please know that I send best wishes for both Mum and Taz. Xx

    • #25 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 19:51

      Be pleased, not ashamed – I wouldn’t have written the post as I did if I’d not wanted to raise a chuckle or two. Thanks so much for your best wishes, I do appreciate them.

  11. #26 by KerryCan on November 5, 2017 - 13:23

    The stress you’re dealing with! Oh, my . . . I can relate a little, having been through a similar illness with a dear family member this summer. It’s all so hard and sad, yet you treasure little moments you’re sharing. The sweater will achieve mythic status in all of this–the communal making, in the time spent caring for your mother, the sheer hideousness of it . . . wow. I’m very glad the dog is recovering–you don’t need that added worry.

    • #27 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 19:55

      I remember your post about that Kerry and it is hard but a part of life and I am lucky to still have my Mum at 85 years old (her, not me) when so often you hear of people losing their parents at a young age. It’s just ‘the way of it’ that’s so difficult – if you know what I mean.

      • #28 by KerryCan on November 6, 2017 - 14:35

        I do know what you mean, indeed. Enjoy every moment you can.

  12. #29 by nanacathy2 on November 5, 2017 - 18:21

    Ah daytime TV. In one of my jobs I got to do a lot of house calls where daytime TV was de rigour. I don’t miss Jerermy Kyle one bit. Poor dog, poor you, poor Mum, poor jumper. Shearing elastic in the cuffs will solve that little dilemna. Maybe he wants it for the 15 December and Christmas Jumper day for which it is perfect.

    • #30 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 19:57

      I hate to tell you but the JK show has probably got worse since you watched it. He winds them up a treat now and probably shouts more than some of his guests. That’s ‘reality’ T.V. for you though I suppose.
      I wondered about shirring elastic in the cuffs but am worried it might make them ‘puff out’ a bit. To be honest, I think his motive was twofold – to give Mum something to strive for and to have something to remember her by. In reality, it’s caused her a little bit of stress but we won’t tell him that as he meant well.

  13. #31 by lovelucie1 on November 5, 2017 - 19:14

    You certainly have a wonderful gift for story telling. What must be a challenging time is still such a very good entertaining read! I hope you are feeling as upbeat as you sound. I did wonder about the purple jumper!
    I seem to catch 2 minutes of a Jeremy Kyle repeat every morning as my tv warms up before I can turn it over. So glad of a relatively boring life!
    Sending warm thoughts to you all.

    • #32 by tialys on November 5, 2017 - 20:02

      Well, I’ve heard some excuses for watching the Jeremy Kyle Show before but yours takes the biscuit!! 😉 My own excuse is ‘I only ever watch it when Mum is visiting’ or, more recently of course, ‘I only ever watch it when I’m visiting my Mum’. I’m alright if I don’t see the beginning of the ‘story’ but, if I catch that, I find myself needing to know how it turns out.
      Thanks so much for sending your warm thoughts Lucie – they are much appreciated.

  14. #33 by JaneyB on November 5, 2017 - 22:50

    So sorry to hear about your Mum, she is fortunate to have you and your sisters to take care of her while she is able to stay at home. The jumper is quite something!! Definitely a one off!! We used to have a spaniel who would eat anything he could find and could empty a room with his noxious emissions!!

    • #34 by tialys on November 6, 2017 - 09:20

      All three of my dogs are ‘garden grazers’ but he is definitely the worst even though he takes longer to find anything than the others as he’s almost blind now.

  15. #35 by Postcard from Gibraltar on November 6, 2017 - 10:21

    So sorry to hear about your Mum’s illness and Taz’s tale of woe. How special that you have all rallied round to finish the Christmas jumper – there can’t be many jumpers with such an interesting back story. I’m completely with you on Jeremy Kyle – can’t stand that programme, it makes me feel ill to watch it. Take care of yourself x

  16. #37 by poshbirdy on November 7, 2017 - 19:23

    V sorry to hear of your mum’s illness and of Taz’s too. I love that the jumper is like a sampler of the family’s work, and it really doesn’t matter if he never wears it out – it’s a wonderful achievement and will be a lovely gift. Sending positive thoughts x

    • #38 by tialys on November 8, 2017 - 08:18

      Thank you for the positive thoughts which are very welcome.

  17. #39 by jendavismiller on November 8, 2017 - 00:45

    Oh Lynn, I’m so sorry to hear of your mum’s poor health situation. Hopefully she’ll be able to stay in her home with her girls. Wishing you peace and strength to endure. The Christmas jumper! Priceless. And the daytime TV….oh the news all day. ugh. We ended up watching (and enjoying) loads of old movies. As for poor Taz, having his dietary indiscretions and dirty laundry “aired” over the online waves. Haha. Glad he’s feeling better now. Hang in there. xo Jen

    • #40 by tialys on November 8, 2017 - 08:21

      We watched an old Hitchcock movie while I was there and it reminded me of when I was young and we would watch old black and white movies together. I remember soaking a hand towel with tears at the end of ‘Angels with Dirty Faces’.

      • #41 by jendavismiller on November 9, 2017 - 19:48

        Oh that’s a good one, isn’t it! Love those old movies.

  18. #42 by dezertsuz on November 8, 2017 - 22:46

    Oh, my gosh. There are so many things that could be said about that sweater. LOL They’ve probably already been said. At least you can point out that it is what he asked for … kind of. I’m sorry to hear your mother’s ill health. I’m so glad you could take a turn over with her. Is that going to be a regular thing for a while? That show sounds terrible. LOL It boggles my mind. Now I remember why I don’t have TV service!

    • #43 by tialys on November 9, 2017 - 09:21

      I’m afraid it will definitely be a regular thing the only question is, ‘how long for?’
      That sort of T.V. show would, at one time, have been remarkably ‘un-British’ – us supposed to be more reserved and all that – now it seems de rigueur to expose yourself emotionally (and sometimes physically) in front of millions 😦

  19. #44 by Dartmoor Yarns on November 10, 2017 - 00:29

    I’m so sorry to hear about your Mum, sounds like you and your sisters are doing a great job though. Maybe not doing so well with the sweater – what can I say about that? I have no idea. Good to hear Taz is getting better after his op. Give him a hug from me. And sending one for you too – you definitely need it. xx

    • #45 by tialys on November 10, 2017 - 10:29

      Yes, the jumper. It’s certainly ‘different’ isn’t it but I still did my best sewing up when I was called upon to join it all together. I actually think my sister did a good job with the Christmas tree appliqué although I’m not saying it would be something I’d be willing to wear 😉 My Mum is happy and that’s all that counts. I’ve given Taz a hug which he doesn’t really deserve as he (sort of) bit me when I was holding him down to have his stitches taken out.

      • #46 by Dartmoor Yarns on November 10, 2017 - 17:15

        Of course he deserves it, poor thing, stitches can be painful when they come out and it must be so scary , because he doesn’t understand and he’s in pain. Now go give him another five hugs from me!

  20. #47 by Born To Organize on November 10, 2017 - 02:55

    I am so sorry to hear about your Mum’s diagnosis. It’s hard to see our parents age, and especially difficult when you have so much physical distant between you. I’m glad you are able to tag-team her care with your sisters. I hope she’s not in any pain. I’m also so sorry to hear about your pooch. I’m glad you caught it in time, and what a clever solution to the dreaded cone: a soft, familiar t-shirt. Poor dear. My heart goes out to you, Lynn.

    That sweater will go down in family history. I love the teamwork involved, and I love, too, the way everyone made such an effort, even when the skills needed were out of their comfort zone. Sending my very best your way.

    • #48 by tialys on November 10, 2017 - 10:32

      Thank you Alys – she isn’t in any pain at the moment but I think constant nausea would be very hard to deal with too. Still, if that’s as bad as it gets I will be grateful for small mercies.
      The sweater/jumper will, I’m sure, be treasured for its eccentricities and for the manner of its creation.

      • #49 by Born To Organize on November 12, 2017 - 22:15

        I’m sorry to hear about the constant nausea. That sounds really draining, poor dear. I’m sending good thoughts your way. I hope you will get to visit her again soon.

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