Would I be interested in coming back to "defend" my crown?
Memories of going through weeks of design & re-design hell, not to mention RSI, flashed through my mind and it was with a sigh of relief that I had the perfect excuse to bow out, I would be on holiday and I had vague plans of going to Berlin (one of my favourite cities).
"Ah, Kirstie will be so disappointed. All the other winners have said they'll come back.........but we understand. Do let us know if your plans change and you're able to take part" - I'm paraphrasing here, but you get the gist. Relief. One bullet dodged.
A couple of days later and an email arrived in my inbox.
"Kirstie was so disappointed to hear that you won't be taking part....",
the classic pincer movement: lay on the guilt trip and hope my benevolent nature and competitive urge conjoin to make me renege on my decision. It worked and they had me by the short and curlies. I agreed to take part and would re-arrange my holiday plans. So, once again, I had just over a month to source yarn, design and make a jumper and then head to an as yet undisclosed location for the filming day. The difference with the competition this year was that it would be open to both men and women knitters.
I made a decision early on in the design process to make a jumper that I would be happy to show to the public, but wasn't too proud about it if another knitter swiped my title with a more worthy jumper. This time, my jumper would need to be adaptable, I didn't want to spend time and money on a project that I would only wear a couple of times. So, I decided on a mix of fairisle and appliqued crochet which I could remove after Christmas was done and dusted. The overall design would be festive but not in-your-face.
There were deliberations about the positioning of mistletoe, but in the end, I opted for an over-the-shoulder number. Also, the neckline changed from a round crewneck, to a snuggly roll neck.
Filming at Craft HQ in Devon, a gorgeous large Georgian house should have been a fun day out, with little expectation of the outcome. I had enjoyed making this sweater and was looking forward to seeing Kirstie Allsopp again. But the day before filming and I came down with a terrible bug - not sure if it was a virus or even food poisoning. Needless to say, I had very little sleep, lots of time visiting the bathroom and an anxious wait until morning when I would need to make the decision whether I could take part in the competition at all. I struggled on and hubby drove us to the filming location two and a half hours away. Every bump in the road was like sailing on the high seas and we had to stop several times so I could regain my composure!
On arriving at HQ, we met the other contestants, four lovely ladies and a dog. Yes, you heard me right, a dog. Of course, the dog hadn't knitted her own jumper, but Betty (the dog) had been crocheted a gorgeous coverlet jumper by her owner, Ruth Maddock. The other jumpers were a mixture of traditional humorous knits and a wacky 12 Days of Christmas design that was truly amazing.
The filming didn't start until two hours after we'd expected and, as is often the case with these things, there was filming and refilming, close ups, cut-aways and sound checks. By the end of the night, I was about ready to drop dead in an exhausted messy heap. But we had to remain up-beat for the filming of the Christmas party when we would eat, drink and be merry and view all the amazing festive creations from other talented people involved in the show. And there were some AMAZING things, not least a wonderful balloon nativity scene and a jaw-dropping paper floral creation by Zoe Bradley.
I guess you want to know the result?
If you missed the show, it will be available on Channel 4 on demand and probably Youtube.
Following on from the filming, I had a call from the production company to ask if I would be happy to donate my jumper to the TEXT SANTA charity appeal. Kirstie was going on the Good Morning Britain show and would be delighted if she could take my jumper. I agreed and they sent a courier the next day to collect the jumper. Kirstie was on GMB the following Monday and one of the presenters, Richard Arnold, wore my jumper! It will be auctioned to raise money for the charity and I hope it does well for them.