We've all been there: it's a sunny August afternoon, and you're in the kitchen, busily creating clarified lime juice with your home centrifuge, when you get a phone call. It's the palace! An important birthday is coming up, and they hope you can knit a little something for the occasion. But what to create? The choices are endless!
Well, not really. When knitting for royalty, you really should take various factors into account, some of which may even be useful for non-royal knitting occasions.
Yarn Weight: normally, of course, you can choose any yarn weight, and there'll be an appropriate project, whether fine lace yarn for a thrilling openwork shawl, or a super-bulky yarn for a delightful five row hat. But think how charming it would be to incorporate in the project, not their initials, but their full name! And royalty have quite the names, which you really ought to spell out in their entirety, like Princess Maria Theresia Von Thurn Und Taxis. There are charts on the internet for knitting letters (just do an image search for "knitting letters alphabet") and you will see many suggestions, but be warned: they average about 10-12 stitches per letter. For the Princess' lengthy name, that'd be at least 430 stitches all the way around ... which in an aran* weight yarn would be about 110 inches, depending on your gauge*. So that suggests instead use a light sport or fingering weight yarn. Or you could always double up the name and do it in two rows.
Material: I'm going to surprise you here. You'd probably expected Uncle Stashley to endorse the finest wool available on Planet Earth (that's its own debate, as cashmere is warmer and softer, but merino's more durable, and alpaca is both water-repellent and tricky to set on fire, something that most Royals would be pleased to avoid), but I'm going to suggest acrylic instead. I know, shocker. It's because royalty tend not to do their own washing up, and you can't trust that the staff will know to hand-wash your woolen item in luke-warm water with a Eucalan woolwash. Better safe than sorry.
Colour: This would seem a no-brainer—nothing is more majestic than royal purple, right? But everyone has their preferences—my good friend Queen Lizzie II (we've never met, you understand) likes wearing solid bright colours so she can be picked out from the crowd whereas Prince Nikolai William Alexander Frederik of Denmark tends to wear neutrals (except when modelling, where he wears whatever the designer has dreamed up). So you should probably check with the recipient first. (Side note: if you need a royal model for your next runway, contact the Scoop Agency, who represent him).
Item: If you don't go for a garment, you don't even have to worry about colour, so I'm going to recommend you knit up something for the home. Garments are tricky. If you opt to knit a sweater, then those embarrassing questions about bust size are called into play, and palace aides are apt to say unhelpful things like "Ma'am is perfectly proportioned" rather than admitting "from a 40 inch bust she rather swoops out, pear-like, to a 44 inch waist, before swooping out further to a 50 inch hip." If you think aides are playing fast and loose with the truth, think Dish Towel, or iPad Cover, or Christmas Ornament, rather than a Shrug*. Here's kind of a fun idea: you knit a cover for a pickle jar, pop a candle inside, and the lace cover creates a fanciful lighting effect as the candle shines through. It's Faerie's Firelight by Jenn Sheehan. So pretty! Just the sort of thing Prince Carl Philip of Sweden would love to add to his home, the Rosendal Palace on the Djurgården Island in Stockholm, Sweden. And they have guided tours, so you could visit your handiwork as much as you liked!
Payment: Don't accept any. First of all, it's just vulgar, and second of all, how much better to have royalty owe you one. So don't be surprised if at a certain coronation a Mrs Prince William, proud recipient of a pair of Pom Pom Party Slippers, drops to the international press how much she enjoys a particular knitting blog and the handsome, talented man who writes for it.
Privacy: Of course, one mustn't toot one's own horn. If you knit in public, as Uncle Stashley is wont to do, people will ask: "For whom are you knitting that spectacular christening blanket, with three-colour stranded knitting per row, the Belgian Flag repeated as a border, a gold lion rampant in the centre, and the motto L'union fait la force, written in Morse code, with knits as dashes and purls for dots, contributing to the central pattern?" And you must smile and simply say "I'm afraid I can't tell," and trust they'll figure it out eventually, especially if you gesture to the ball of yarn and add "isn't it exquisite? Hand-dyed Belgian linen and silk blend." If your audience is particularly dense, cough, and add "Oops, almost purled where I should have knit—Mathilde would never have forgiven me." Eventually they'll put it together.
On The Needles
(I will mark with a ! those projects that have advanced, and !! those projects that are new to the blog.)
!Sweater Sample (from the Sweater Workshop, almost finished the 2x2 rib section)
!Cabled Viking Hat (doing the final decreases, yippee)
!Sophie's Universe crochet project (Part 3: Round 18)
!GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater (about 13.5 inches into it, from the bottom. I'm getting like 1 round per night done, thanks to the complexity of the Sophie's Universe crochet project)
!Persian Dreams Blanket (row 41 of the second hexagon)
A Random Blanket (about 38% through)
On the backburner:
Vice Versa scarf (double knitting!) starting the fifth row of squares
Feather Duster Lace Shawl (I'm repeating, for the first time, the body section)
A Church Mouse sock (post-heel)!
World's Simplest Mittens (prior to thumb)
A Hitchhiker Scarf (started over a year ago. It's for when I'm needing mobile knitting and every other project is stuck at a complicated point. I will be in the middle forever, I guess)
Simply Ribbed Scarf (again, it's ancient, intended for emergency mobile knitting, and I'm in the middle)
*gauge = the relationship of the size of fabric you knit to the number of stitches you have. Very important for sweaters (if you want them to fit), not so important for scarves.
*aran = a weight of yarn just slightly bigger than worsted. Also a traditional style of knitting sweaters, when capitalized, so you can certainly knit aran Aran sweaters if you're so inclined. You could also do it in worsted worsted weight, but that's a separate issue!
*shrug = a tight-fitting cardigan or jacket, so short that only the arms and shoulders are covered. Essentially the same shape as a bolero, if you can picture that more easily, but with more of a Sense and Sensibility feel to it.