Prototype

One of the designs that’s been kicking around my head for some time is a pair of convertible mittens in fingering weight yarn so that they’re not super warm and so that your fingers have maximum dexterity. I know I want them to be textured, but I can’t decide if I want to do cables or a simple knit purl design. While I still have to figure out the details of the design, I think I’ve got the gauge and sizing figured out.

I love convertible mittens. You get the best of both worlds–the warmth of mittens, the dexterity of gloves–and free fingers for texting and turning doorknobs. I also put a “hood” on the thumb so that when you are in mitten mode you get maximum warmness.
I sort of used Ann Budd’s glove template from the Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, but made lots of mods (obviously.) Now that I’ve got the basic shape down, I can start playing with finding the perfect texture.
The yarn I used was Knit Picks Stroll in colorway Saphire Heather. It took just barely more than a single ball. I ran out of my first ball just as I was finishing up the hood of the second glove. I had to use maybe 20 yards from the second ball.
I still need to figure out what texture I’m going to use and then who knows when I’ll have time to write it up… I guess what I’m trying to say is there is no time horizon for the pattern release yet, but I’m one step closer now.

Countess Mitts XL

Christmas 2012 I wanted to knit a gift for the woman who always hosts our family for dinner and makes amazing delicious food and really just goes all out. Don’t believe me? This is how she sets the table:


Unfortunately, and I say this with love, she has giant hands for a woman. The mitts I made were way too small. They were knit in fingering weight yarn on size 1.5 needles and they were lovely (see them here) but way too small.
Christmas 2013 I was determined to get it right. I used the same pattern and the same stitch counts, but used a worsted weight yarn and size 6 needles. They came out just right.
The pattern is Countess Mitts by Colleen Powley and I got it in a kit with the yarn to make the original pair of mitts, though it looks like you can also download it separately on Ravelry. These are very big on me, but they fit the recipient perfectly. They look a bit less delicate than the original, but I think it’s more fitting to her style anyway.
The yarn is Knit Picks Sugarbunny in colorway Peacock. It’s 80% merino and 20% angora so it has a lovely little halo and the mitts are incredibly soft. They advertise it as a worsted weight but I would say it’s a bit lighter than traditional. I’m guessing they suggest knitting it at a worsted gauge to give the angora halo room between the stitches to bloom.
I didn’t get much knit this month because 1) it’s been hot, and 2) I moved again and my yarn was all packed. I’m all unpacked now (except I can’t find my Kindle and it’s making me crazy!) and I’ve really been feeling the knitting bug lately. I’ve got a lot of projects that went on hold when I went through my knitting funk, and I’ve been pulling them all out and remembering why I cast them on and all the good things about them and wondering why I ever put them down. Time for a good knit I think.

Dashing

This knitting year doesn’t seen to be off to any better of a start than last year. It’s already May and I’ve completed 2 projects so far this year. Granted, one was a blanket, but that is still a woefully small number of projects for me. Sometimes I’m able to knit on the trail while I commute, but often in the morning I’m too exhausted and at the end of the day the train is packed and I have to stand… lame-o!

Luckily (?) I was terrible at blogging last year (not that I’ve done great this year…) so I still have a back log of projects from last year that you all haven’t seen yet. Almost a year ago now, I finished a pair of fingerless mitts for my best friend Bob. Because, you know, July is when you have a serious need for gloves… See.


They are Dashing by Cheryl Niamath from the Spring 2007 Knitty. I’ve intended to make them since the pattern was published but I never really had a push to cast it on. Until 6 years later when Bob said something like “I think those gloves that let you still use your fingers are cool” and WHAMO time for some knitting.

I made a few adjustments to the pattern. I only knit 10 rounds before the first cable and 9 rounds after the last cable to shorten them a bit. Also, I used the Jenny’s Stretchy Bind Off around the fingers and thumb to make sure it would not be too tight. Other than  that I followed the pattern as written.
I used the absolutely amazing Dream in Color Classy with Cashmere to knit these. The colorway is Grey Tabby. It is so fantastically soft. It’s also spun nice and tight so I don’t think it will pill much even though it’s a merino-cashmere blend. In my mind that makes it a pretty heavenly yarn.
While they didn’t get much use in July, I did see them in the wild several times over the winter. I suppose I can’t rule out that they were being worn for my benefit, but it seemed genuine. Every knitter knows that’s a win.

Braids

When we were trying to decide on the winter class schedule at the shop, I pitched a series of classes that we are calling the “Heritage Series.” Each class focuses on an design element or traditional knitting style from various regions around the globe. Think Irish cables, Estonian lace, Andean colored hats, Norwegian Selbu styles, Swedish bohus designs. One of the coolest things about it is that there are thousands of potential class topics.

My first class in the series is coming up this Thursday, and it is going to focus on knitting traditional Latvian braids. The project for the class is Simple Braided Mitts by Nicole Clark. Mine look like this:

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The braid is cleverly constructed by twisting your yarns around each other on the outside (right side) of your work. I love that they look nothing like “normal” knitting. I have been wearing them around the shop a lot and get tons of people asking me if I braided it and sewed it on afterward.
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I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in colorways 340002 and 340039 (I hate it when colors don’t have actual names.) The yarn is a nice blend of 55% wool, 33% microfiber, and 12% cashmere. If you dislike working with splitty yarns, this is not the yarn for you. It will split if you don’t watch it vigilantly. I didn’t mind it, but I think I have a very high tolerance. I also work with Spud and Chloe Fine a lot which is frequently accused of being splitty.
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My mitts have fuzzed up a bit with the constant wear they have been getting lately, but nothing that I would call actual “pilling.” I made the size small, which in hindsight was a mistake. The sizes are listed as S, M, L. I have very small hands for a woman, so I made the small. I think in reality the sizes are more in line with “Child, Woman, Man.” When I bound off, the entire mitt fit in the palm of my hand. Thankfully I had used a ver stretchy cast on and bind off, and a VERY aggressive blocking rendered them wearable.
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I did find a few math errors in the pattern. It’s a free pattern and the errors were easy to spot, so I am forgiving. There are incorrect numbers in the pattern concerning the thumb. If you do as instructed to increase the thumb gusset, then all of the numbers in the “Set Thumb Aside” section should be increased by one: they should be 6 (7, 8). All of the instructions for the thumb should have the same changes. The final number of stitches for your thumb will be 14 (16, 18).

Overall, a very enjoyable knit. It only took me about 3 evenings to whip these puppies up and I have enough yarn left over to make a second pair. (I won’t, because I don’t like making the same pattern twice, but I could.) If you’re in the Portland/Beaverton area and want to learn how to make Latvian braids, there are still a few spots in the class

 

Gloves

These are gloves:

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I guess I should say that is a glove. Since there’s clearly not two. I’ve reached the rows of my swallowtail that have nupps and suddenly each row is taking forever! Purl 5 together… brutal. This is my distraction. Simple 1×1 ribbing on nice pointy signature double pointed needles.
It’s OK. You can call me fickle. I can take it.

Putting things in order

Round about the first of year I’m always in a mood to put everything I can in order. To that end, I’ve been running errands all day, doing laundry, cleaning, organizing, I even managed to go for a jog, though it was damn cold.

I’m feeling like things are pretty well in order to kick off 2013. How long they will stay that way… no one can say.

In the spirit of clearing the books, I went through and re-updated my Ravelry stash. I like to keep it cataloged so that I can’t delude myself. It doesn’t stop me from buying more, but I like to keep track of what I’ve got. Turns out, it’s a lot. I’m not going to say “too much” because I’d like to believe there’s no such thing. But it’s a lot. 191,682.2 yards according to Ravelry. A lot.

I’m not one for making resolutions. Never keep them. Plus, I think people get in the habit of making New Year’s resolutions and it sort of allows them to think that the only time they have to try to change is at the new year, and if it doesn’t work they can wait till the next year to try again. But I will say this, it would be pretty great if I could get through 2013 without adding any yardage to the stash. That doesn’t mean no buying, just keep buying in check as compared to what’s being used. Seems reasonable?

Now to continue my Christmas wrap up.

I wanted to make a hostess gift for the woman who always hosts my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She is an amazing cook and thinks nothing of having 20 people show up at her house for dinner. These are what I came up with.

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They are the Countess Mitts from Blue Sky Alpaca. They are sold in these adorable little kits. You get two balls of heavenly soft Royal Alpaca, the pattern, and a cute little box. I got my kit in the colorway Vermillion. It’s a lovely dusty antique rose color. These pictures actually show it really accurately.
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Sadly, as it turns out, Kim has rather above-average sized hands for a woman and they were too small for her. I promised to remake them in a bigger size, so I’ll be casting on a second pair soon. Luckily they go really fast. First project of the new year maybe?
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Freja

I had been eyeing the Freja mittens by Emmy Petersson ever since they were released in the Winter 2011 Knitty. When I decided to teach a stranded knitting class at For Yarn’s Sake, I chose it as one of the patterns my students could pick from. Naturally, I had to make up a sample.

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Notice how I’m strategically hiding my other hand? That’s because I only made the one mitten. It’s going to live at the shop and the sad truth is that if we make pairs of things they tend to get stolen. (Let me know if you want to hear my some-people-are-jerks rant.) Single mittens, socks, slippers, etc. have a much longer shelf life.
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The yarn is Spud & Chloe Fine 80% wool 20% silk in colorways anemone and lipstick. If you’re thinking you’ve maybe heard me mention the yarn before it’s because you have. I love it. It’s soft, got great sheen, comes in some amazing solid colors, and is hands down the sturdiest fingering weight yarn I’ve come across yet.
This single mitten whipped up in about 6 days of off and on work. If I had been dedicated I could have easily finished the pair in one week.
I’m trying to put some love into a lace project that has been languishing on my needles for far too long. Hopefully I will be able to show it to you soon.  In the meantime I have several more one-offs for the shop I can show you to make it look like I’m being productive.

Douglas Mittens

When it comes to knitting I have a serious “Ooooo Shiny” problem. By which I mean I a easily distracted from my current projects by the newest coolest thing leading me to drop everything currently in progress to start something new.

Such was the fate of my Douglass Mittens by emilyelizabeth. I cast them on in March when I had a strong urge for some color work. Then something (I’m not sure what) distracted me for about 5 months. When I finally got back to them, they only took about 2 weeks to finish. I have no idea why I abandon things that are so close to completion. (See the above mentioned “oooo shiny” problem.) Have a look.

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I love them! I knit them in an aran weight yarn on size 5 needles as called for in the pattern and they came out too big for me. (This is not surprising because I have VERY small hands.) They fit my mother perfectly and she has already claimed them as her birthday present this December.
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The pattern is well written and easy to follow. It even comes with directions for how to knit a lining for your mittens. I think in theory linings are a great idea because they protect your colorwork strands from getting pulled and allow you to knit the colorwork in a “hearty” yarn like a traditional shetland but still have super soft comfy mittens by picking a soft yarn for the lining. That being said, I didn’t do the lining. It’s just not cold enough in Oregon to need mittens that warm.
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I used Madeline Tosh Vintage 100% Superwash Merino in colorways Antique Lace and Cloak. Even though the yarn is merino, it’s spun very tightly, so it shouldn’t have the problems with fuzzing and pilling that many merino yarns have. I have yet to meet a Madeline Tosh yarn that I didn’t love, and this is no exception.
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I find colorwork to be very addicting, and easily get into the “just one more row” mindset. In fact, I think I will cast on another pair of mittens this week. More on that later.

Syllabus

I’m teaching three classes at the yarn shop this month. The first is a class to help people get started with the Dream In Color Club kit for October. Each month in the fall and winter, Dream in Color releases an exclusive yarn and pattern. The shop I work at has decided to do a class for each of the projects to help people with any tricky parts of the pattern. This one involves a provisional cast on and grafting, so that will be the focus of my class.

This is their promotional picture. I only got the yarn 9 days before I’m supposed to teach the class, so I’m frantically knitting, but I don’t have any pictures.
The next classes I’m doing for the month are stranded knitting and intarsia (offered as one 2-part class.) For the stranding class I’ve decided to focus on mittens since they are a relatively small, low commitment project. I gave my students the choice of Winter Twilight Mitts (which I’ve made before), Douglass Mittens (which I will show you friday), Freja (still need to whip one up), and Cotton Reel Mitts which look like this:
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Since this is destined to live at the shop as a store sample I only made one. As you can see, it’s a bit oversized on the hand model. That is a combination of the fact that the hand models are freakishly tiny (not even children have hands that slender) and that the pattern seems to run a bit big. Looking at all the pictures on ravelry, these look a little roomy on most people.
I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Ysolda suggests a US 3 needle for fingering weight yarn. I have small hands, so if I wanted to make a pair that fit me, I would probably drop down to a US 0. If you have large hands you’ll be fine as written. For an “average” hand I would probable drop down to a US 2.
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They are also meant to come down your forearm a ways which the hand model doesn’t allow for.
The yarn I used is Spud and Chloe Fine which is a seriously good yarn. It’s 80% wool 20% silk fingering weight. These colors are goldfish and anemone.
As always, Ysolda has thrown in some amazing construction elements. These start with a 7-stitch i-cord that forms the bottom of the cuff. You then pick up stitches from the loose stitch in the back of the i-cord to begin knitting your mitten. This snugs up any looseness and leaves you with a great double-thick cuff.
I would absolutely make myself a pair of these (on smaller needles) if I wasn’t so buried under other projects. Oh, did I mention that the new knitalong starts on Friday?

Douglas Mittens

For the last few weeks at knit night I’ve been working on a pair of Douglas Mittens by emilyelizabeth.  They are fun and since they are done in worsted weight they are super fast.  I’m already this far after just a few hours of work.

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They’re sized pretty big, so if you have small hands I’d suggest going down to a DK weight and a smaller needle.  These are for my dad… or maybe my uncle… some man I know with big hands anyway… they’ll sit in the Christmas box until December 20th when I finally will decide who gets them.  That’s how I roll.
I’m loving the big fat worsted weight colorwork stitches.  Tami’s blog has more great WIPs.