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

 

Most of a mitt

My Winter Twilight Mitts have been trucking along nicely.  All that is missing from the first one is the ribbing at the top of the thumb.

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My Christmas gift to myself this year was an iPad.  One of the best apps I’ve found so far is GoodReader.  It is a PFD reader and editor and it is great for knitting patterns.  I can “mark up” a PDF of a pattern, highlight the size I’m making, or follow along in my chart.  I can draw a line on the chart and move it as needed when I complete a row.  It’s been so helpful for keeping my place as I pick up and put down this project.
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Since I can’t really watch TV while I work on these, I’ve been taking them to knit-chat or working on them while listening to an audio book.  I just finished listening to the Hunger Games and loved it.  It’s very similar to Battle Royale (which I also loved) plot-wise–bunch of kids forced to fight to the death by a ruthless government.  If you don’t like violence/are squeamish I’d advise against picking this one up.  Otherwise it’s totally enthralling from about 20 minutes (couldn’t tell you in pages) onward.  I really want to start the next one, but it’s only available in hardcover (don’t like buying hardcover books) and I don’t get my next audible credit until the 22nd.  Resisting the urge to just buy it anyway.  I got the book per a recommendation on the Yarn Harlot’s blog then 2 days later learned they are making it into a movie.  I can’t wait to see how true they stay to the book.  They did a great job with Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so I have a bit of faith in Hollywood right now.

Test Knit Mitts

In February I was given the great privilege of being able to test-knit Anna Sudo’s new pattern Spiral Staircase Mitts. The pattern is exceptionally well written. Even though the pattern is intuitive after the first few rounds, Anna has each round carefully written out so that if you think you might be lost (or if you are constantly picking up and setting down projects like I am) you can easily find exactly where you are. Here are the palms of the mitts.

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As you can see, these are long mitts, that go about halfway up the forearm. The 1×1 twisted ribbing is slowly replaced with stockinette in a spiral created with simple YOs and decreases. (As usual, the Portland spring has supplied no sunshine for picture taking so you get nasty inside fluorescent light photos.) The spiral continues around to the back of the hand and stops under your pinkie finger.

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One of the things I really like about these mitts is how far up your fingers they go (especially for me since I have small fingers.) It provides maximum warmth while still allowing your fingers to be free. I did find that it was hard to type while wearing them because they don’t allow your fingers to spread out far enough, but my solution to this was to simply fold the top down while typing.

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One of the things I don’t really like about these mitts is that the YOs on the left mitt make very large holes, whereas the YOs on the right mitt make very small almost invisible holes. I think this is because on one mitt they are placed before the decrease and on one mitt they are placed after the decrease. I don’t really like holes in my mitts (seems impractical to me) so If I made these again, I would probably correct this by doing all the increases with a backward-loop M1 which would produce no holes at all.

My mitts are made from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in colorway Bittersweet Heather which looks black in some lights and brown in others. It’s leftover from the Into the Woods kit. I decided that I’m not making the mitts that came with the kit, so the extra yarn will be cannibalized as attractive projects present themselves. I used 1.5 skeins for these mitts.

Lotus

I have recently been expanding my hat wardrobe. I have decided that hats go with most of my casual day to day wear and are a great way to 1) stay warm and 2) cover up a bad hair day. My newest addition to my hat wardrobe is this.

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It’s the Lotus Hat by UptownPurl and it can be found free on her blog. It’s a very simple 8 row zig-zag lace repeat that makes beautiful vine-like motifs running up the hat.

I made a few changes to the pattern as written but they were so minor and mostly based on other ravelers’ suggestions. I did the 1×1 ribbing as twisted rib instead of normal. I did the ribbing for 10 rows instead of 6. I knit 4 repeats of the pattern before decreasing instead of 3 to make it come down over my ears. That’s all. Not minor changes, but worth mentioning if you want your hat to look “just” like this one.

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This is the hat blocking over a balloon… my new favorite way to block hats. A bag of balloons was less that $2 at Target (in the area with the birthday wrapping paper) and it’s so much faster than blocking by laying flat. I just blew up a balloon to 21″ circumference and put the hat on it. No having to constantly flip the hat to make sure both sides are drying, no having to rotate how the hat is laying so that it doesn’t dry with a crease, AND it drys 3x as fast because the wet layers aren’t sitting on top of each other keeping the moisture in.

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The best part of the hat is the crown where the decreases make the vines spiral together beautifully.

I used Malabrigo Merino Worsted in colorway Black Forest. According to my yarn scale, this took 50.5 g of yarn, so just a bit over half a skein. This was leftover from my earlier Botanic hat, where I used it as the secondary color, and even after both hats I still have 33 g left. I’m thinking I will just be able to squeeze a short pair of fingerless mitts out of it.

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Action shot! Also, a picture of my fuzzy mitts from last post where they can be seen in actual use… and in sunlight no less. Much thanks to the Portland weather gods for sending a bit of sunshine our way.

Warm hands, warm heart

My grandma always says “warm hands, warm heart” which I think means that having warm hands is proof that you are a “warm-hearted” person. This does not bode well for me because my fingers are always cold. Recently I’ve been craving a pair of fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm and still allow me to use my computer (my school says they’re being “green” by keeping the classrooms freezing cold, but I suspect is has more to do with being cheap…) I was in my LYS, and they had a sample of this simple pattern, and it stole my heart.

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This pattern is Brushed Suri Mitts by Merri Fromm. I used the exact yarn called for Blue Sky Alpacas Brushed Suri. The yarn is 67% baby Suri alpaca, 22% merino, and 11% bamboo. It’s a halo yarn like Kid Silk Haze from Rowan or Suri Dream from Knit Picks. There is a “core” to the yarn that fuzzy alpaca fluffs out from. The pattern only takes about 75% of a skein.

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It’s not super clear from my bad photos (we had a week of gloom w/ no natural light at all when I took them, now that the sun has returned I should go outside and take some more) but one mitt is actually about an inch shorter than the other. That is because after you knit the thumb gusset you are supposed to knit straight for 10 rounds before actually separating the thumb… I forgot to do this on the second mitt. I love this bunches, so I bought another skein and I will make one long (correct) mitt and one short (leaving out the 10 rows) then then have a pair for myself and a pair that I can give away (or a backup).

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This photo is blurry, but it shows the halo coming off the gloves well. I was worried that I would find them itchy because of the high alpaca content and because of the halo, but they’re pretty much the softest most comfortable thing ever and I wear them all the time.