Ready for the next cold snap: new mittens

posted in: Knitting | 2

These mittens were initially seen in my December 28 post, very early in their process. The impetus: cold weather and inadequate gloves and mittens; need for travel knitting; a kind gift from LynnH at ColorJoy! of a lovely skein of Araucania kettle-dyed wool and Lynn's own pattern for "toe-up" mittens . . . knitted from the tip, without need for a gauge swatch.

Here's a reprise of their first appearance:

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There is a wee bit at the start of the pattern where you can decide whether you're working with the needles you want or not. Then you launch away. I am a TRUE believer in the value of gauge and I knit swatches and swatches and swatches. It's also exquisite, now and then, to make something without swatching. Especially something that (1) needs to fit and (2) does, perfectly, when completed.

Lynn's instructions suit the beginner or the running-out-the-door experienced knitter (I was catching a plane when I started these). I can't think of another project I could have pulled together to my satisfaction in five minutes as I was leaving town.

Because of the wicked wind we'd been facing, I wanted mittens that were as nearly windproof and moisture-resistant as possible. We walk the dogs at least twice a day, and we maybe . . . MAYBE . . . skip one day a year. Our fourteen-year-old Border collie-ish pup insists that only the most dire weather is an excuse not to walk. Even then she is doubtful about the wisdom of staying in. She has pretty serious arthritis. She ADORES snow. Arguing with a Border collie (even one who looks like she has a bit of spaniel blood) does not go well. She looks so cheerfully insistent.

You wouldn't think this would demand walks in sleet and blizzards, would you?

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She does.

We put a coat on her, and sometimes try to convince her to wear booties (not a big hit), and out we go.

The Araucania wool in this weight comes with a manufacturer's suggested gauge of 18 stitches/4 inches (10cm), or about 4.5 stitches/inch. I began knitting at a gauge that I thought would fend off the elements. Here's another reminder of mitten-in-progress, from the trip.

Mitten-tip_2071

The finished mittens measure a remarkable 9 stitches/inch (36/10cm) and I am delighted with them. They are extremely firm but not stiff.

Lynn's pattern includes an easy thumb variation that would work well in most circumstances.

As I knitted along, though, I realized that my fabric was not going to have much give. It would flex, but that was different. So I decided that my thumb needed to be constructed differently.

So when I reached the end of the palm area, I cast on about a third as many stitches as I had in the hand and continued to knit in the round, decreasing out 2 stitches in every 4th round, one on either side of the newly cast-on set, until I was down to 1 stitch at the base of the thumb, which was at the wrist. I could have gotten by with doing the decreases every 3rd round, but this worked. I knitted a round even and then returned to Lynn's instructions: knitted the ribbing, and picked up stitches for the thumb and completed that.

Then, of course, the second mitten.

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They look a little long through the hand, don't they? I knitted them for myself, with me personally available to try them on so I could decide when the hand was finished, how long the thumb should be, and so on.

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My daughter tried them on. While she can wear them, they don't fit her hands. They do fit mine.

I still don't know how they'll do in the wind and snow, because it hasn't been awful in the few days since I bound off and wove in the ends, but I think they're going to be fantastic. I know they'll be more weather-resistant than any of the hand-wear I had.

Actually, I'm planning to order some of Lynn's hand-dyed sock yarn to make a second pair. I like her Flammegarn especially well. It's fun and interesting to knit (and when knitted) but doesn't try to upstage everything else I'm wearing. I'm going to need another mellow and low-input knitting project because I've got a work in progress for a book for another publisher. It can't really show up here, but it's a lovely color.

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2 Responses

  1. Love the color!
    I have to admit, I’m one of those fearless folk who jump in without a swatch. I figure the first run at a pattern *is* the swatch… If I luck out, so much the better; if not, then first time was just practice!
    Empiricist is my middle name… 8)

  2. What fun–looks, by the weather forecast, like you’ll get to try them this weekend! Then there’s always March around here…..As for swatching, one of these days, you need to get someone to put all your swatches together–they’d be an incredible quilt-top for your bed!

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