Wool in the wild


camping1It’s weekends like the one was just had that make me so, so glad that I’m a knitter. L and I, and our friends Sam and Carmen, went camping in almost-Northern Ontario (almost northern because we didn’t go as far as, say, Sudbury or North Bay, but were north of Barrie – this will mean nothing to you if you aren’t from around here, but if you’re curious about where we were, here it is on a map). Basically, it was far enough north to already be fall, which meant it was not exactly warm.

It rained for most of the first day, but it wasn’t too hard, and there were some breaks, and it was warm-ish rain, so none of us really minded. The temperature dropped quite a bit over night, though, and it can’t have been warmer than 8 Celsius the next morning (that’s about 45 Fahrenheit). It was cold and still overcast when we set out for our second site. By the time we got there (about an hour of canoeing) Carmen and I were freezing. It was quite windy and the site, while gorgeous, was very exposed. We set up a windscreen and put up the tents and then L and Sam (impervious to cold) went for an afternoon paddle while Carmen and I tried to warm up.

Here I am, trying to start a fire (with great success a few minutes later). For the record, I'm wearing wool socks, hiking boots, two pairs of pants, a wicking t-shirt, a wool base layer, a medium-weight base layer, a fleece jacket, a rain coat, my shawl, and mitts – and I was still cold.

Here I am, trying to start a fire (with great success a few minutes later). For the record, I’m wearing wool socks, hiking boots, two pairs of pants, a wicking t-shirt, a wool base layer, a medium-weight base layer, a fleece jacket, a rain coat, my shawl, and mitts – and I was still cold.

Luckily, I brought a lot of wool. In addition to a wool base layer, I brought four pairs of hand knit socks (one for each day and a fourth for sleeping – my sleeping bag is rated up to -25 Celsius, but I still need wool socks to keep my feet warm when then temperature drops to single digits); my Sweet Street shawl, which was lightweight and warm and wrapped snuggly around my neck twice, and was basically perfect; and a pair of Camp Out Fingerless Mitts that I decided I really needed about 36 hours before we left and finished in the car on the way there – I will never go camping without a pair of these mitts again.


I was in a rush when I cast on and didn’t read the instructions properly (what is it about simple-looking patterns that makes me think I don’t have to read the directions?). Anyway, I cast on nearly three-times as many stitches as necessary for the cuffs that go around the fingers. This part is knit sideways, though, so they didn’t end to too big, just very long. I was a little annoyed about this (I only had a few hours to knit these and three times as many stitches means three times as long) but when I put them on I realized it was one of those happy accidents. At full-length, they were kind of like open-ended mittens, which made them warm while still giving me the full use of my hands.


Rolled-down, they were the perfect fingerless-mitts height, and also doubly warm around my palm. That easy convertibility meant I basically didn’t take them off for three days. They’re a bit felted now (I wore them while paddling) and could use a good wash, but they were exactly what I needed and I’m already planning to knit another pair with a couple of other mods (the main one being to pick up stitches around the thumb and knit three or four garter ridges up, since my thumb did get a little chilly).

This pink sky at night did indeed portend a sailor's (or, canoeist's) delight the next day.

This pink sky at night did indeed portend a sailor’s (or, canoeist’s) delight the next day.

Our last day, yesterday, was absolutely gorgeous. It was that perfect fall day when the sky is a deep, endless blue, and the wind is low so the water is just slightly rippled, like antique glass. It was warm in the sun and our paddle out was perfect. It’s the kind of weather you hope for, and I’m glad we got at least one day of it; even if it was our shortest, it was the perfect way to end the weekend.

Pattern: Camp Out Fingerless Mitts by tante ehm
Yarn: Cascade Eco+ in Lake Chelan Heather (shade #9451) from my stash
Needle: 4.5mm
Mods: Mainly just casting on too many stitches initially. I also shortened the hands/arms because I was in a hurry, and added four rows of 1×1 rib to the bottom. When I knit the next pair, I’ll add a couple of garter ridges to the top so I can pick up a few more stitches for the hand. I’ll also knit up the thumb a bit and, before the bottom ribbing, I’ll cast on a few stitches just to make the bottom a little stretchier. I pulled these on just fine, but even with a loose cast-off, they were tight coming over my hands. I’d probably knit them longer too. Ravelled here.


How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? I brought my Skyp socks with me, but didn’t manage to knit more than a few rows while we were camping (and a few inches in the car on the way home).

15 thoughts on “Wool in the wild

  1. Pat(ricia)

    It sounds like a great weekend getaway – glad that you had all those layers though … it’s been damn cold these past few nights …. so yup, layer away. Actually camping at this time of year, although less warm has its advantages, yes? Like less bugs! Always a bonus. Great fingerless mitts, even if they weren’t knitted according to instruction – they turned out to be just perfect for what you needed. it’s always hard to keep the fingers and toes warm.

    Glad you had a great time …. and love the picture of the foliage …. looks like it’s from around here — I’m a Canuck living in the Lauretians (Quebec) … so north … but not too far north. 🙂

    1. Angela Hickman Post author

      You’re right, there are definitely advantages to camping at this time of year! Not only are there fewer bugs, there are fewer campers, which means more choices when it comes to sites. We did see quite a few people, but I wouldn’t describe the park as busy.

      The Laurentians are so beautiful, and must just be getting some colour at this time of year. I’ve been a couple of times, but never in the fall.

      1. Pat(ricia)

        The colors are on — seems to early for my liking, but it’s really beautiful. We’re lucky we get to experience the magic of the changing colors – imagine if it was green all the time? Lol … but then again, I’m not such a huge fan of winter and snow … but fall is lovely.

        Glad you had a great weekend and I hope your week is wonderful …. let’s give another happy smile to warmer weather heading our way 🙂

  2. teaspoonofmel

    Looks like it was a great trip – and I feel your pain about always being cold. My most recent experience was a football game, where i had several thick layers and was freezing, and everyone had two layers, and said how nice a day it was.
    I love the fingerless mittens, especially the color. Good work!

  3. Audry

    It sounds like you had an excellent adventure.

    And before you had said anything about making the hand portion of the mitt too long, I was thinking, “How clever. You can roll it up or down.”

  4. Forrest

    I went camping on the water as well, on Ross Lake in the North Cascades of Washington. Stayed up stargazing one night (brrrrr!), and got rained on the next evening. I’m not really one for making my own gear, it just isn’t a talent I have, but I put in some time and effort to cut up a nice cashmere sweater and sew the pieces back together as a pillow case. It was a little bit of luxury. 🙂

    Could have used some nice convertible mitts, though!

  5. Cassy

    I think your version of the mitts was a brilliant mistake! Cold is an enemy that we knitters are constantly arming ourselves against. My husband would loooooooooove to get me to go camping. Cold is probably better than bugs, but I’d hate hate hate getting out of the sleeping bag in the morning.

  6. Felicity from Down Under

    As an Aussie, I’m sort of relieved to hear you say that 8 degrees is cold. We think so but mostly get laughed at by folk from cold climes. All I can say is that, when I’m out there taking photos at rowing training in the early mornings, I could definitely use some delightful mitts like yours. What a happy accident that you created something so versatile and truly useful.

    1. Angela Hickman Post author

      Haha. Well, it’s all relative. 8C in the fall feels freezing, but 8C in the spring feels like magic. Isn’t temperature/weather funny that way?

      1. Felicity from Down Under

        Yes, I agree, all quite relative. I once came home to zero degrees from a holiday where we’d experienced minus 40. I’d normally have been creating a fuss about how cold it was at home, but after the minus 40? Practically sunbathing weather! Good knitting weather, either way. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Warm hands | Pans & Needles

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