Tag Archives: fair isle

Effing magestic



The moose gloves are done. They’ve actually been done for a week, but we had to wait until the weekend for a proper photo shoot, but L wore them for the first time two weeks after his birthday and proclaimed them quite warm, but not wind proof. He is quite pleased with the moose.

I still can't believe how much they look like moose.

I still can’t believe how much they look like moose.

These gloves were basically a year in the making – it was around this time last year that L first saw the pattern and I first said I would knit them for him if he bought me the book, which he did – and in a way they cap off a lot of what I’ve learned about knitting stranded colourwork, including a decent understanding of yarn dominance (that is, that the colour stranded along the bottom will pop the most), tension, and pattern modification. Although, that being said, of all the patterns I’ve knit out of this book so far, this is the one I altered the least.


This is my first proper finished project of 2013, and I think my year is off to an auspicious start. There’s something nice about knowing my first project was a gift, and that it involved trying something new (I’d never knit fingers before). It makes me quite excited to see where the rest of the year takes me.


Pattern: The Moose at Sundown by Annemor Sundbo
Yarn: Harrisville Designs Shetland in Red and Charcoal
Needles: 2.75mm for the cuff and 3.25mm for everything else (I used a magic loop)
Modifications: Not too many, really. I knit these in a wooly fingering weight yarn instead of the sport weight the pattern called for, and also went up several needle sizes to achieve the right size (although, I probably could have gotten away with a 3mm needle for the hands, but oh well). The Harrisville Shetland was lovely to work with and I am seriously considering ordering a whole bunch more – it’s wooly and sticky, making it perfect for stranded colourwork with longish floats, but when washed it softens up and blooms, becoming more like a sport weight. I loved it.
Design-wise, I added seven rows of length to the hand (on the back of the hand: an additional plain row, three rows of alternating red/grey, like in the cuff chart, and then an additional three plain rows; on the palm I just continued in pattern). I also doubled the length of the ribbing and added an extra plain row between the cuff and the hand charts.
All the details are Ravelled here.

*If you’re wondering about the title for this post, it’s from this comic (not a moose, but it was still L’s reaction).


Needed: eight fingers, two thumbs


First, we had an amazing time in New York. Thank you so much for your suggestions! I’m still catching up a little, so a full New York post is coming tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a status update on the moose gloves. I did not get them finished for L’s birthday. In fact, I didn’t even bring them to New York, so on his birthday there was only one hand finished, and it was missing all its digits. Oh well. I buckled down this weekend and managed to be both social (CanLit Knit met yesterday and is still going strong), watch the entire second season of Downton Abbey, and knit the entire second hand. Where did all that time come from?



I’m a little puzzled as to why the moose look so different (is it just me, or is the one on the right older looking?), but overall I’m pleased. I’m excited to see them blocked, with fingers and thumbs, so that’s my project for this week. Ideally, I’d like to get them to L on Thursday, which would be one week late, but all in all not so bad; it’s more likely I’ll need another weekend to get them tidied away, though. I will keep you posted!

Backs! (I made a little mistake on the palm of the left glove, but it isn't bothering me, so I'm not ripping back. If I change my mind later, I'll duplicate stitch it.)

Backs! (I made a little mistake on the palm of the left glove, but it isn’t bothering me, so I’m not ripping back. If I change my mind later, I’ll duplicate stitch it.)

I hope you all had lovely weekends and tomorrow let me tell you about New York.

There’s a moose in these mittens!


Well, okay, technically they’re gloves, but since I’m not at the fingers yet it doesn’t matter. What does matter, though, is that the moose is starting to appear, and he is looking very moose-y indeed.

I cast on for these mittens gloves (L does not wear mittens) on Saturday, which is a pretty late start considering that his birthday is on Thursday. Honestly, I was just so tired of working on deadline stuff that I wanted to just knit for myself for a few days. Of course, now I’m under the gun and L probably won’t get these on his birthday, which he says he’s okay with (I suspect he’s weighing an on-time birthday gift against my mental health, and I’m pleased to see he values the latter more).

Anyway, moose gloves. I cast on on Saturday and by the end of the day I was finished the cuff and feeling quite pleased with myself.

The red is proving very hard to photograph and, while it is bright, it's not quite this garish.

The red is proving very hard to photograph and, while it is bright, it’s not quite this garish.

I then had virtually no glove-knitting time on Sunday or Monday, but did manage to squeeze in a little time on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. I worked on them a bit this morning and am only eight rows from the top of the hand (as charted, I might add a few extra rows for safety). I have never knit gloves before, but I’ve been trying these on L as I go, and so far I think they’re working out.

It really does look like a moose, doesn't it?

It really does look like a moose, doesn’t it?

Ideally I’d like to buckle down and get this one mostly finished this weekend, but I’m going to a baby shower on Sunday and since the sweater I’m going to knit still looks like this

The parents aren't telling whether it's a boy or a girl, but I think this can go either way. (In case you're curious, it's Indigodragonfly DK Superwash in "Fringe Over Troubled Water")

The parents aren’t telling whether it’s a boy or a girl, but I think this can go either way. (In case you’re curious, it’s Indigodragonfly DK Superwash in “Fringe Over Troubled Water”)

well, I think baby knitting might take priority. On the other hand, maybe I’ll just knit a little hat for the shower and deliver the sweater later (thus leaving time to hopefully tackle at least a few fingers)? The baby isn’t due until the end of March, so in my head this seems like a reasonable plan – what do you think?

Just like starting over


Standard Holiday Warning: If you are a member of my family, I love you, but if you read any further do so knowing that you will ruin Christmas.

So, I made the hard decision. I went into the stash, assessed the Louet Gems colourways I had in there, chose two that approximated the colours I really wanted to be using, and then sat down to start again. Then I started thinking about the pattern, and how much recharting and fiddling the Dancing Grannies mittens were going to require (and then realized these need to be done by the 20th) and decided to start over again – new yarn, new pattern, new mitts. I’ve abandoned the plan, and while I know it was the right thing to do, I’m feeling a little time crunched and nervous about it.

I’m knitting these Lily mittens instead. They’re from the same book, and did require recharting (I’m adding a fourth layer of blossoms and an extra set of thumb increases, as well as borders), but it was pretty straightforward. Also, I realized that part of the trouble with the Dancing Grannies was that the floats were too long to allow for maximum stretchiness. That, combined with such a fine yarn made for mittens that were likely to end up too tight to be comfortable. The Louet is gorgeous and springy and has amazing stitch definition, so while it isn’t as fancy as the Road to China, it is still going to produce some pretty lovely mittens.

The colour is weird here, but it's a sort of light, leafy green with navy blue.

The colour is weird here, but it’s a sort of light, leafy green with navy blue.

(In case you were wondering, I didn’t actually rip out the other ones. I was going to, but I know someone with narrow hands who would probably love them, so they’re sitting on waste yarn and will one day be finished.)

Wedding Mittens


On Sunday, I got a front-row seat (well, I was standing, but you know what I mean) to watch two of our very dear friends get married. It was wonderful. You know how sometimes you get the feeling that a moment couldn’t be any more perfect, that everything is right and nothing could be added to make it any better? Yeah, that was Carmen and Sam’s wedding.

Yes, their wedding had an ice cream truck. Amazing, right?

We were worried it was going to rain, and it did rain a little in the morning, but it was over before we had to head to the church, and the light was perfectly flat for the photos, and everything was lush (thanks to the rain) and everyone was happy and beautiful. Truly, a perfect day.

Anyway, remember those mittens I was knitting? Well, I totally got them done in time. I finished them last Wednesday, giving them a good three days to block and dry – I spent the night before the wedding in the hotel with Carmen, which is when I wanted to give them to her. I didn’t post photos last week because I didn’t want to risk spoiling the surprise, but now that she has them I can show you how they turned out.

I had to take photos on kind of an overcast day. Nonetheless, they look okay.

I’m really pleased. They fit perfectly (thank goodness) and after a little swish in some water, they smoothed right out. The yarn also bloomed every so slightly, making them softer and filling out all the stitches. The recharted tops look pretty natural (although I’d do the palm side a little differently if I were doing them again), and all in all I think they were a pretty good gift.

Pattern: Mittens with a Red Thread by Annemor Sundbo
Yarn: Cascade 220 Sport in Silver Grey (1946) and Royal Purple (803) – I used almost the entire skein of purple, but have almost half of the grey leftover.
Needles: 2.75 mm ChiaoGoo Knit Lace Red
Modifications: Probably the biggest mod was recharting the top of the mitten to add an extra half-inch to the overall length. I also chose to knit these entirely in magic loop (including the thumb), because it was easier to follow the chart when the palm stitches were on one needles and the back of the hand stitches were on the other. Otherwise, I pretty much followed the pattern as written – the only red thread I used was to hold my thumb stitches. I thought that was fair. (They are ravelled here.)

In a tight spot


You know that moment in knitting when you realize something is wrong, and you get annoyed, and then you realize that to fix it will require drastic measures and you get really annoyed? That’s where I am. And, I’m sorry to say, it’s with the mittens.

I still love these mittens. I love their colourwork, and their dotted border, and the way the design combines both geometrics and floral elements. I love all those things. What I don’t love is that they are going to be an inch too short. Yes, you read that right. Last night, I started the decreases for the lovely pointy top these mittens are destined to have, and then I thought I should measure. As they stand now, before decreases, the length of the hand is 5 inches. I need it to be 7 inches. It seemed unlikely I’d be decreasing for 2 inches, but I thought, you know, maybe? So I counted by row gauge (something I obviously should have done sooner) and discovered that I’m getting about 10 rows to an inch. Fine. Then I counted the number of rows left in the charted pattern: 14 – so, approximately 1.5 inches. That leaves me a half inch short, and that’s just enough to be uncomfortable.

If these were normal mittens, I would just slow down the decreases, but I’m not sure that approach will work here, since it’s so neatly charted.

This means, if I go the slower-decreases route, that I will have to rechart the friggin’ thing.

Then it occurred to me, though, that this pattern offers gauges for both men and women. I’m doing the women’s version (tighter gauge), but even with a bigger gauge, men’s hands are much larger, so I thought maybe the pattern had directions to take that into account. Er, not really. This is the advice: “Continue in charted pattern to top of mitten. The length of the mitten can be adjusted for either a woman’s or man’s size. Have the person who will wear the mitten try it on to make sure it fits.” Less than helpful, right? I mean, it doesn’t say where I should go about adding length, although clearly I should have paid more attention to this issue to begin with.

So, this still leaves me with a problem. I need to, somehow, add an additional five or six rows to this mitten. If this had occurred to me at the beginning (why didn’t it occur to me!?) I would have added five rows to the bottom, right after the ribbing. This is half the hight of one repeat of the palm pattern, and would have blended easily enough into the front. But, I really, really don’t want to rip this all the way back, which is, I suppose, Option 1.

Option 2 is to try recharting the top so that I decrease on every-other round for five or six rounds (which ever works out better in the chart) and hope it doesn’t look stupid on the front. If possible, I’d like to maintain how tidy the pal looks, with the tip of the diamond in the tip of the hand, but maybe that’s not possible? (I will try very hard; these are a gift, after all).

Option 3, is a sort of compromise: Rip back to the top of the first flower, add two more “empty” rows between them, knit back up to the top, decrease slightly slower, hope that buys me enough space.

What do you think?

**Edited to add: Independent of this post, L just called to suggest Option 3. Apparently my dilemma has been weighing on his mind too!**

– – –

Now, a note on something about these mittens that is going well (if you still trust my judgement after this). After the last post, Anastasia asked if I had any tips on maintaining tension. I read up on this quite a bit before I started knitting these. One great resource was Knitting With Two Colours by Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen, especially the part about yarn dominance.

In my past forays with stranded colourwork, I didn’t think it mattered which colour was held below and which was held above, so I switched it up. Turns out that’s not such a good idea. Especially if you’re holding your yarn in two hands, it’s important to maintain the order. For me, that means grey is always in my left hand (making it the dominant, popping colour) and the purple is always in my right hand.

The other thing I noticed was that I had to be really careful about tugging my yarn. I’m used to knitting English, which is tighter than continental. That means, I’m always tempted to pull my purple sections tighter than I can knit my grey ones. For me to achieve a more or less even tension, I’ve had to let the purple loosen up a bit. I also make sure to pull out my floats a little bit, keeping them looser than I think they should be, just so they don’t pull the fabric in.

Anastasia, does that make sense? As far as rhythm goes, you’ll get it after a few rows. The nice thing about stranded colourwork is that even if your fabric is a little less tight than usual, it’s double-thick, so it’s still warm and opaque.

Fair Isle is a good gift


So, after all that antsy-ness about the shawl, I have yet to cast it on. I was going to. But then I looked at a calendar and realized that I’m entering into a time crunch. The thing is, friends of ours are getting married in three weeks. I’m the bridesmaid, L is the groomsman, our friends are lovely people, so I wanted to knit the bride a little something. I thought about a shawl, or a hat, or a cowl, and then, way back in June, decided that what would be a really nice, useful, and pretty gift would be a pair of Norwegian fair isle mittens from the book L gave me for my birthday (I’m knitting “Mittens with a Red Thread,” but without the red thread).

I got in touch with the groom to make sure I went with the right colours, I bought the yarn, heck, I even swatched! And then, well, then I did nothing. Or, rather, I went away to Nova Scotia and knit half a pair of Jaywalkers. Then I knit a baby sweater.

I am teaching this little cardigan at EweKnit, so I had to knit up a shop sample. Cute, right?

That’s not nothing, but neither is is mittens. Anyway, I was starting to feel some pre-wedding panic last week (my dress needs alterations) and, in the midst of that, I realized I hadn’t started the mittens. I cast on and started the rib on Thursday night, and was half-way through the first motif by last night.

This is kind of a crapy photo since it’s overcast today, but you get the idea.

This is by no means fast, but it’s certainly faster than I was expecting. And honestly, I’m pretty pleased by how they’re turning out. I’m knitting them in a magic loop, because after a few rounds on dpns I realized it made much, much more sense to keep the palm stitches on one side and the back of the hand stitches on the other. I’m also knitting these two-handed. Remember when I learned continental knitting? Well, I must admit that I haven’t practiced since, but I sure am glad to be using it now.

Palm plus ribbing. The red yarn there is holding my thumb stitches. You can especially see the dpn vs magic loop difference here. I’m hoping it will block out…

I’m holding the grey in my left hand and the purple in my right and it is going well. My tension is even, my floats are long enough to stretch without being so long they’ll snag fingers, and I’ve only had to tink back a couple of times. That, though, was due to my trouble reading the minuscule chart. I have a system now, but back at the beginning, it was tough.

I’m hoping to have this one (minus the thumb) done by the end of the week. Am I crazy?