Tag Archives: mittens

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.)

Dancing Grannies


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.

Last night, I finished the first of the foot tubes. I’m two days ahead of schedule on those, and it feels awesome. So much of my anxiety about my Christmas knitting was wrapped up in knitting these giant bed socks, but it turned out all I needed was a plan (two inches per day) and they became totally manageable.

Of course, because it’s the holidays and everything going right is boring, I’m starting to worry about my sister’s mittens. I picked out the pattern ages ago and cast on this week. They’re from the same book as Carmen’s mitts, so I had a general ideal of what to worry about going in. I recharted the pattern before starting (see, I’m learning), adding four stitches around and 12 rows to the length of the hand (I also lengthened the cuff). The problem, though, is that I think I’m using the wrong yarn. I’m actually pretty much convinced that I’m using the wrong yarn, but it’s so nice that I don’t want to admit it to myself.

For Carmen’s mittens I used Cascade 220 sport, which is 100% superwash merino and was quite nice to work with. For my sister, though, I chose The Fibre Company Road to China Light. It’s also a sport weight (although it looks quite like fingering), and it’s a blend of alpaca, silk, camel, and cashmere. Can you say soft? I mean, this yarn is so, so soft. So. Soft. It is beautiful to work with and, I think, would prove quite warm and yummy to wear. It is finer than the Cascade, though, so I went up a needle size to balance out the gauge. This thing is, I don’t think it’s enough. I’m worried this yarn isn’t as stretchy as the wool (it isn’t – duh, Angela, silk content) and so while my sister’s hands are a little smaller than mine, I rather suspect she’ll have equal trouble pushing them into this mitt. At least part of this is due to the very long floats required by the Dancing Grannies pattern. I’m keeping my floats extra-loose, but with less-than-stretchy yarn, there’s only so much you can do.

About a third of the way through the hand.

About a third of the way through the hand.

So this is where I have to make the tough choice: Push ahead and risk ending up with a finished mitten that’s definitely too small, and realize there isn’t enough time to replace it; push ahead and witness a knitting miracle in which the finished mitten is the perfect size and totally beloved by my sister; or suck it up – rip it out and start over with a different yarn (I have some Louet Gems sport weight in acceptable colours in my stash). What would you do? I’m leaning toward ripping, but first I’m going to try blocking what I have. It’ll still be on the needles, but maybe the yarn will grow enough to give me hope (yes, that’s right, I didn’t swatch. Ugh.) I have to decide this weekend, though. If I restart on Monday (or, better yet, Sunday night) I’ll still make it, but any later than that and it’ll be very tight.

At least the foot tubes are working out?

The never ending tea cozy


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.

Yesterday, I finished the tea cozy. Or, I at least bound-off, but in this case that isn’t really finishing. First of all, I don’t like how it looks, so I’m going to have to rip it out anyway, which is annoying, but should be worth it in the end. Secondly, this thing is going to be lined, which will give it both structure and warmth, and that still needs to be done. Honestly, this tea cozy is never ending. (As before, photos at the bottom.)

I have a plan, though. When I bound off the first time, I used a three-needle bind-off and, honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking. I hate the ridge; I knew I would hate the ridge; I did it anyway. Stupid. So, I’m going to rip it out. I’m also going to take about a half-inch off the top (if you’re ripping, why not go big, right?) and try something else. I think this might be a little crazy, but I’m going to try shaping the top of this tea cozy the same way Elizabeth Zimmerman shaped the bottom of her moccasin socks. I know.


The thing is, I don’t want a rounded, almost-pointy top. I want to decrease to a point, and then have a sort of smooth flat-ish top (it sounds better in my head). The only trouble with that is how to shape it. I don’t want a rectangle – which I have now – so I’m casting about for ways to make it rounder – any ideas? I came up with the moccasin sock idea because (and I’m little embarrassed, so don’t judge) I was looking for a post-Christmas knitting project. I need a carrot to finish in time (or even early) and I like knitting socks for myself over the holidays, so I was planning. It’s just a little motivational push, and I think that’s mostly okay since it isn’t like I’m casting on or anything*.

Okay, that sad little admission out there and I’m going back to the tea cozy. And also the foot tubes, which are zipping along – I figured I needed to knit two inches a day to be done on time, and so far that has been entirely manageable. If I can get this tea cozy under control I might even cast on mittens today.


*I’m not casting on, but I am thinking about it a lot. I’m thinking I’ll either knit Monkeys in a red skein of indigodragonfly I have in my stash, or a pair of these in a green skein of SweetGeorgia’s Tough Love Sock (kind of similar, I know). What do you think?



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.

No, I am not buried under some big pile of yarn. Nearly, but not quite. That pile I showed you earlier has gotten a little smaller, but it still looms large every time I sit at my desk, which was meant to be inspiring but it starting to be just plain intimidating. It is the last day of November, and I’m not quite where I want to be.

I did finish the mittens for my grandmother (photo and details at the bottom of the post, just in case my family is trying to sneak a peek), and I am very pleased with them. They were a speedy and fun knit, and I now want a pair for myself more than ever. And, in fact, I had had the pattern queued (with the dark brown Maritime Wool in mind) for months. I love this pattern, and I hope my granny will too. So, that’s one more finished thing into the Christmas bag.

The tea cozy continues. I did end up running out of wool, and that plus the mittens has put it back a ways. It only has a couple of inches more to go, though, and since my decreasing has increased (if you see what I mean), each row is getting shorter and quicker, and I think I can buckle down and get it done this weekend. The knitting is only part of it though, since I plan to sew a lining and then sandwich a bat of wool between the lining and the knitted shell. It never ends.

I also cast on and ripped out (twice!) the hat I’m knitting for L. I knit him a hat last year for his birthday and it’s quite fuzzy and sad looking now, so he’s due for a replacement. I love the yarn, found the perfect pattern, and have somehow managed to screw it up twice. I’ve been thinking about it, though, and I have a plan of action now, so I’m thinking third time’s the charm. (Cross your fingers.)

Also on the needles are my grampa’s bed socks (also known fondly as foot tubes). He is a tall man with big feet, so yes, these are going to be big. They are my walking around knitting, and I will be knitting them for the next twenty days – I really, really, hope that’s enough time (bearing in mind that there are a few other knits to fit in too).

Not yet on the needles are my sister’s mittens (these ones), which I estimate will take two weeks or so, and my dad’s hat, which I have yet to chart out. Um, yes. That seems crazy. Twenty-five days – here we go.


I will get a nicer photo one of these days.

Pattern: Wood Hollow Mittens by Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: Cascade 220 in Goldenrod (#7827)
Needles: Addi Lace 3.75 mm
Modifications: Not many, actually. I knit these in the magic loop, so to keep the stitch count even on both needles through the ribbing (I like to end my ribbing on a purl), I cast on 44 stitches and then, after the ribbing, increased to 46. I also needed a little more height before decreasing for the top, so I flipped the chart. After decreasing, it seemed that, despite all the socks I knit, I am incapable of working a smooth Kitchener Stitch in worsted weight (I tried it three times, every time it came out with purl bumps and I have no idea why), so I just turned the mitten inside out and did a three-needle bind-off on the inside. I don’t know if that’s a thing, but it worked. My other work around was that since I seem to have lost my 3.75mm dpns (how? where? I have no idea) I used 3.25mm needles for the thumbs. To compensate, I picked up four extra stitches. You can hardly tell and I suspect (hope) that the difference will block right out. (Ravelled here.)

All in all, this pattern was fun and super fast. I will be making myself a pair (with other modifications) in the New Year.

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?

Mitten surprise


I’m thinking the only reason that Debby Bliss didn’t use that name for these mittens (she calls them “Lacy Mittens“) is because it was too close to EZ’s Baby Surprise. But really, these mittens are a surprise. Why? Well, because you knit them flat, and when you cast off you’re left with this, which to my eyes looks more like part of a baby’s dress or jacket than a mitten.

Photographed against a dark background for contrast.

It does become a mitten, though, which makes you feel very clever once you’ve figured it out. The figuring out part, however, certainly did not make me feel clever. Actually, it made me feel profoundly stupid, because I apparently can’t count to four, or read. I found this out when I started the flower lace part and one side of the mitten looked nice like this

This is right.

and the other somehow just looked like this:

Er. This is very clearly wrong.

What the heck? I would like to blame it on the pattern, which has no chart, but really, I suspect I just can’t count. Since that isn’t really a mistake you can ignore, I ripped back and then discovered something very particular about Kidsilk Haze: namely, that is very sticky and does not like being pulled out. Really doesn’t like being pulled out. In fact, some judicious snipping was required to make that operation a success.

Proper flowers on both sides, plus a flat thumb.

After that, though, it was mostly sailing, including the strange thumb construction and the subsequent seaming up.

There is meant to be a ribbon threaded through those eyelets at the wrist, but I don’t have any, so maybe you could just use your imagination? (Also imagine it blocked.)

These, like the Noro gloves, are not being knit for me, but again they were an interesting knit. Strange that the last two things I’ve knit have been deconstructed fingerless mitts, but there you go. As far as the Noro ones went, the pattern for the cuff absolutely needed to be knit flat; these ones, however, certainly did not. Honestly, if I were to knit this pattern a second time (perhaps someone I know will desperately need gauzy little gloves to wear to a high tea?) I think I’d just rewrite the pattern to knit in the round. There’s no reason not to, and I think the seam looks a little clunky running down the side like that (I’d probably leave the seam in the thumb, though, so as to keep everything as much the same as possible).

Not quite my style, but a success nonetheless.

Edited to add: I realized I hadn’t linked to the pattern in Ravelry, so when I went to find it I discovered there’s errata! Although this isn’t entirely vindication, since my problems occurred earlier in the pattern, it does resolve the problem I had later when my stitches didn’t line up with the pattern instructions (despite meticulous counting – you do not want to rip this more than necessary). I just worked around it to make it right, but still, it wasn’t me being inept, and that is very gratifying indeed.

The gauntlet


Taking pictures of your hand is a little tricky. Sorry.

I finished the first Noro “wrister” this morning (isn’t that a bad name? I think gauntlet is both more accurate and less fetish-suggestive, but whatever). I’m not knitting these for myself, though. Instead, they are for an upcoming fun something, about which I will write at length when the time comes. Until then, be prepared for a smattering of knitting that looks unlike the stuff I would normally choose.

Anyway, I don’t have the ball band for this yarn, but it is Noro (I think Kureyon) in a pink/purple/brown/black colourway. (This is such useless information; if/when I find out what it really is, I’ll update this). The pattern is from Noro Magazine‘s fall 2012 issue, which is actually a really pretty magazine with lots of lovely pictures. The amount of entrelac is frightening, but if you can get past that, it’s kind of like InStyle, but entirely knitwear.

The wrist part looks disproportionately giant, but I assure you it looks less so when worn.

This is my first time knitting with Noro and, well, it’s a little different. It is fun to watch the yarn change colours (and this particular pattern seems to be written so that each block of colour last for about one chart repeat, which is pleasing), but it’s also a little like knitting with a dreadlock. It isn’t unpleasant (which is weird, given that description), but if you’re used to smooth sock yarns, it’s a very big change.

The striping is surprisingly hypnotizing.


The pattern wasn’t difficult, but it was an interesting knit because the cuff is knit flat and then you join the piece in the round to start the ribbing and knit the hand. I haven’t knit mittens like this before, so it was kind of fun to try out a new construction technique. Also, even though you can’t quite see it in the pictures, the pattern involves both a sort of faux-cable and lace, which shows up like a little surprise when you put them on.

They may not be my style now, but I know my 8-year-old self is deeply coveting them, so perhaps you know someone who would just die to add these to their back to school wardrobe.

CanLit Knit is this Sunday! I am reading Better Living Through Plastic Explosives by Zsuzsi Gartner right now and it is excellent and interesting and weird. I promise I will have more astute observations on Sunday. If you want to come but have not yet rsvp’d (in the comments, through e-mail, or via Twitter), please do. We’re hoping for lovely weather and an afternoon of knitting and lit chatting in the sun, so you should probably come.
More details here.

Wintry Weekend


Toronto has had a pretty pathetic winter so far, with temperatures ping-ponging above and below freezing and more rain than snow. So, when we woke up Saturday morning and it was snowing (and had clearly snowed most of the night), we decided to take advantage of it.

It was early enough that most of the snow was still untouched, although all along the streets in our neighbourhood people were out shovelling their driveways and the sidewalks in front of their houses. We saw a lot of little kids excited for an excuse to wear their snowsuits.

Speaking of which (although only sort of): I knit this scarf in early January when I was still gearing up for the cold and snowy winter that seemed imminent.

I may get around to writing a proper post about it (with a more representative photo), but in the meantime, the easy details are that it’s knit with Cascade Eco+ on 6 mm needles. It is cosy and warm and goes surprisingly well with my bright read coat. Also knit with Cascade Eco+ are my Diamond-Backed mitts (pattern, and less blurry photo, forthcoming).

We had a lovely walk and a busy rest of the day, so on Sunday we decided to be homebodies. We’ve been watching the new season of BBC’s Sherlock, and oh, it is excellent. I knit through the first episode and then we decided it was time to make some lunch. What could be more perfect for a cold and lazy day than pizza? The recipe for the dough and sauce are below; toppings-wise we used Buffalo mozzarella, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, and capers one the first and all those things plus red onion on the second. Yum yum.

Yeast-free dough:

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 med. potato, mashed
1. Combine dry ingredients. Add mashed potato and olive oil. Mix together while slowly adding water.
2. Turn onto lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5-7 minutes). Shape and layer with toppings.
3. Bake at 450F for 15-25 minutes (depending on thickness of toppings, desired crispiness, etc.)
(Makes dough for one pizza).

For tomato sauce, I use one can of Marzano tomatoes (remove about 1/2 cup of the liquid), gently mash the tomatoes with a spoon and season with salt and pepper (if you want it a little bit spicy, add some chili flakes). Freeze whatever you don’t use for later.