Hello, and thank you so much for all your kind well wishes! For those of you with a similar bug: I hope you’ll get well soon. I’m not exactly brimming with energy yet, but grateful to be feeling much better, and glad to be able to pick up the thread of my blog, too.
So, here is the post I’d planned to write before I fell ill, about a pair of mittens I’ve knit for our daughter and the lessons I’ve learnt from them. The first reason I chose these mittens is their beautiful design details. Nice braids and a zigzag pattern on the cuffs and 8-point stars on the top.
A diamond pattern on the palm and a lovely motif on the thumbs.
The funny thing is that these mittens have a decidedly Norwegian look, but were designed by someone from Sydney, Australia, of all places. Do Australians need mittens at all? I’ve only ever heard my Australian relatives talk about the heat. Google teaches me the first lesson.
Lesson 1: Australians rarely need mittens, but sometimes they may (some parts of Australia even get snow!)
Around the entire mittens there is a decorative 3-stitch edge. I was afraid holes would form along the sides and at first pulled the threads tight. This made the stitches pucker and the brown Vs disappear in the white background – not nice at all.
Lesson 2: Gently does it – do not pull the threads tight when changing from one needle to the next on the sides of colourwork mittens, but gently guide one colour behind the other.
After finishing the hand of the outer mittens, stitches need to be picked up on one side of the thumb hole. For the first thumb, I just used my knitting needle. The result was okay, but not great. For the second thumb I tried something different.
Lesson 3: Picking up stitches for the thumb works best with a crochet hook – look how neat:
My second reason for choosing these mittens was that they are lined and therefore extra warm. For the outer mittens, the pattern had been perfectly clear. But when it came to picking up stitches for the linings I couldn’t make head nor tail of it. I spent a lot of time looking at other knitters’ Ravelry notes for clues, but couldn’t find anything helpful. And that brings me to the next lesson.
Lesson 4: When stumped, use your own common sense
The pattern said to pick up stitches ‘with right side of mitten facing’, but I couldn’t see how or where and picked up stitches on the inside. That worked out fine.
The instructions for the linings are not great. You need to turn the mittens inside out from time to time to check the length.
Following the instructions for the width and top, the linings became far too bulky and didn’t feel nice at all. So, I ripped them out and went down a needle size…
Ripped them out again and made them shorter…
Ripped them out again and tried a pointy top like the outer mittens. Nothing felt right…
Ripped them out again and tried making the entire finger section of the linings narrower…
Yes, finally they fit! They looked ugly and irregular, though…
Should I rip them out yet again and try different decreases? No! Nobody will ever see the linings. The most important thing is that they fit and feel nice.
Lesson 5: Not everything has to be perfect – sometimes good enough is good enough!
All in all, a great pair of mittens, and knitting them was an interesting process.
- Pattern: Northman Mittens by David Schulz
- Yarn outer mittens: Garnstudio Drops ‘Lima’ (65% wool, 35% alpaca)
- Yarn linings: Blue Sky Fibers ‘Baby Alpaca Melange’ (100% alpaca)
- My Ravelry project notes here