Finished! Daniel's mittens

Boy, am I glad to be done with these!

(ETA: This turned out to be a long post. Guess I'm feeling bloggy today. There are some nice pictures at the end if you don't want to read. Just scroll down a bit.)

Mitered Mittens (May pattern from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac)
Yarn: Mountain Colors Twizzle (85% Merino Wool, 15% Silk) in the color Sierra
Needles/Gauge: 22st=4" in st st on size 6 (4mm) DPNs
Comments: I love this yarn. Even though I'm not one for variegated or self-striping yarns, I was befelled by the colors in this skein. They're gorgeous on Daniel (mother's bias, I know). The yarn itself is soft and durable (it took well to frogging...see below). It's also expensive, so I doubt I'll be doing anything with Mountain Colors other than one-skein projects.

Now, about the pattern. The mitered mittens are so clever. Increasing and decreasing every other round to make the points at the base of the mitten makes this project ever so much more interesting than knitting a plain old tube. Plus, it works for any gauge as long as your # of stitches is divisible by four. Alas, these mittens were not without on...

Little mittens for little hands using an easy pattern? Should have taken me a few days. Instead, it took me several weeks. I partly blame myself for being so easily distracted by other projects, but I was also set back a day or two by the Afterthought Thumb.

For anyone out there unfamiliar with the genius of Elizabeth Zimmerman, let me explain; the rest of you can skip ahead to the rest of the pictures. Elizabeth Zimmerman (henceforth "EZ") came up with this great concept called "the Afterthought," which can be applied to any pouch-like shape in a knitted garment. There's the Afterthought Pocket on a sweater, the Afterthought Heel on a sock, and the Afterthought Thumb on a mitten. Essentially, you knit the garment straight up without creating said appendages, and add them later by cutting a hole (!) and picking up the stitches around it. It's a wonderful concept when you don't know exactly where you want a heel or a pocket or a thumb to be; you just knit merrily along and slap on a thumb/pocket/heel at the end.

I am apparently a bonehead, because I've never seen anyone screw this up before. I thought it looked easy enough from the pictures, but when I cut the stitches out where I wanted the thumb to be, there was a problem: the ends were way too short to weave in, and the mitten would surely ravel on its first wearing. This is what happens when you're only removing five stitches on a small mitten to make a thumb hole. I would like to try the Afterthought on something where more stitches are to be removed, leaving longer ends to weave in. I think it would work fine on something like a pocket.

Either that, or I totally misunderstood the directions. In any case, I had to frog both mittens back to where I wanted the thumb to be, and do a Trick Thumb, which I like much better and makes me feel more secure.

The Trick Thumb is accomplished by working several stitches where you want the thumb to be on waste yarn, then slipping those stitches back on the left needle and working them again with your regular yarn. After the rest of the mitten is done, it looks like this:

Then you take out that waste yarn, pick up the live stitches (which have no chance of raveling once they're on your needles because you don't have any ends sticking out and threatening to come undone) and make your thumb. The end result looks the same as an Afterthought, but it's much less risky.

Daniel likes his new mittens:

They even match his hat:

Even though they took longer than I anticipated to finish, I'm really happy I put the time in to do these right. The mittens fit, they ought to be warm, and, if I do say so, they're darn cute.


Andre said…
Please forgive my non-knitting self commenting on this blog, but this npr story seemed to me like it might interest you.

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