In early September, I started a pair of mittens on a whim. Mittens are fast and fun, not to mention downright useful much of the year in the upper Midwest. 

I zipped through the first one. Colorwork goes especially fast because it is, as they say, potato-chippy. One more round, one more short repeat, and before you know it, you're decreasing for the top.

The second mitten was, alas, less zippy because somehow even though mitten #1 went flawlessly, the second time around I kept misreading the chart and had to rip back not once but twice from the top down to the thumb. 

And speaking of thumbs, those are my downfall. I always put them off. They only take a few minutes, but I find knitting thumbs on mittens to be extremely tedious, what with the short rounds and all those points from DPNs (though I suspect magic loop would be even more annoying), and I'm still perfecting my technique for avoiding awkward, ugly gaps where the thumb meets the hand. The best method I've found so far is to pick up extra stitches and decrease right away on the first round, then be fastidious about hiding ends and closing those gaps during finishing.

The end result is awfully pretty, if I do say so. I love how the color work is a flying geese pattern, which is perfect for fall, when you see all the birds flying south for winter. (Actually, thanks to climate change, there are more geese that just stay here all winter and poop all over the city parks. It's an unfortunate reality of living in a city surrounded by lakes.)

I learned a new trick during the Maine retreat in September, which was a way of catching floats without tangling up your yarn during two-color knitting. The video below is a really nice tutorial on techniques of carrying floats in two-color knitting; about 5 minutes in she explains the new trick I learned in Maine.

My one issue with catching floats in that way is that I didn't think my finished knitting looked as smooth, even after a good soak and blocking. Perhaps my technique is sloppy, or perhaps the old tried and true method of twisting the strands of yarn around each other - annoying as that can be - is just superior. I can live with the slight lumpiness on a pair of mittens, knowing that wish wash and wear they will likely smooth out eventually, but I might be more persnickety on something more visible like a hat or the yoke of a sweater.

Much as I love these mittens, I could not keep them. As soon as I started knitting them, I knew I had to give them to my friend Pat. I met Pat when Daniel (now 11) was just a few weeks old and I stumbled upon a knitting group in a local shop that's not in business anymore. Of the 7 of us in the original group, everyone but Pat and me and another friend have moved out of state, but the three of us try to meet on a fairly regular basis when schedules allow. Pat's 70th birthday was this past week and our other knitting friend and I took her out to lunch to celebrate. Pat has blue eyes and gray hair and she is always wearing pretty shades of blue and teal. She spends a lot of time outside going on walks and volunteering at a community farm; this week she helped plant several thousand garlic for next year. The mittens are hers now, and I couldn't have given them to a more worthy recipient. 

Pattern: Triptych Mittens from the book Mad Colour by Tin Can Knits
Yarn: Brown Sheep nature spun sport from deep in the stash. I bet I got it before I had kids. Yeah, I've got a lot of yarn to use up!
Sticks: DPNs, size 3 (I think)


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