Tag Archives: hands

Not mittens for kittens

I finally knit a pair of mittens for myself.

The pattern is The World’s Simplest Mittens and they are, but perhaps not yet a go-to, never-fail, can knit it in my sleep pattern for me.

I spun the yarn last summer from fibery odds and ends acquired mostly from the NJ wool fest – some of it was an ounce or so pity purchase, much of it came from $1 or so an ounce grab bags containing matted bits of roving, second cuts, and all around mystery fiber both happy and nasty – it’s likely about 60% alpaca and 40% sheep – the most common breeds around here are Romney and Jacob.

Something went wrong in my weights and measures department because I thought I had over 8 ounces of fiber, but ended up with around 160 yards of yarn – granted, it’s a 3-ply and I wanted a thick, denser yarn – and I got that, but not too dense that it was painful to knit – and apparently I’m too lazy or forgetful to weigh my mittens, so we’ll just say that these took much or many beast/s. And the yarn was mostly fun to spin – just when I was annoyed with some rough and sticky or filthy stuff, I hit some angelic alpaca – and it transformed into a plump beaut after its first bath.

I spun the yarn for mittens or slippers and decided on mittens since I’d yet to make some for myself, and commercially made “warm” mittens often aren’t – or they’re too expensive and poor-fitting for me.

I cast-on for an adult medium (fearing that it might be too small) in worsted because I usually wear men’s gloves or largest women’s (I did a provisional CO so I could later pick up and knit the cuffs down in case my yarn ran short) and I wanted them to be dense – the yarn was more of a bulky weight.

And they were way too big. Part of that was a brain fart on my part – I was doing the thumb gusset as a Kf&b since the fuzzy yarn wouldn’t show the less neat increase as much, but I forgot that makes an extra stitch between the markers, so I ripped back and did a M1R and M1L like I should have in the first place, thinking the too-bigness was mostly due to the too-much-thumbness.

But ass that I can be, I kept knitting when I could tell that they were still too big. I justified this with the intention to line them with old cashmere sweater scraps and/or felt them a bit. But… the fit seemed slightly short. I started the the decreases after I’d cleared my little finger like I do with my little toe when making socks (and interestingly both are a little over 1 1/4 inches in difference) but this mitten decrease is faster than the toe one I use, so I added a knit every other row once I was a few rows in. Either the whole thing should be knit every other row, or I should wait until the cuticle of the next finger from the end to decrease.

My hand isn’t in the right place and my fingers look more aligned than they are, but I’ve got at least an inch or more of width I don’t need – if I knit them again, I’d take off at least 4 stitches. The other issue I’ve always got with mitts and now mittens, is the that palms are never long enough, so I automatically always add at least 4 or 5 rows, maybe at least an inch or so before starting the thumb gusset.

Then there’s the issue of the pointy tops. I don’t like perfectly rounded mitten tops because my middle finger does poke up (in its resting state, not just when gesturing), and I don’t love the sharply-pointed tops you see on some colorwork mittens – so by adding a few knit rows my tops are more of a relaxed point, but if I cup my hands, I still get a pointy nubbin.

That looks like a rooster beak.

And I don’t want to mix my wool and poultry – I’m a little grossed out by the thumb gusset that resembles a chicken leg even though I’m sure it’s a more practical one – and really this might be the pattern I should try next…

But back to my current mitten bitchin’ – this combo of pointy top and side thumbs (not left or right specific) does not work. I knew this going into it – I’ve made several fingerless mitts and the side thumb is fine for a plain top. But one pair I made has a singular design element that twists in when the thumb tucks toward the palm – and the decrease lines of the top twist in toward the palm. So to correct this, either the thumb needs to be left and right specific and needs to be in more, or the pointy decrease needs to happen in more, or the top should have more spaced out decreases so it can spin a bit (though I don’t like the ones that align and end up a bit pinwheeled)…

But whatever, I knew the risks but I wanted mittens quick.

So I’m a little concerned about loosing length if I felted them, and they aren’t as itchy and in immediate need of a lining as I thought they might be, and figured I needed to test drive them first to find out how water and wind tight they were on their own and maybe I needed to do nothing and I had arctic-ready hand protection and I just needed to wait for next winter (or clean out the freezer) to test them out.

Then we had a nor’easter with not-too-much precipitation but way too much wind, and our power was knocked out for 4 days – a bone-chilling, smelly (no water either), very long four days. And the sun came out and it was in the 40s in the day and I still couldn’t get warm – even the dog wanted under the blankets. So the mittens got their test – and failed – the wind still comes through a bit and they are stretching out a little too, so rather than re-knit them, a lining and a little bit of felting should do the trick – or at least improve them enough.

And wearing them made me think of street festivals in the 1990s with Central and South American flute players and hand-knit goods and crystals and shit and I had a very strong suspicion that perhaps I already once owned some hand-knit rustic alpaca mittens…

But I think I was thinking of these – that have seemed to have gone AWOL…

And in the end, I don’t think I need a solid-go-to vanilla mitten pattern like I have with socks – I don’t really need or want another pair of knitted mittens soon (have thoughts of sewing a pair anyway) though perhaps I do need one for fingerless mitts since I wear those very frequently and always have to scramble around a bit to determine stitch counts and whatnot.

For now though, I’m just hoping we’ll have power while another storm is upon us…


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