Mittens redux

It’s that time of year again, when I show you some of the mitt and mitten patterns which have captured my attention this year. Casting on for a pair of mitts is fun, and more than that, it feels achievable. Big things are happening in the world this year, scary things; so in my sphere I like to have some little things happening, joyful things. A little piece of knitting, a cup of coffee, a technology-assisted talk with friends, warm hands. These things are good.

This is the 7th year I’ve been writing these mitten posts. I hope you find a pattern here to take your fancy. If not, scroll to the end to find links for each of my previous mitten posts. Note that pattern links are for Ravelry.

1. Nordwand by Birgit Grunwald

© Birgit Grunwald

I love the ingenuity of these. You start at the thumb and work your way out. This feels really clever and different, and makes me want to cast on right away. I think these would be a brilliant pattern for using up small scraps of wool.

2. Radiant Star Mitts by Ella Gordon

© Ella Gordon

These are beautiful mitts, which use traditional motifs and a “bright retro colour palette” inspired by jumpers from the 70s and 80s (from the pattern description). I love the pop of the orange and the turquoise paired with the charcoal black; they are very striking. Even more striking, due to the larger canvas, is the matching cowl which she designed for the Shetland Wool Week Annual 2020.

3. Ui Mittens by Ainur Berkimbayeva

© Ainur Berkimbayeva

I have a fondness for strong, simple geometric patterns in black and white. These mittens hit the right chord for me. The designer says: “ ‘Ui’ is a Kazakh word for ‘house’ and ‘home.’ The shapes and lines in these mittens reminded me of the cottage where I grew up.” If you like these, you should check out her newest mitten design, Herringbone Mittens for Purl Soho, which continue the Art Deco vibe.

4. Winglet Mitts by Sachiko Burgin

© Sachiko Burgin

I love this dainty and whimsical design. The pattern description says: “These quick to knit, lepidoptera inspired mitts feature an embossed motif of an affable moth (not of the wool eating kind, promise!).” Better to have some moths on your knitting than moths in your knitting, no? And a pretty pair of mitts to boot.

5. Bramble by Diana Walla

© Masahiro Shimazaki for amirisu

I have always loved the pairing of pink and green, or of orange and green, but here the use of pink and green and orange against this fantastic wash of a brilliant orange coat, is fabulous. The pattern was designed by Diana Walla for amirusu, Fall/Winter 2020, Issue 21. If you don’t want to buy the whole magazine just for one pattern, never fear, it contains some lovely patterns including this gorgeous pullover. This photo not only makes me want to knit the mitts, but also to go out and buy this coat!

6. Pihta by Eeva Kesäkuu

© Eeva Kesäkuu

I love these mittens by Finnish designer Eeva Kesäkuu. They are knit at a very tight gauge – 39st/10cm – so are sure to keep you warm and dry. I love the pinstripes, the dimensions, the fantastic gusset and thumb design, and the squared-off tops. Knitting them in red and white just adds to the appeal!

7. Dinkel by Simone Bechtold

© Sebastian Worm

Sometimes, simple is best. Dinkel means wheat and this lovely wheat pattern has a lot of impact despite being used so sparingly. The pattern description says: “Some yarns, especially rustic, breed-specific ones, have so much character and personality, you don‘t want to overpower them with a fancy pattern.” Don’t let the simple nature of the pattern fool you; these mitts have a fantastic thumb gusset!

8. Limn by Emily Greene

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

I adore these mitts! Modelled in the photo above by a man, they are a perfect unisex design. I think they are sinuous and interesting and sexy; they have rhythm and movement and texture, all on a base of luscious garter stitch. What more could you want?

I hope you’ve found something here to enjoy. If it’s put you in the mood for mittens, take a look at my previous mitten posts:

Merry Mittenmas! (2014)

A dozen great patterns for fingerless mitts (2015)

Mittens! (2015)

To gusset or not to gusset (2016)

It’s mitten time again! (2017)

A show of hands (2108)

Warm hands, warm heart (2019)

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Creative upcycling for your hand-knits: from skirt to pillow

Exactly ten years ago (even before I started this blog) I joined many knitters in making a Lanesplitter skirt [Ravelry link]. The pattern was designed by Tina Whitmore and published in the free on-line magazine Knitty in their First Fall 2010 edition. It used Noro yarn, a self-striping yarn in cool and interesting combinations of shades with long colour changes. It was all the rage back then. Here is a photo of mine (from 2010):

The problem with this skirt (as with many knitted skirts) is that the waistband is bulky. I never felt comfortable with this big bunch of fabric at my waist (it has a knitted-on waistband, which is folded over, seamed, and has a strip of elastic running through it). As a result, I almost never wore this skirt. (One type of knitted skirt that avoids this problem can be seen with the Carnaby skirt that I knit for Emma – blogged here and here. No elastic, and no bunching! Alternatively, if you are knitting with a thinner yarn, then an elastic waist can sometimes work really well, as with this skirt which I also knitted for Emma.) I tried, over the years, to change the waistband on this skirt to make it more wearable but never found a good solution. I recently decided to completely re-conceptualise it:

Behold! A Lanesplitter pillow!

I love this idea, and it was fun to do. First, I ripped out the waistband and undid the side seam. This left me with a rectangle of fabric knitted on the bias, which I washed and blocked.

I wanted the finished pillow to be square, but when folded over, the pillow was 4 inches (10 cm) short of square. In other words, I wanted the length to be twice as long as the width, but it was four inches short of that. So, I picked up stitches along both short ends and knitted up a 4 inch band of seed stitch on each end. (These seed stitch bands overlap in the finished pillow, so they each needed to be 4 inches). On one side, I knitted button holes, and on the other, I sewed buttons.

Then I folded the fabric together, with the right sides facing, and slightly off-center, so that the button band would be about 1/3 the way down the pillow. I made sure that the two seed stitch bands were overlapping with the buttonhole band sandwiched between the button band and the back, as you can see here:

I pinned down the sides and sewed them together.

Here you can see the seam and the overlap at the button bands. When the buttons are undone, you can slip the pillow form inside. This means that you can also easily slip it out if you want to wash the pillow fabric.

I think the pillow turned out great, both front and back:

Since knitters like to know these things, the knitted tee I’m wearing was designed by Mary Annarella and I blogged about it in this post.

There are 3,722 Lanesplitter skirts listed on Ravelry today. I wonder how many of them are getting out and about? (It’s a terribly cute skirt, so I hope most of them are!) If, however, yours is stuck in a drawer somewhere, or you have another project that seems game for a refresh, you might want to try some creative upcycling.

Snippet

I had a post planned for today to showcase a new project. However, the light has conspired against me – the entire weekend has been grey and wet and I can’t get any photos taken. So instead, we’ll just have a snippet of Doug’s vest:

It is a slow but steady project and the colours are working out really well. I will soon be at the underarm, where I will have to engage my brain again so that I can think about things like shaping and steeking. But for now, it is pretty mindless TV knitting. I think I’m getting pretty good at tensioning stranded knitting. This is before blocking:

I’ll leave you with a great quote. It is from an article in the Guardian some weeks ago, looking at the environmental impact of patio heaters, fire pits, and chimineas (all of which have sold out here in the UK as we plan for a Covid winter). They cite Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace, who says: “The ideal technology for keeping warm outdoors without heating the entire atmosphere is still a jumper.” Go knitting! Not only is it good for me, it’s good for the earth!

It’s a “6”

I am sitting on the floor, staring at a piece of knitting.

Doug: “What’s up?”

Kelly: “I picked up a bunch of stitches along this edge about a year ago and worked some moss stitch. I want to go back to it now, but I don’t know what size needle I was using.”

Doug: “Isn’t there a needle in it?”

Kelly: “Apparently not. I must have needed the needle for something else and pulled it out. I didn’t take any notes.”

Doug: “Really? How could you not write it down?

Kelly: “Well, I didn’t. So now, I have two choices. I can rip out what I’ve done and start again, or I can guess at the needle size I used, knit an inch or so and then see if the gauge changes.”

Doug: “It’s a 6.”

Kelly: “What?”

Doug: “You used a size 6 needle.”

Kelly: “How do you know that?”

Doug: “Every time you can’t find a needle, it’s is size 6.”

Long silence.

Doug: “Besides, it looks like a 6.”

Kelly: “You are sitting way over there, looking at these tiny stitches, and it looks like I knitted them with a size 6 needle?”

Doug: “Yep.”

I pick up the stitches and knit for a bit and check my gauge.

Yep. It’s a 6.

A funny thing happened on the way to 500

In April of 2017, I wrote my 300th post on this blog. I had been aware of this milestone for some time beforehand, and had contemplated how best to mark it. I ended up designing a pattern for a shawl, and posting it for free on the blog, along with the post aptly entitled A pattern to celebrate my 300th post!

This year, I was vaguely aware that my 500th post was approaching, and occasionally I would think about it and try to come up with an idea on how to celebrate it. 500 seemed like a big deal! When Emma was trying to convince me to start a blog, my first thought was “What will I write?” and my second was “Who will read it?” At the time, I would have been shocked to imagine I would still be at it all these years later.

Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post and then had a bit of a meltdown with the new block editor (hate, hate, hate!). I accidentally published it before it was ready, and then tried to un-publish it, and then totally lost the plot. I ended up writing another post – a really, short, stupid, complain-y post – about how I had screwed up the previous post.

Shortly thereafter, I received a message from WordPress: “Congratulations! You have published your 500th post!”

Ha ha ha! THIS IS SO 2020! I practically did fall on the floor laughing. There you have it, folks, my 500th post is history. (And now that I think of it, I forgot to mark my 9th anniversary of blogging earlier this month, too.) Onwards and upwards!

Thank you all for reading and sticking with me, through good times, bad times, and totally crazy times.

Posting troubles

I hate the new WordPress editor! Yesterday, I had a fight with it and WordPress won. The upshot is that it published today’s Wearability Wednesday post yesterday. I instantly withdrew it, and re-published today. What I didn’t realise was that notices that there was a new post published were sent out yesterday (when it wasn’t up) and not sent out today (when it is). All this means is that you may not have seen that I have a new Wearability Wednesday post up. You can see it here.

I am clearly suffering from anxiety. I can’t wait for calm times. Maybe I should take up knitting….

Hourglass Vest

It’s time for another Wearability Wednesday post! In this occasional series, I revisit a hand-knitted garment from the past and comment on its wearability. Do I wear it? Why or why not? How do I style it? Is it durable? Does it pill? What would I change if I were to make it again? In this edition I write about the #11 Hourglass Top by Theresa Shabes, Here I am wearing it this past weekend:

And here it is when I knitted it in the spring of 2014:

This was a very quick knit, from start to finish taking 23 days. How can I remember that? Well, because at the time I wrote a post about this top called How to become shapely in 23 days; this was a playful title based on the pattern employing a bit of an optical illusion that appears to draw in the waist.

Its been six years since I knitted this and I must admit that it spent most of that time in a box. The truth is, that until this last month, I hardly wore this top at all.

The problem is that I thought about it as a top, and when worn as a top, it is very impractical. It itches! (Do not wear Noro yarn next to the skin!) It’s a wool turtleneck without sleeves! When did I think I would wear it? As a top worn next to the skin, it is a not very effective garment. But, when worn as a vest when going out for long walks in the woods? Now that is a different story.

And when walking through town on a crisp autumn day? That works, too.

While I have discovered a way to put this garment to good use, it still has some problems in my mind. First, even on top of a turtleneck like this one, it is still itchy! Second, I am not a big fan of the neckline. The pattern actually called for rolled edges at the neck and the arms; I left them at the neck but added a few rows of ribbing at the armholes instead. I am not a fan of rolled edges, and don’t like the weird funnel like shape of the neckline. If I re-made this, I would put in a crew neck instead.

I also think that the proportions of the upper half of the garment are a bit off. The upper chest is about an inch too wide; if re-knitting I would decrease more stitches at the armholes. I would also decrease the length from armhole to shoulder by an inch. If you knit this, you need to use a yarn where the colour changes are long; otherwise the optical illusion at the waist will not work.

Above you can see me wearing it on two different days, in two different church cemeteries (where I live, every little town has one of these). The photo directly above was taken in the pouring rain on Saturday. Doug and I jumped out of the car and ran in the rain to take these photos. Yes, we are crazy, but it just goes to illustrate that wool is good for lots of weather. The other churchyard photo was taken the following day while Doug and I were out walking in the brilliant sunshine of an autumn morning.

Take good care, everyone. Be safe! If you can, take the time to enjoy a walk in the sunshine and some wool.

Treit

I’m really happy to have finished my Treit pullover.

Treit (Ravelry link) is a lovely design by Kate Davies. The original pattern design is cropped and slightly boxy and looks great as a layering piece over a blouse. I choose to knit it with a linen blend, so in my head it took on a summer tee vibe rather than an autumn layer vibe. (Which makes it terribly inconvenient that I have finished it in October instead of May!)

The yarn is a wool and linen blend by Karin Öberg, called Kalinka 21, which I purchased from Ginger Twist Studio. It is 55% linen and 45% wool, sportweight blend that comes in some fantastic, bright shades. (This one is called Lime.) A 100 gram skein has 350 metres; I bought 3 skeins but knitted this tee with only two skeins! That makes this tee a super bargain! And see how beautifully it takes lace:

As with all of Kate’s designs, the pattern is beautifully written and edited with a great eye for the finest detail. The lace pattern is really pretty. It is a super fast knit. It took me exactly 4 weeks to knit this – and then another 4 weeks in which it hung around in a pile somewhere waiting for me to take the half hour necessary to graft the underarm stitches and weave in the ends.

I made the following adjustments:

1. I made it longer. This one measures 13.5 inches from the hem to the underarm, which adds 3 inches to the length.

2. I added waist shaping. I put in three sets of paired decreases and increases to add some shape at the waist.

3. I added fewer decreases at the neckline. The pattern in this size called for 108 stitches for the neck ribbing; I thought that would bring the neckline in too far, so on the last set of decreases, I made fewer of them, bringing the number of stitches down to 120 for the neck ribbing.

4. I knitted it with negative ease. I was a little under gauge, so I knitted the size 41 to get 39 inches at the chest, which gives 3 inches of negative ease.

These adjustments give it a more curvy shape instead of a short and boxy shape.

While waiting for Doug to fiddle with camera settings, I threw on a cowl to keep warm and sat down with my knitting to knock out a row. Doug snapped a shot:

I realised that I was wearing a Kate Davies-designed tee with a Kate Davies-designed cowl (knitted in Kate Davies wool), while knitting another Kate Davies design. Do you sense a theme, here? (I blogged about the lovely cowl here.)

Wishing you a lovely weekend and some peaceful knitting!

Taking Stock

Taking stock of my WIPs (works in progress), that is. Taking stock of my life, or of life on earth, or of the crazy sauce that is politics these days, would take too long. And be rather depressing. Knitting is better.

I only have three projects in progress right now. I was going to say “on the needles” but one of them is in the finishing stage, so already off the needles.

TREIT

I finished knitting this little lace tee-shirt at least a month ago, I think. It is knitted with a lovely wool and linen blend yarn called Kalinka 21, in a gorgeous, sunny, grassy green.

I have only three things that have still to be done with this one. First, I need to graft the sleeve stitches at the underarms:

Second, I have a few ends to weave in:

And third, it needs a good blocking.

If that is all that remains to be done, why haven’t I done it? First, I hate grafting and insist that it can only be done in full morning light. I have been working on the weekends again, and the weather has been often cloudy and rainy, so there has been no opportunity to take advantage of clear, morning light. Second, I finished knitting it just as the summer ended and the autumn weather set in. What motivation do I have to finish a summery linen tee at the beginning of autumn? I can’t even use the winter holiday in sunny locale excuse, because well…Covid. I’m clearly stuck in England for the foreseeable future. Third, I am lazy. Enough said.

URSULA

In my last post, I talked about having swatched for a vest for Doug, using the Ursula pattern (Ravelry link) by Kate Davies. This is a women’s cardigan pattern but I am trying to be creative and transform it into a men’s waistcoat. It will be my first steeked garment, so I am imagining all sorts of anxiety to come as I take up the scissors to cut my knitting. But, for now, it is a rather straightforward project. Here is exactly two weeks worth of knitting progress:

Today, I had Doug try it on for the first time, and it fits. Whew! I am terribly slow at stranded knitting, however. At the moment it is taking me 18 minutes per row, which amounts to 3 hours per colour pattern. I am hoping to improve on my speed a bit, but the days of my super fast knitting have gone. This will clearly not be a quick knit. But see how pretty it is?

By the way, Treit is a Kate Davies pattern, too, so I seem to be on a bit of a Kate thing at the moment. I have also joined her latest club so I am currently waking up to a new design by her every Friday morning. Chances are this will result in another Kate project on the needles before long. (Anyone else enjoying the new club?)

KOKO

Remember this?

It is an ingenious three-dimensional knitting pattern designed by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, which I am knitting in three luscious shades of Northiam by Kettle Yarn Co. This is what it looks like unblocked, but rest assured, when it is blocked it will undergo a transformation and knock your socks off.

I have only knitted about 4inches/10cm since the last time I showed it on the blog, some months ago now, so this is clearly going to be one of those very-long-in-the-making shawl projects which I sometimes undertake. They take forever to knit because I can’t stay monogamous to them, but the end project is worth it (like this or this).

I am looking around for a new project to cast on, so that I have enough variety in my WIPs to keep me interested. What’s next? Well, Doug and I have been walking a lot and it is getting colder outside, so mittens and hats are appealing at the moment. How are your WIPs going? Does this autumn air make you want to cast on? (And for those in the Southern Hemisphere, soak up some sun for me. If I was there with you, I’d be wearing my Treit right now!)

Brownie points

When I completed my latest shawl (you can see it in this post), Doug commented that he liked the colours and that they would make a good waistcoat. I immediately thought of Kate Davies pattern, Ursula (Ravelry link):

© Kate Davies Designs

While the pattern is for a woman’s cardigan, the stitch pattern seemed to lend itself to this colour palette, and I bought some sample shades of Jamieson Shetland Spindrift 4-ply yarn and started fooling around.

Above is my swatch. I initially choose a mossy green for the first stripe (on the bottom) and then realised that it wasn’t the right green to go with the pink and purple shades – it had too much yellow in it. So I tried a green without the yellow tones (Conifer – top stripe). I liked this, which is good because it meant that I could stop swatching and start knitting.

Unfortunately, I then asked Doug his opinion on the ribbing. The Ursula pattern calls for 3×2 ribbing, but did Doug perhaps want 1×1 ribbing since I was turning this into a men’s waistcoat? Doug looked at photos of various projects on Ravelry and concluded that he didn’t like either 1×1 or 3×2 ribbing, but that he would like 2×2 ribbing. I then, very sensibly, decided to knit swatches of each type of ribbing, so that he could see for himself. (I’m nice that way.)

l-to-r: 1×1 ribbing, 2×2 ribbing, and 3×2 ribbing

The Ursula cardigan has 4 inches/10 cm of ribbing, but I wanted to use 3 inches/7.5 cm for the waistcoat, so I knitted each ribbing swatch to that length so that Doug could get an accurate idea of what it would look like. Conclusion? He decided that he didn’t like either the 1×1 or the 2×2, but preferred the 3×2 (which, if you recall, is the ribbing that is called for in the pattern). Do I get brownie points for this?

Having decided, I then ordered the yarn for the project which arrived amazingly fast.

Yay! New yarn! New project! And brownie points, too!

I usually try to post on the weekends. I was working last weekend, and I will be working this coming weekend, so I will just have to post when I can for a few weeks. Bear with me. I have a finished project to report on, too, but haven’t been able to get photos yet. It is what it is.