Sunday, August 09, 2009

Update on the Fiddlehead Mittens

Glorious colorwork. Mitten #1 is done and today, while being a complete bum and watching (I know, but I wanted to relax) Road to Rio (yes, that one), I moved through the first two sections of the second mitten.

Not that I expect to give Joan a run for the money any time soon. How does she do this? And so quickly. And so beautifully. Yesterday I knit for two hours, holding the Vivian sweater-in-progress on my lap - at this point, a full sweater, including sleeves, as I work my way toward the yoke and hood -- and I managed to do about ten rows.

I did tarry a bit over the mittens as I made modifications to the original sizing. First issue is that I knit incredibly loosely. Even with a size 1 Harmony wooden circular from KnitPicks and using Blue Sky Alpaca sportweight, I still manage to have a fairly loose gauge. And when I really relaxed as I started the second mitten, I managed to work the fabric even more loosely, to the point that you could see holes through the fabric. I ripped back, started over, and concentrated on tightening the yarn up. Much better, though I still could not go up much in either needle size or yarn, which cuts out a wide swath of yarns that other knitters have used with much success, such as Cascade 220.

Second issue is the size of my hands. I'm short and I have short hands to match. (I have mentioned this before. Perhaps because I'm the only one in the family who doesn't have long, elegant, languid fingers.) From the wrist to the tip of the middle finger, my hand measures about 6 1/2 inches. So, even with a sportweight yarn and a tiny, tiny needle, the first finished mitten was large enough to fit my husband's hand and at least two inches too long for mine. I ripped back, started the decrease on row 55, so that my entire mitten measures 65 instead of 72 rows.
The process was repeated with the thumb. I worked it to the pattern specs, admitted that even with the liner that will be knit inside the colorwork mitten that it would be too big, and ripped back. Three times. Including experiential learning that it does make a difference to gauge if you switch from holding one color in each hand to working both colors with the right hand. And to work the thumb only in grey and green, skipping the second color change, because it looked fussy to me. Now my thumb decrease starts on row 7 and the total thumb measures 14 rows long.

In the picture below, a Japanese bookmark from a library conference. It stands in very nicely for the magnetic row markers on sale for knitters.
One last update: thank you, Joan and NeedleDancer, for the advice. I've managed to find one ball of the Cashmerino and am debating whether to do the hood in another color and edge it with the orange, or just go with a different dye lot and order a few skeins from Webs.


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