Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fiddlehead Mittens

I enjoyed this project from start to finish. And the results? My most favorite thing that I've ever knitted. I am seriously considering braiding a tie to keep them together and threading it through my sleeves like a four-year-old going out to play in the snow.
Designer: Adrian Bizilia
Yarn: shell, Blue Sky Alpaca Sportweight, 1 skein chartreuse, 1/2 skein each of purple, blue, and grey; liner, Baby Ull, 1 skein of chartreuse
Needles: size 1 Knit Picks 40" circular with Harmony wood tip
Size: Women's Small/Child's Large (see below for modifications to the original pattern)
Gauge after finishing: shell, soaked, towel dried, then blocked to maximum size, 26 st and 26 rows in stranded colorwork; liner, soaked and towel dried, 28 st and 38 rows in stockinette

I know it will be a good knit when I have looked at a pattern over and over on Ravelry. As the weather cooled off this summer, I remembered Kelley Petkun's podcast about quick knits of mittens and hats, and I allowed myself to click on the Add to Cart icon and bought the pattern. A cold Chicago winter would come. Also helpful was the class on Latvian mittens that I took at my LYS last spring. We made a mini-mitten, and I loved the playing with color, the practicality, and the eventual beauty and warmth of a mitten with stupendous colorwork on the public side and warm lining on the private side.
Below, a shot of the mitten and liner. Very easy to do. You pick up a stitch for every stitch on the I-cord border, then decrease so that the liner fits snugly. After the concentration required to follow the colorwork charts, the liner is a treat and sails along pretty quickly. Once you've finished the liner, you push it inside the mitten. This leaves the smooth stockinette side against your hand and provides a double-thick layer of wooly mitten.I made several modifications to the original pattern in order to size it down to my hand, which measures 6 1/2" from wrist to tip of middle finger. Here's a list:
  1. start hand decreases on Row 55 of main chart
  2. mitten shell totals 65 rows instead of 72
  3. not a size modification - but I liked the look of working the thumb in CC3 (contrast color 3) and the main color, and ending with a little bit of contrast in another color
  4. I repeated the last row of the gusset pattern before moving the stitches to a piece of waste yarn (apparently my thumbs are long in proportion to my hands - I'm observing them now, and they almost reach the first knuckle of the index finger...is that typical?)
  5. start decreases for thumb on row 7 of Chart C
  6. decrease next 3 rows
  7. work 1 row even with MC and finish off
  8. for the lining: I worked 26 rows to the start of the thumb gusset; then 3 rows after completing the gusset before moving stitches to waste yarn; then 33 rows straight on the main part before beginning the decreases for the top of the liner

The result is a really beautiful piece of knitting. At a semi-affordable yarn investment. (Well, I've been looking at catalogs that are calling for 12 and 13 skeins of yarn at $10 and more a skein.) And very reassuring to knit: clear directions, a Ravelry support group available with good threads of discussion, logical, great charts. And the color? I went with one color for the details and four other colors for background, but you can flip it around and do five colors for the details and one color for the background, or use up scraps around the house, or dye your own. If I was stuck for The Long Winter, I'd want this pattern and some yarn.




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