Monday, February 18

Mittens, mittens, if only I liked mittens

I don’t like to wear mittens. My fingers get claustrophobic – they can’t breath, stuck together in a sleeping bag with only the thumb that can do anything. I also can’t dig my keys out of my pocket or answer the phone or make sure my mp3 player radio station doesn’t shift.

But I guess I like to knit mittens. I made a couple pairs one summer from A Year of Mittens. I used worsted weight to make the Scandinavian-style patterns in color work that reflected a month’s theme.
I made the November mittens with a picture of a turkey and the September mittens, my birthday month, that maybe is an aster. These were warm but floppy and suffocated my fingers. I think DD#3 might have both pairs or maybe they are in the hall closet.

I also made some children’s mittens partially to try to knit them top down, following the idea of toe up socks (this style makes a really nice thumb if the thumb is knit top down and then affixed to the palm), which made nice Christmas bazaar fodder. Then I made a cute little pair out of Shetland wool, using a pattern from a vintage, legacy book, Nomis #5, Scandinavian Snow Sets. I almost left the booklet on a plane. I don’t remember what I did with these mittens. I meant to give them to a precious little girl of a long-time friend who became a first-time mother at a more advanced age, but I think I donated them to a different year’s Christmas bazaar. Jamison’s Shetland wool is very cozy but scratchy.

Then, to answer the call of Afghans for Afghans, I made a pair of mittens out of left-over Noro. Woolly wool, slightly undersized needles. There was a slight imperfection in the color sequence, as usual with Noro, so I didn’t send the mittens for the campaign. I sent a small pile of hats. I wore the mittens on a walk along the windy lakefront and they were no protection against the weather so these would not be any good in Afghanistan either any way.

I was bit by the mitten bug again over Christmas break. Looking through one of my holiday Interweave magazines, I found a set of patterns: Baker Street Mittens, Epeiric Mittens, Paprika Mittens that come with a hat, Slanted Peerie Mittens. I went with the Slanted Peerie Mittens because of the holiday influence. The dab of red is duplicate stitch and I’m thinking of using gold instead. I made the mittens in Dale of Norway Baby Ull and was mortally disappointed that despite the stranded knitting, again these mittens were not warm. Alas.

Turns out the only way to make mittens live up to their potential is to knit 4 mittens. Lene in Finland talks about knitting liners for hats and mittens and I always thought that’s a lot of knitting. Elizabeth Zimmermann suggests knitting liners for mittens and makes it sound so simple. Nicole from the Wednesday noon knitting group made a beautiful pair of stranded knitting mittens and lined them with cushy Kid Silk. So I made EZ’s 36-stitch mittens out of another woolly wool from Plimouth Plantation (sic), regifted by my dear friend, blog-free April who starts to itch just looking at wool. I lined them with Frog Tree merino and finally achieved protection from the cold and wind.

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