Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bunny Mittens

Ever since I saw and purchased the book Selbuvotter, I have been in love with Folk Style Mittens.  My first challenge, two years ago, was to make a child sized pair for granddaughter Amelia.

After that I was hooked on this way of looking at knitting.  Of course I have been enamored of Fair Isle/ Stranded Colorwork for a very long time so the Folk style mittens and hats just added to my library of books, knowledge and projects.

With the advent of Finger Knittin' Good, which features fingering yarn in other than socks, my imagination was allowed to run wild, resulting in two patterns with Stranded Colorwork in the Folk Style -  mittens and a coordinating hat.   The mittens are now realized with the hat/tam soon to be as well.  Or maybe it will turn into a Donegal/newsboy style cap?  We shall see what comes off the needles very soon.

In my mind I imagined solid colored angora yarn for part of this set and a colorway wool for the rest but just could not settle on which colors.  I waited for Rhinebeck intending to bring home some nice angora/merino/mohair fingering yarn but that deal fell through.  sigh    However, since Rhinebeck feels almost limitless, I walked around with an open mind and sure enough some lovely natural grey angora/alpaca/merino fell into my hands.  Right away I knew which colors to dye the wool yarn -- deep burgundy and teals.  Once the ang/alp/mer yarn was in hand, the entire look seemed to emerge whole from my mind.

Being a math teacher for 22 years left me with many skills, one of which is charting and making things work out numberwise. A very satisfying thing to do.  I got out my pattern making notebook and Knit Visualizer.  Together they are perfect for writing and conjuring patterns.

A regular ribbed cuff was not my desire I so played with several ideas until this one was the winner.

And here, my friends, is the thumb hole, now waiting for its thumb.

While I was immersing myself in the fiber overload that is Rhinebeck, my gloves disappeared.  I must have taken them off, put them down to look at something and just forgot to pick them up. They were not special but I did look for them without success.  It was a rather chilly day with temps in the 30's and either drizzle or rain or just blah but definitely a day for gloves if one was going to be outside.  I must have walked around inside buildings A & B several times looking for an inexpensive pair of gloves I would want to wear more than once.  Ones that fit one or the other of those criteria were findable but not both.  Finally I gave up and ate some lunch under a large umbrella meant to keep the sun from the eater but today doing duty as a rain shield.   By the time lunch was done I knew if I wanted to stay comfortable, gloves or at least mittens were a necessity.

As I was walking toward the barns I spotted the alpaca tent.    Aha!  A whole tent of 'Made in South America' alpaca items.  Sure enough there were mittens and gloves and hats and scarves and sweaters in every size and color.  I picked out some gloves and went to pay for them.  The person on check-out was wearing convertible mittens.  OH.  MY.  YES.   That's really the ticket.  I love mittens as they are warmer than gloves, but rarely wear them as they seem too limiting.  She showed me where her's were displayed and I happily pawed through the basket until I found these.

  I LOVED wearing them and found them so versatile and useful.  All day they stayed on my hands, even while knitting in the Fiddling Tent.  What a great combo idea.  AHA my brain said, "Why not incorporate this idea into your bunny mittens?"

I put my back brain to work while figuring out the basics and nuances of mitten pattern writing.  I also really interviewed those convertible alpaca ones.  Making individual finger necks can be a royal a pain. So to avoid that downer  I thought of simple a simple finger collar where all four fingers were shielded but stayed together.  Jim pointed out that a mere fingerless glove section would eventually pull down, leaving a gap where cold air would come in, essentially negating the warm usefulness I was trying to engender.  More thinking ensued.  Good thing it is chilly as my brain sure was making heat.

Once the thumb and palm are done do we first make the flap or the finger necks?  Such a delightful dilemma.  I pondered this decision for several days until Cathy said the fingers would be more of a pain after the flap than before.  Cathy often makes excellent suggestions.

However doing this either way necessitates making a row of stitches that are on waste yarn &/or have to be picked up later.  I solved this one by leaving the original circ right in the mitten and then, with a new circ, picking up stitches from inside the mitten, in the same row with the ang/alp/mer to make the finger neck.

I also solved the fingerless question by making two two-finger necks.  Holds up the glove well, is warm and fuzzy yet cuts down on those teeny tiny going around and round individual finger necks.

Once the necks were done picking up the back-of-hand stitches was relatively simple.  Since the original circ was still there I just moved all those stitches from the cord onto the shaft and continued the chart, plus cast on for the flap section.  I am hoping this can be explained well enough in the pattern. At any case, I will be having a test knitter work these up so that should solve the clarity issue.

After each round I looked at the back of the hand to see if a bunny had yet emerged.  Finally one did.

I was so excited I stayed up late to finish this first mitten.  It also helped that Jim was watching the first game of the World Series so kept me informed of what was going on.   Yay Phillies!  Plus I got to see some nifty Mac commercials.  Go Apple!

Here's the mitten converted with the flap pulled back, over the fingers and secured by a button on the cuff.

And the mitten as a mitten.

There will still be a few minor charting changes to aid in the bunny looking more like a bunny but essentially we are ready to type up the pattern.

We are definitely ready for you to sign up for our Finger Knittin' Good Club which starts out with this mitten, then the coordinating hat, then a shawl and lastly a warm pair of easy toe up socks featuring some HAND SPUN yarn



I just love those mittens!!!

Kim said...

Those mittens are fantastic!