Yep more hand stuff

These are Susie Rogers Reading Mitts. Yep, the pattern is old enough that they aren’t texting mitts. They’re reading mitts. This is the old Susie’s Reading Mitts from Dancing Ewe Yarns (now closed) updated by the original designer, Susie Rogers. You can work from the English directions. Or the French directions. Or the Polish or Korean directions. I picked English since my Korean is a little rusty. It’s a great little free pattern with an international pedigree. Thousands of Ravelers around the world have knit these mitts and taken the time to post their knits to a Ravelry project page.

My mitts have a bit of history. They are knit from String Theory Merino DK in the Rose Madder colorway. Wonderful yarn.

In 2014 I knit myself a hat. Jo Klim’s Dawnlight Slouchy Hat. It was beautiful. Was is the operative word. Somehow it didn’t work well on my head and I wasn’t wearing it much. But I really liked that yarn. So eight years later, I unraveled the hat, steamed the yarn while it was on my swift, and started over.

I knit my mitts slightly under gauge, using size 4 US needles. Instead of picking up one stitch at the beginning of the thumb, I picked up two. In fact, I picked up two stitches together and knit them as one and another two and knit them as one. Then on the next row I knit those two stitches together. That worked well to pretty much eliminate those pesky holes at the base of the thumb. My size called for 13 stitches in the thumb gusset. I knit until I had 15 stitches. The result is an excellent-fitting mitt that’s a tad long (5.5 inches, as the pattern directs) to the start of the thumb gusset.

I really like these mitts. I know I’ll wear them often, though probably not while reading.

Next up is another incredible freebie mitt: Gansey Wristers by Kalliopi Aronis. I knit mine in yarn that’s been in my stash since 2017: the discontinued Kollage Yarns fingering weight Sock-a-licious. My “was” theme continues. Sock-a-licious was 70% merino, 20% nylon, and 10% silk. I wanted something with excellent stitch definition for this pattern and Sock-a-licious fit the bill.

These mitts are a foray into the slow knit movement. It was fun. I used US needle sizes 1 and 1.5. I wanted the mitt to cover more of the hand so after round 116 I added 16 rounds of knit 2 rounds purl 2 rounds. And for a longer thumb, I knit 10 rounds (rather than 6) before starting the ribbing. The top of the thumb, elongated this way, came out a tad wide because there are no decreases in the thumb. If I knit these again I might decrease a few stitches about half way through the added thumb rounds. But the mitts are still a great fit.

These next mitts you’ve seen before: Alicia Plummer’s rather barrel-shaped Raw Honey mitts. This time I used a new-to-me yarn: Berroco Lanas. Berroco says it’s a “special blend of South America wool.” It’s good worsted weight yarn. I found it at a wonderful price point at Fillory Yarn a few months back.

Raw Honey is a roomy fit on most hands. But that’s OK by me. The chevron pattern is an easy knit that looks complex but knits easy.

Here’s another recent version of Raw Honey.

For this pair I used the now-discontinued Sugar Bush Yarns Bold. Wear this pair while you’re directing traffic. Yep, “Clover” was that bright of a shade.

For the next two pair of mitts I gave myself a yarn chicken challenge. Would I or would I not have enough yarn in one skein of Malabrigo Rios to knit two pair of fingerless mitts. And the answer is…”Yes.”

First is another in a long stream, actually 12, of  Fetching(s) I’ve knit. At 21,274 project pages on Ravelry, Fetching is the most-knit pair of fingerless mitts on the web. Inquiring minds want to know what’s the second most-knit pair? It’s Susie Rogers Reading Mitts. Fetching is a free pattern published on Knitty and designed by Cheryl Niamath. I made zero modifications to the pattern. It used up 46 grams of yarn (96.6 yards) of my 100 gram skein of Rios.

Jessica Ayr’s Narragansett Fingerless Mitts was even a more dainty yardage gobbler than Fetching. All it needed was 44 grams (92.4 yards).

Narragansett mitts use what I think of as “cheater” brioche. I am not casting aspersions on brioche or trying to elevate it by dubbing it a cheater stitch. However, despite buying Nancy Marchant’s first book and her Craftsy class and taking an in-person brioche class from Olga-Buraya-Kefelian, and even though these designers are excellent teachers, I haven’t been able to learn brioche well enough to fix mistakes or use two colors of yarn. True Confessions time.

But I can manage this mitt’s knit-in-the-row-below kind of brioche. It’s still very difficult to fix mistakes. But the stitch is easy enough that I can keep my head together and power through it. As with all brioche, it’s the texture of the stitch that commands the knitter’s and wearer’s attention. Ayrs’s pattern is an excellent and fun knit. Give it a try. If you are brioche-impaired like me, tell yourself that it’s not real brioche.

100 grams of yarn, two pair of mitts. I even have 17 yards left for my Rios oddments bag.

Slip Stitch magic

Doesn’t it remind you of a creamsicle? That yummy vanilla ice cream-on-a-stitck dipped in something like orange sherbet?

This is Elena Nodel’s Polarity pattern.

Nodel was a very talented British Columbian Canadian designer who died in 2017, way too young. Jenny F of Sweaterfreak handles pattern support for Nodel’s considerable design portfolio now. Nodel was a good and gentle soul with a devoted husband and a young daughter. Tragically, cancer won.

I knit my Polarity in Gedifra Lani Mia Uni, a fingering weight in 80% merino 20% nylon. It’s the first time I’ve use a Gedifra yarn. I hadn’t seen it anywhere before. Apparently I’ve just been asleep at the switch because the company sells an extensive selection of yarns. It was an excellent yarn to work with.

Why Polarity? According to Nodel it’s because the shawl has “no right or wrong side, but rather two mood sides. Whichever side you favor today is the right way.” It’s a versatile and cheerful small shawl. And the slip stitch pattern is super easy. Fall into a rhythm knitting this one and set your needles on cruise control.

My grandson educated me recently about this next knit: Alina Appasova’s Prismarine scarf/wrap. Um. Let me see. You get prismarine, crystals I guess, by defeating elder guardians or guardians. Goodness that sounds rather personally threatening. But not really. This is the world of Minecraft–the incredible popular video game. Prismarine crystals are dropped by sea lanterns. I know. Enough of that. But Isaac was quite tickled that his old grandmother consulted him on the subject of Prismarine crystals. This is apparently what they look like in the real world. Well, the unreal world.

Here’s my Prismarine. I see the resemblance to the Minecraft original.

I’m not going to fib. This was a slog. Basically the same six rows (followed by a couple of garter stitch rows) over and over. But I love the results. I stopped at nine sets of the crystal pattern repeats, instead of 10. That got me to 64 inches, unblocked (as you see it here). My width, again unblocked, is 7.5 inches. I was after a scarf more than a wrap. Appasova envisions a fairly aggressive block to 9.5 in width. But I’m really liking the texture of mine and decided not to block it at all.

I used Urth Yarn’s Uneek Fingering and Uneek Harvest Fingering. Excellent yarns with wonderful consistency and zero knots. This project was also the first time I’ve used an Urth yarn. The price was always off-putting. But I found it at Fillory Yarn at 15% off awhile back and took the plunge. The solid fingering (Harvest) is the Fig colorway and the color-changing Uneek is the 3019 colorway.  So this

changed into this:

I’m liking my Minecraft-inspired knit. A lot.

Almost warm hands

The current series of blog posts is focusing on hands. OK. The last one and this one is not exactly a series. But on this little blog, it’s close. My last post was all about mittens. This one is all about mittens that are missing their fingertips. They’re almost as warm as mittens.

These are Aimee Alexander’s Farm to Market Mitts. I’ve posted about Farm to Market a number of times, since this is the 7th pair I’ve knit. This time I used Plymouth Yarn’s DK Merino Superwash. The yarn has great stitch definition even in its DK version.

These are totally fun to knit. At one point in the cabling you need to use two cable needles. But don’t be daunted by that. It’s easy peasy. You will be putting one set of stitches on a front cable and another set on a back cable, and you simply work the cables in the order the pattern directs. The palms of the mitts are stockinette.

The instructions are arranged very helpfully, with both line-by-line and charts. Plus an extra chart tells you what round of the cable chart you should be on as the mitt progresses through the thumb gusset increases. Very useful for keeping a distracted knitter from goofing up.

Next is a new pattern to me, Nici Griffin’s Escape Mittens. I used the same Plymouth Yarn DK Merino Superwash.

The mitts took only 44 grams of yarn and worked up totally cute! They look kind of shrimpy off my hands. But even my large hands fit very comfortably in them because the stitch pattern is super stretchy.

Excellent pattern, very clearly written, with both charted and line-by-line instructions.

Sensibly, the palms of the mitts are smooth stockinette.

Today I’m apparently in a tell-it-in-purple world. The next pair is Clara Parkes’s Maine Morning Mitts. A freebie.

I didn’t think I had enough yarn to finish these in my purple leftover Queensland Brisbane, a lightweight bulky. So I started with wine colored Brisbane. It worked out rather cute.

Off the hand, these guys look a bit like two Saguaro cacti. Skinny. Ungainly. Prickly. But slip your hands into them and they stretch to wonderfully cozy.

You probably already know the little trick for keeping your ribbing color changes nice and crisp?  If you just join the new color and rib away the first round will have half ‘n half stitches (half one color, half the next) in the purl sections. But if you knit all the stitches of one round in the new color, and then start ribbing, you avoid the dreaded split-color purl stitches.

Yesterday it was 93 here. Today’s almost as hot. Much of the United States is suffering under dangerously high temperatures. And I’m writing to you about how to keep your hands warm in chilly weather. Think cool. Knit warm.

Warm hands

I know. It’s June. My first excuse for knitting mittens is that it’s June in Michigan. This year that’s meant we’re still amid a good deal of chilly weather. My next excuse is that I don’t really have seasons for knitting. I knit year round. I knit a lot of accessories. That means you can often find me knitting mittens here in Michigan’s (sort of) “top of the mitt.”

This first pair is Susan Mills great two needle, knit-flat Mitered Mittens. It’s an excellent fun pattern. It was designed for the delightful, now discontinued, Classic Elite Liberty Wool. I totally enjoy knitting these in color-changing yarns. Here’s how the Liberty Wool worked out. This time I used Adriafil Knitcol. It’s a lightweight worsted, even close to a DK weight.

Sometimes it’s fun to see how these multi-colored yarns knit up, this time in relatively short rows of garter stitch.

Here’s a second pair. I used this skein of…brace yourself it’s a mouthful…West Yorkshire Spinners Blue-Faced Leicester DK Print.

And here’s the results.

I knit the second pair, the WYSBFLDKP version, in the small size and the Adriafil in the larger size. Both pair fit my large hands, more evidence of the highly forgiving nature of garter stitch.

The only tricky part of the mitt is likely a function of my well-documented removable stitch-marker disability. I’ve never gotten the hang of using one to mark the position of a decrease. So, instead of using the stitch marker to situate the mitered decrease, this is what I did. I put a “regular” ring stitch marker in place. Then, for the decreases, I slipped the stitch before the marker, removed the marker, slipped the next stitch, knit the next stitch, passed the two slipped stitches over—and replaced the marker before the stitch just knit. It’s a decidedly clunky maneuver, but at least I got all my decreases in the right place.

Next up is a totally fun freebie: Becky Greene’s Granny Glitten’s Mittens.

I knit this first pair in Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash. I’ve always been happy with the stitch definition of this yarn. That’s important in a pattern of this sort, with smallish cables on the cuff and knits and purls forming the various patterns. Granny Glitten’s pattern resulted in a great fitting mitten.

This is a very folksy home-style pattern. It has a few of what I’d call quirks rather than mistakes in it. And a couple of minor errors that you’d figure out easily on your own. But this link is to my detailed Ravelry project notes in case you want to check them out.

Granny Glitten’s Mittens are great fun to knit. For me it’s the fact that the stitch patterns keep changing. No boring repetitions. I finished one pair and decided to knit a second straight away.

This time I used a decidedly unwintry shade of Sugar Bush Yarns Bold.

Again, a great fit.

I really have been on a mitten kick. This next pair is tincanknits Antler Mittens. The pattern calls for an Aran weight. I had a skein of Queensland Collection Brisbane. I was good on the stitch gauge (18 to 4 inches, in stockinette) using the recommended US size 8 needle. But my row gauge was off. As a result, these knit up super fast because I worked only 2 repeats (not 3) of the cable pattern after the thumb gusset even for this large size.

Sweet mitt. Good fit.

Lots of knitters turn to sock knitting for summer when they need a lightweight portable knit. Maybe give a thought to mittens as an alternative. Especially if you work your mittens in worsted weight these are quick rewarding knits.

Working even at a leisurely pace you’d have enough mittens for everyone come the holidays. That’s what I did when I was nine years old, sixty years ago. My mom gave me a pattern for 2-needle mittens and a supply of Red Heart yarn. And one pair of needles. I knit mittens for her, my dad, my two brothers, Gram, Pa, Aunt Joan, Uncle Hank, Uncle Lee, Aunt Dot, Walt, and my cousins. People acted as if they liked them. OK, probably not that boatload of rowdy boy cousins. Later, my mom took me to a real yarn shop and bought me one skein of yellow bulky weight yarn. She found a pattern and taught me to knit cables. I loved the feel of that yarn and those mittens. Something was different about that yarn, for sure. When we washed the mittens and threw them in the dryer I found out what it was. They shrank to ugly felted fists. I had discovered wool and my life-long obsession was set.

Missing the fine print

I probably shouldn’t admit this in such good company, but I never bought a mini-skein before though I’ve been tempted. The thought of winding all those cuties into something I could knit with was daunting. And anyway I’ve never been sure what I’d knit.

But this Blue Sky Woolstok worsted weight bundle was on sale at a wonderful online shop. And they recommended a cowl pattern to knit with my bundle. Well, or so I thought. I succumbed.

I read through the pattern and that’s when I saw that I was supposed to also buy a full skein of Blue Sky Woolstok at a dainty 123 yards but a not-so-dainty price. And the cowl was pretty tight on yardage for one skein so I really needed to buy two skeins to be safe. Now my sale price was feeling a little shaky. But in for a penny in for a pound.

My first task was turning those bundles into balls or cakes I could knit from. There were two mini-skeins of each colorway. Curses. Double the trouble. How do knitters handle this? Because I tried everything and nothing was very satisfactory.

On my first few attempts I put a mini on my swift. My swift expanded to a cramped 12 inches or so and then I wound the minis into pitiful looking cakes using my winder. Geez, this is going to take longer than it will take to knit the cowl. Next, I opened up three minis and placed each one at a different height on my swift. If you think about how many hands a person has, you will see my predicament. Even when I pressed my mouth into service, loading that trio onto the swift was quite a task. Winding three minis in quick succession sort of worked to speed up the process. But no way was I going to keep that up.

My next try was to unroll the mini and hook the tiny skein around my two feet. I wound a ball using my feet to hold the tension. That worked fairly well until I got a little too enthusiastic and one foot slipped out. Finally? Finally I unwound a mini and laid all the yarn out on my bed. And then I just hand-wound a ball. That worked best. Whoever dreamed up minis should get a marketing prize and then a lump of coal for their birthday.

I dutifully charged into the recommended mosaic/slip stitch cowl. With my vast mosaic dishcloth experience, ahem, I figured I should be sure to match up high contrast colors. Oh my. I got halfway through the cowl and decided it looked like a 1960’s hippie monstrosity. It was probably that gold shade that was fouling the creation. My placement of the pink shade didn’t help.

Time to start over. What to do with these bundles, plus my 246 yards of Woolstok in the beautiful Northern Lights colorway?

Scrappy hats turned out to be just the ticket.

I am totally satisfied with Theresa Schabes A Fairly Scrappy Hat. It’s actually gathered quite a few Ravelry “favs” since I knit it back in late March when Hillman Michigan’s Long Lake was still a snowy place.

Seventy-six grams of yarn, lots of ends that I mostly wove in as the knitting progressed, and a well-behaved crown decreases. Great hat!

Next up was Justyna Lorkowska’s Scrappy Ski Hat. I’ve knit this freebie before in 2-color versions, here and here and here. And I know I shouldn’t insult Woolstok minis by calling them scraps. But gosh I like how treating them as scraps turned out.

Excellent how the crown decreases work out when you continue the colorwork.

I still have about half a skein of the main color Woolstok and assorted oddments of minis. There’s likely enough for another hat!

The next “read the fine print lesson” is a little more nuanced. This is Rainbow Indigo Fisherman Beanie, a DK weight freebie designed by Janet Stimson. Obviously, my version is light on the rainbow. Actually, even the blue denim shaded original is merely aspirational on the rainbow.

Such an excellent classic beanie. So, what does this have to do with reading the fine print? The pattern says a knitter will need 220 yards of DK weight to knit this hat. My two balls of Classic Elite Song totalled 220 yards. I’m good to go. Well, no.

My completed hat, with its rusty red Classic Elite Song bullseye, weighs 98 grams. What happened? She-who-does-not-enjoy-being-called-out-in-public forgot to weigh the balls before starting out on the hat. That’s something that should be done whenever your yardage is as close as mine was to what the pattern called for. At least I had a bit more Song in my stash to complete my one-of-a-kind hat in the same yarn.

I will definitely knit Stimson’s pattern again sometime. Lesson learned on not trusting that a skein of yarn is going to contain at least the yardage the ballband indicates.