What’s Off My Needles

Finishing a project is one of the most joyful events in a knitter’s life, especially when the project turns out as planned. It’s been a while since I’ve had a major knitting disaster, and I hope to keep it that way. Of course, I’ve been knitting a lot of fingerless mitts lately, but even when a project that small is a total fail, it can never qualify as a major knitting disaster. A fingerless mitt, after all, is little more than a swatch. So if you need to rip the darned thing out and start over, it’s no big deal. When that happens with, say, a sweater, well, that’s a big deal.

The previous paragraph may lead you, dear reader, to conclude that I have recently had a fingerless mitts fail of some sort. If so, I apologize for misleading you. My fingerless mitts have been humming along like a well-oiled spinning wheel. Two pairs have recently left my needles, and both turned out quite well, if I do say so myself.

I’ll start with Anne’s Little Twist Mitts. They are finished, and I’m very happy with how they turned out.

If I could play the bodhrán, I could play it wearing these mitts. 🙂

Although I prefer to have some ribbing in the hand of fingerless mitts because I think it gives a better fit, these mitts don’t bag and sag excessively.

No bagging or sagging, just a nice, snug fit

The yarn I used for these mitts is Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted weight. It’s my favorite everyday  workhorse yarn because it comes in a wide range of colors, knits up nicely, softens a lot once it’s washed, wears well, is made in the USA of American wool, and is well priced. A lot of knitters are in love with Cascade 220, but in my opinion, Cascade 220 pales in comparison with Brown Sheep Nature Spun.

But that being said, Cascade 220 is a good, solid everyday yarn, and I do sometimes knit with it even though I’m not overly fond of either the twist or the feel of it. In fact, I just recently completed these fingerless mitts using Cascade 220 that I had in my stash.

 

Mr. Pittsburgh Penguins Gnome approves of my Let’s Go Pens Mitts.

The pattern is Center Ice Hockey Mitts, which is a free download on Ravelry. These mitts are intended as a prize for one of the members of the Let’s Go Pens Ravellenic Games team.

It’s very difficult to find a yarn in a color that matches the Las Vegas gold that is worn by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Cascade 220 comes the closest with the color they call “Pear.” I wish Brown Sheep had a comparable color, but they don’t. If they did, Cascade 220 would probably be banished from my stash.

 

Presents!

The holidays were wonderful this year. The weekend before Christmas we made a trip to Pittsburgh to visit James and Emily (and housemates Kelly and Alma the cat) and to exchange gifts. We had dinner at Emily’s mom’s place (yum!) and the next morning we had brunch at Zenith on the Southside (yum!) and then headed back home. It was a lovely time. And there were presents!

I gave James his Tea with Jam and Bread sweater

James’s sweater waiting to be blocked

and a pair of fingerless mitts in Brown Sheep Nature Spun wool in Bulldog Blue.

Simple K3 P1 mitts for James, modeled by yours truly.

James was very happy with his new sweater. It wasn’t a surprise. He had approved the yarn last summer and tried the sweater-in-progress on over Thanksgiving. But he was very happy with how it turned out, especially with how well it fit. I added three double sets of short rows to the back, one at the shoulders, one at the bottom of the armholes, and one above the bottom ribbing to add length to the back. The short rows at the shoulders gave a slightly rounded shape that fit across his upper back very nicely. And the other two sets of short rows made the back about an inch-and-a-half longer than the front so the sweater won’t ride up in the back when he wears it.

I also knitted the body longer than I usually do. I checked on-line to see how long commercial sweaters in “tall” sizes are from the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the sweater and used that as a guide. It’s 31 inches for an XL. 🙂

James also seemed very happy with the fingerless mitts. He expressed an interest in giving them a try when he was here over Thanksgiving, so I knitted him a pair in very dark blue using a simple ribbing that makes them stretchy. I cast on four more stitches than I would were I knitting these for myself, and I knitted the cuffs just a little longer than I would for myself to accommodate his larger hands. When he tried them on, they fit, um, like a glove. 🙂

Emily also got a pair of fingerless mitts, knitted from Cascade 220 Heather in a lovely soft blue.

Emily’s mitt with fold-over cuffs on both the wrists and fingers for extra warmth

I was working on these mitts over Thanksgiving, and Emily really liked them, so they mysteriously found their way into her gift bag.

While James and Emily were showing off their fingerless mitts, their housemate Kelly was admiring them. So naturally, I asked him if he would like a pair. He said yes, so I told him to stop by when he was in town for the holidays and I would have a pair ready for him.

Kelly’s mitts in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Mist

They are identical to the ones I knitted for James except they are in a different color and yarn. He picked them up the Friday after Christmas and seemed pleased with them. Although I knitted them using the same stitch count and needles that I used for James’s mitts, these mitts are just a wee bit smaller because of the different yarn. But they are very stretchy, so it’s not really a problem. Fingerless mitts are very forgiving like that. 🙂

Oh, and let’s not forget the best present of all. I actually made a pair of fingerless mitts for myself.

The Pittsburgh Penguins gnome keeping watch over my mitts

Mine, all mine!

All I can say is, Fingerless mitts, where have you been all my life?

 

 

 

At Last, FO Friday!

It’s been a while since I posted a Finished Object Friday entry. It’s not for a lack of FOs. It’s more because I’ve been busy with preparing for and cleaning up after Thanksgiving. And watching a lot of hockey games. And doing a lot of knitting. And doing some reading, too.

Unfortunately, when it comes to blogging, I’ve been a bit of a slacker. I’m determined to change that and get back to posting more regularly. Only time will tell whether I succeed. 🙂

Fingerless mitts. What more can I say? They are all the rage now, and for very good reason. Fingerless mitts help keep your hands warm while leaving your fingers free to operate the touch screen on your portable device–smart phone, tablet, iPod touch, etc. They are also wonderful for people like me who don’t like to wear gloves when they drive. And they are an excellent way to add an extra layer of warmth to the hands on a frigid day by slipping them over a pair of gloves. It doesn’t hurt that they look pretty, too.

For a knitter, fingerless mitts are a dream project. They can be knitted in any thickness of yarn, from lace weight (doubled) to bulky, but fingering, sport, and worsted weight seem to work best. There are tons of fingerless mitts patterns, both free and paid, available on Ravelry, but once you know the basic construction, it’s simple enough to design your own. They take only a small amount of yarn, usually less than 100 grams, and very little time. Depending on the pattern, a single mitt can be completed in an evening’s worth of knitting. And it’s pretty easy to guesstimate size by trying the mitts on. Ribbed patterns are very forgiving. 🙂

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve finished three pairs of fingerless mitts, two of which are my own design. Aren’t I clever?

clockwise from lower left: Maureen’s Zig Zag Mitts, Midwinter Staghorn Mitts, and Twisted Fold Over Mitts

The Staghorn Mitts are knitted from one ball of Knit Picks Chroma worsted weight, which is a singles yarn that is incredibly soft, using  4.25mm dpns. I don’t know how well it will hold up with wearing, but the mitts are luscious freshly knitted.

Midwinter Staghorn Mitts, front and back

I used this pattern from Tera Johnson that is available free on Ravelry. I made only a handful of modifications to the pattern. I added some extra rounds of 2 x 2 ribbing to the cuffs, and I did an extra gusset increase.

Don’t look too closely at my fingernails. It isn’t a pretty sight. 🙂

But otherwise, I knitted the pattern as written. And, as you can see, I was able to match the color repeats almost perfectly, in spite of there being a knot in the ball of Chroma.

The blue heather mitts, knitted from one skein of Cascade 220 on 4.25mm dpns, have fold over cuffs both at the wrist and at the fingers.

One mitt with the cuffs folded, the other with the cuffs unfolded

The double fabric gives extra warmth and adds versatility. On very cold days, the cuff at the fingers can be unfolded to cover the fingers, almost like mittens, and the cuff at the wrist can be unfolded under the sleeve of the coat but over the sleeve of the inner garment to keep out the wind. Clever, eh?

I admit to stealing this idea. When pattern surfing on Ravelry, I saw a pair of mitts that had a fold over cuff at the fingers and thought it was a great idea. So I stole it. 🙂

Anyway, the Twisted Fold Over Mitts are a simple 2 x 2 rib with 3 columns of RT (right twist-knit into the second stitch on the left-hand needle, then knit into the first stitch and drop both stitches from the left-hand needle) pseudo cables on the back of the hand to gussy them up a bit.

Don’t they look warm and cozy?

If you knit them in just 2 x 2 rib, the mitts will be reversible, that is, each mitt will fit both the left and the right hand.

The red mitts, Maureen’s Zig Zag Mitts, are also my own design. They are the same basic mitts as the Twisted Fold Over Mitts, but only the wrist has a fold over cuff, and the RTs have been replaced with alternating C2B and C2F to create a zig-zag cable that looks a lot like rick rack. (Do young people today even know what rick rack is? LOL)

You can see both the palm side and the back-of-the-hand side in this picture. I apologize for how crappy the picture is. My camera doesn’t do red for some reason.

The yarn is Lion Brand Wool, which is Aran weight (a heavy worsted weight) in scarlet, and it is a lovely wool to knit with. It’s one of the few worthwhile yarns you can purchase in big box craft stores like Michaels.

I have a large storage container filled with single balls of worsted weight yarn, so expect a lot more fingerless mitts this winter.