Sunday, 22 January 2012

Mittens in the snow

I finished the Snowbird Mittens a couple of weeks ago, and yes there is now snow on the ground.  I don't actually think it's because I finished the mittens but you never know.  I still haven't washed/blocked them because I've been lazy but I think they already look pretty good.  There are a couple of things I didn't love about the pattern (i.e. the cuff is too short and I should have made it longer than it said to, and the thumbs are tight but hopefully blocking them will loosen them up a little), but overall I'm pretty happy with them.

The colour work was made much easier by a technique I read about in 200 Fair Isle Motifs.  There are lots of points in these mittens where you have to carry one yarn along without creating a stitch with it for 10-15 stitches, which is far too long of a float to leave inside the mitten.  To deal with this problem, for the first mitten and a half I would stop knitting every 3-4 stitches and twist the yarns around each other.  This meant that I was constantly stopping and starting and having to drop and pick up my yarns.  Doable, but time consuming and I couldn't help but feel that there was a better way to do it, I just didn't know what that better way would be.

Then I got my book in the mail and while flipping through it I was pleased to see that there were techniques included as well as fair isle patterns.  Since I am new to fair isle knitting I was interested in seeing what kind of techniques there were, and lo and behold, the book talked about something called "weaving".  After reading it I quickly realized that this was the solution I'd been looking for.  This technique allows you to keep holding both yarns and trap the floats quickly and easily.  I was able to work it out by reading and looking at the illustrations in the book, but this video also does a good job of showing this technique.  If you are interested in fair isle knitting, I highly recommend this book as it is full of beautiful motifs and they are pictured and charted in a really helpful way.  I haven't tried knitting any of them yet but it's only a matter of time.

Apparently I've really enjoyed making mittens lately because this week I also finished my Snapdragon Flip-Tops to go with my hat.  I LOVE these mittens.  I've worn them almost every day since I finished them and the times when I wore different mittens I wished I was wearing these instead.  It's kind of sad really, I have all these beautiful mittens now and they might not get the love they deserve because I'm so obsessed with these.  It's because they have everything going for them.  They're beautiful and reasonably warm, they fit well, and they are highly practical because I don't have to take them all the way off in order to use my phone or dig my keys out of my purse.  All in all they are pretty much the perfect mittens.

  They weren't super easy to make due to the nature of flip-top mittens, but Ysolda Teague is a great pattern writer and she provided very helpful detailed and diagrams to make sure that the flip top portion is attached seamlessly.  The top was attached by picking up stitches across the back of the hand, casting on more stitches and then knitting it in the round on only two needles.  It was pretty awkward and took some getting used to but avoided the need for knitting the top separately and then sewing it on afterwards.  This is great because I can't stand finishing work!  The only finishing work these mittens had was weaving in the ends and sewing on the buttons.

Snapdragon Flip-Tops: Making winter fun since 2012.

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