A Mitten Story

This particular FO is a first for me, so I am very excited about it. I’ve been living with a heavy burden of shame: I have been knitting for six years and have never ever finished a pair of mittens… until now. Before I show you these miraculous mittens, though, let’s have a little backstory!

Attempt #1:

Malabrigo Worsted, colorway Natural

This magnificent thrummed mitten was my first attempt at keeping my fingers warm during winter. I began this pair three years ago in October 2009. I  modified a cable mitten pattern to include thrums, which are basically just bits of fiber that you stick in your knitting so that the inside is puffy and warm and amazing. Since I knew nothing about fiber at the time, I bought the first pretty fiber I found at a farmer’s market, which turned out to be Pygora goat fiber–incredibly luxurious stuff. When I told the woman at the stall that I wanted it for mitten lining she sounded surprised and was like “That would make really nice mittens.” Anyway, this pair is one mitten complete and I’m pretty sure I’ve misplace my notes, though I do hope to figure out how to knit its mate at some point.

Attempt #2:

Malabrigo Yarn Chunky, colorway Mariposa

This mitten was an early attempt at designing my own pattern. I began this one in November 2010. I still really like the pattern but couldn’t quite get the numbers and fit right, seeing as I had not completed any bulky weight mittens at the time. This looks ok but it was way too snug. I still hope to come back to this pattern now that I have a better idea of mitten size/fit.

Attempt #3:

BMFA Silk Mawatas, colorway Aurora Borealis

This project was my first attempt at knitting with silk hankies/mawatas. I began these in January 2012. If you click on the ‘mawata’ tag to the left of this post on the blog you will see all the posts I’ve made regarding these mittens. I still really want to finish these, too, but they are kind of annoying to knit. You have to pause every couple of rows to prepare the next silk hankie for knitting and it gets a bit messy and rough on the hands. Someday!

Attempt #4:

The Sanguine Gryphon QED, colorways Radius and iSkein

I am still entirely in love with the pattern for this project, but it is another one that is just somewhat unpleasant to knit. It involves thick yarn on small needles and pages and pages of cable charts. The knitting hurts my hands a bit and the charts make this a terrible “pick-up-and-go” project, which are the kinds of projects that tend to be doomed to the UFO pile in my knitterly life. Since I do love the pattern so much I have not yet given up, but starting two pairs of fiddly mittens in January 2012 was obviously much too ambitious.

The Finished Pair:
But finally, three years after my first attempt at mittens, I bring you these:

Malabrigo Yarn Chunky, colorway Lettuce

These are the Zephyr Fingerless Mitts pattern (with mitten option) by Tracey/a.k.a. Riverpoet. I modified them quite a bit for fit and personal preference, but it’s a free pattern with a fun stitch that creates a great woven effect that works well with solid yarns and even better with variegated colorways.

I like my mitten cuffs snug but the hand part roomy so I mashed together the S/M and M/L sizes. I moved the thumb one stitch palmward to mimic more closely how the thumb is actually positioned on the hand. Finally, I extended the stitch pattern to the top of the mitten and changed the decreases so that they worked like a sock toe. In short, these mittens were a great learning experience in teaching me how I like my mittens. And the best part? I knit them in five days. FIVE DAYS.

Why yes, I do look pleased with myself.

All that waiting, all those chilly-fingered-mornings shoveling snow and scraping ice… and I finished this pair of mittens in five days. Seems crazy, doesn’t it?

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6 thoughts on “A Mitten Story

  1. And a fine pair of mittens they are! You should definitely be pleased. After hearing your mitten saga, I'm really pleased for you. I find it interesting that you are knitting with silk hankies, that seems to be popular right now. I really don't like the texture of most of them (silk is so sticky until you knit/spin it too!) but the colors, those might make it completely worth it.

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  2. Wow. You really have progressed. I always wanted to try thrummed mittens, they sound so warm. Those super complicated cabled ones look pretty too! But I LOVE the pair you finished! The color matches the pattern so well. Congrats!

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  3. They turned out gorgeous! Seeing all of your past mittens makes this finished pair all the more special. They are so cute and the color looks great with that pattern! If you ever figure out the pattern for the first pair I would love you to publish it! I love those mittens so much.

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  4. Congrats! Nothing is more wonderful than a warm pair of mittens on a cold day. It's funny how it sometimes takes several goes to get a particular kind of knit done. And once you've done it you wonder why it took so long.

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  5. Yay! I love how your green mittens turned out. 🙂 And I loved reading about your mitten history, too: the thrummed mitten with the pygora goat fiber looks so luxurious and warm! I'm not much of a mitten-knitter, either, but reading your post has inspired me to give it another go!

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