I know it seems like I’m just knitting Log Cabin Mitts here, but that’s not how it feels to me. There’s something primordial about it. I’m having a reaction. Succumbing to an addiction. Scratching some itch that I don’t quite understand and am enjoying more than I can describe. I mean, the knitting is really fun, and the finished mitts are super cool and useful and feel good on my hands, so on that level they’re an obvious delight. There’s also something almost subversive about it, since I add onto them in life’s interstices — knitting a patch in a stolen moment here and there. But more deeply, they’ve stirred the old graphic designer and art director in me. Plotting out a succession of compositions and color combinations (and photos thereof) is feeding my creative self in a way I haven’t felt in awhile. And when I’m not knitting them, I have intense withdrawal. I literally dream about them, and my hands yearn for them when I’m doing other things. I can’t think of a parallel experience.
With the multiples — which show no sign of letting up anytime soon — I suspect I may have embarked on an epic art project of some sort, the shape of which hasn’t fully revealed itself yet … if there is one. (I’m imagining my obituary: Elderly woman found dead in her sparsely furnished home, next to boxes containing hundreds of pairs of fingerless gloves …) For now, I’m content to just keep making them, as often as possible! Exploring the possibilities presented by my Porter Bin of odds and ends, which I’ll keep dipping into for as long as doing so feels this satisfying.
This pair — number three to reach completion — is the most graphic one yet, and I adore them. The undyed wool is Tolt’s Snoqualmie Valley Yarn and the off-black is Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Cast Iron. (Here’s this pair on Ravelry if you’re inclined to put a like on it!) And I’ll tell you about that toffee-colored one in progress, soon …
Of course, it’s also really fun seeing so many of these showing up in the #fringeandfriendslogalong and #logcabinmitts feeds, as well as on Ravelry. Have you cast on yet?
PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Mitts: Glorious grey, the originals, and the free Log Cabin Mitts pattern
Not that I want to distract you (or me!) from your Log Cabin Mitts plans ;) but there have been so many amazing fingerless gloves patterns published in recent months that I’ve decided to break them into small groups! Today, let’s talk about these colorwork gems—
TOP: Pinwheel Mitts by Ella Austin is small-scale allover stranded colorwork, used to magnificent effect on long gloves
MIDDLE: Frost Flowers by Dianna Walla involves just a little bit of worsted-scale colorwork around the hand, combined with generous ribbing and an afterthought thumb
BOTTOM: New Year’s Mitts by Veronika Jobe features beautiful use of a mosaic stitch pattern (no stranding or intarsia) blending a solid neutral with a variegated yarn and gorgeous shaping
Unrelated shop news — or, related in the sense of containing many great patterns, including some excellent mittens — the big beautiful book Woods is back in stock. And Lykke Driftwood crochet hooks are now available individually!
PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Plain and Simple
My long dark nights of grey stockinette have me yearning for something small, quick and satisfying (as so often happens). Those of you less selfish than me might be yearning for last-minute knitted gift ideas! Any of these could satisfy us both—
TOP: Varm cowl from Woolfolk is superbulky and supersquishy, and the pattern also includes instructions for it at scarf or throw blanket dimensions. The cowl looks like a one-sitting project.
MIDDLE LEFT: Exeter mitts by Alicia Plummer are sweet little abbreviated fingerless gloves, perfectly unisex too — my husband might need a pair in army green. (Alicia sent me a copy of the book these come from, and it’s a doozy! Lots of great patterns in there.)
MIDDLE RIGHT: Flaps slippers by Cindy Pilon are so funky I have to have them! Bulky and felted.
BOTTOM: Chunky Walnut hat by Katrin Schubert looks like a fun and fast knit, at bulky gauge.
For more gift knitting ideas, see Holiday hat mania! So many gems.
PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Mildly mannish cables
There’s one tiny side-effect of knitting things seamlessly that have appendages — as in, a mitten with a thumb or a top-down sweater with two sleeves. There’s a moment where you set aside those thumb/sleeve stitches on waste yarn, carry on with the hand/body, and then come back to do the appendage. You put those live stitches back onto needles, pick up a few stitches around the top of the thumb or the underarm of the sleeve (pictured above) to complete the circle, and then knit the rest of the appendage. The side effect being that you will inevitably have a little hole at either end of the picked-up stitches. This isn’t a flaw of your knitting or of the pattern — it’s just a fact of life. Patterns will often tell you to simply take the yarn tail from where you reattached yarn at that point, and weave them closed. But there is also a simple way to minimize them, which is to pick up an extra stitch in that spot — in the gap between the live stitches and the picked-up ones — and then knit it together with the adjacent stitch on the next round, so you haven’t thrown off your stitch count.
There’s still a chance you might need to do a little refining with your yarn tail at the end, but the holes will be noticeably minimized.
For the sleeves of the sweater pictured, I have 40 stitches on waste yarn and need to pick up another 10 along the edge of the underarm, starting at the center of the underarm stitches. So I’m picking up 5, then knitting the 40, then picking up another 5. However, to help bridge the gap, I’ll actually pick up 6.
Top photo: You can see the live sleeve stitches that have been hanging out on waste yarn, placed back onto a needle, and to the right is the cast-on edge of the underarm.
Middle photo: I’ve picked up my designated 5 stitches along the underarm edge, but you can see there’s a good 3/4″ between the underarm stitches and the sleeve stitches — that’s your future hole.
Bottom photo: I’ve plunged my needle behind both legs of the stitch right at the corner, halfway between the underarm and sleeve stitches, and picked up one extra stitch, which I’ll knit together with the adjacent sleeve stitch on the next round.
p.s. Like I love to say: A top-down sweater is a giant fingerless mitt with two thumbs instead of one — same process, just more of it. If you can knit a mitt, you can knit a sweater.
PREVIOUSLY in Hot Tips: Knit all the parts at once
The thing I love most about “basics” — i.e. a simple, hardworking pullover, or stockinette hat, or a mittens pattern like this one — is that they’re the perfect blank slate, begging to be personalized. Mine might be plain as day, while someone else’s might be purple or striped or covered in Fair Isle motifs or any textured stitch that matches pattern gauge. Pretty much every pattern I’ve featured in Make Your Own Basics is immensely adaptable, which to me is the whole point. The mittens pattern above, Knits for Everybody Mittens by Jenny Williams, is written for two weights (worsted and fingering) and 12 sizes, and would not only lend itself to whatever you want to do in terms of color and fiber, but would also be very simple to convert to fingerless mitts: Just stop short of the shaping for the fingertips — on both the hands and thumbs — and work a few rounds of ribbing before binding off. Same goes for Purl Soho’s free Arched Gusset Mittens, which also includes toddler, child and adult sizes.
(For even simpler handwarmers, see my Super Simple Mitts and Stadium Mitts — free patterns.)
PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: The hat
Ever since typing that bit about my single skein of Crooked Fence Farm yarn being destined to become a pair of fingerless mitts, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about which mitts. It’s a humbly gorgeous yarn — the yarn next door who doesn’t know how pretty she is — and I want it to be something simple but not overly plain, quick to knit but not boring. I’m in love with Tante Ehm’s Rime mitts (lower photo), with their simple repeat of slipped knits against reverse stockinette, but think the better choice for this yarn might be Melissa Schaschwary’s Timber Bay Mitts (upper photo) with their alternating waves of k1/p1 textures. I’ll have to keep that in mind as my next little traveling project.
PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Kanoko
I never feature anything in New Favorites that I don’t truly love, but it’s always interesting for me, at the end of each year, to scroll back through them all and see which ones make my heart race and my fingers twitch the most. Or which I admire greatly versus really wanting knit and to have in my possession as finished objects. This year was not absent socks, scarves, shawls and blankets, but it was light on those things, and none of them made today’s list somehow. But what follows are my Favorite New Favorites for 2016—
PATTERN OF THE YEAR
There was only one pattern this year that had me lying awake at night thinking about it, and that’s Vidje by Kristin Ford, pictured up top. I’ve declared a year’s-best-pattern three times before — Stonecutter in 2013, and Aspen Socks (pattern of the year) and Marshal (sweater of the year) in 2015 — and I’ve yet to knit any of them.* But Vidje is the new Channel Cardigan for me — as in, the one I won’t stop fantasizing about until the day I’m wearing it, that I’ll spend months or possibly years knitting, and that I hope to love and wear for ages. You can read my previous remarks (and modification plans) on this one in New Favorites: Every stitch of the Tov collection.
*Stonecutter looks terrible on me, unfortunately; Marshal still occupies my thoughts on the regular; and I conceded at the time that I would likely never manage to knit Aspen.
top: Sourcebook Chunky Cardigan by Norah Gaughan (as seen in Exceptional shawl-collars)
bottom left: Bue by Nele Redwieck (as seen in Every stitch of the Tov collection)
bottom right: St. Brendan by Courtney Kelley (as seen in Finn Valley and St. Brendan)
top: Tamarack by Jared Flood
bottom left: Carver by Julie Hoover
bottom right: Auster by Michele Wang
(all three as seen in For Bob — or himever!)
Crazy Feeling Sweater and Heartbreaker Shorts by Wool and the Gang (as seen in WATG knitted denim jammies)
clockwise from top left:
Divide by Emily Greene (as seen in Bulky hats)
Sourcebook Balaclava by Norah Gaughan (as seen in Hoods)
Rille by Olga Buraya-Kefelian (as seen in Every stitch of the Tov collection)
Earlyrising by Annie Rowden (as seen in For the hat list)
Halus by Jared Flood (as seen in Mad hatting)
Buck’s Hat by Thea Colman (as seen in Mad hatting)
top: Ossify Mitts by Whitney Hayward (as seen in Mitten mania cont.)
bottom: Handspun Dreams Mitten by Hannah Fettig (as seen in Mitten mania cont.)
Those are my picks — and in this year’s case I actually already have yarn and plans for several of them! (More on that to come.) What were your favorite patterns of 2016?
PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Bulky hats