Make Your Own Basics: Mittens and mitts

Make Your Own Basics: Mittens and mitts

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.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: The hat

New Favorites: Quick mitts

New Favorites: Quick mitts

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.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Kanoko

 

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Favorite New Favorites of 2016

Favorite New Favorites of 2016

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.

Favorite New Favorites of 2016

WOMEN’S SWEATERS
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)

Favorite New Favorites of 2016

MEN’S SWEATERS
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!)

Favorite New Favorites of 2016

LOUNGEWEAR
Crazy Feeling Sweater and Heartbreaker Shorts by Wool and the Gang (as seen in WATG knitted denim jammies)

Favorite New Favorites of 2016

HATS
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)

Favorite New Favorites of 2016

MITTENS
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?

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Bulky hats

New Favorites: Every stitch of the Tov collection

New Favorites: Every stitch of the Tov collection

I mentioned recently that I’d gotten a sneak peek from the set of the shoot for a new collection and that there was a cardigan I was losing sleep over. It turns out the entire collection — the Tov Collection from Woolfolk, for their latest yarn, Tov — is drop-dead ridiculously to-die-for gorgeous. For me, and what makes my heart race, it’s the single best pattern collection I’ve seen in the five years I’ve been doing this.

Here’s the thing: the day the lookbook first snuck into my inbox, I got the vapors. But before making a claim like “best I’ve seen in five years,” I have to stop and check myself. Let’s face it: the photography, the house, the ivory yarn and cables — it pushes every one of my buttons. Was I being swayed by all of that, or are these patterns as good as I initially thought they were? Having looked at it more times now than I care to admit, I can honestly say: Take away the house, make the garments colors I don’t like, whatever — they’re stupendous.

So here are my favorites: All of them! Starting, of course, with the sweaters:

Vidje by Kristin Ford, above, is the cardigan I was on about. This design is a tightrope walk; it could have so easily gone awry, but the bands of texture blocking are beautifully done. I mean, the shift in scale of the honeycomb is so gorgeous I’m hellbent on knitting this thing even though I hate knitting honeycomb! It might take me two years to finish it, but I ain’t lettin’ that stop me.

New Favorites: Every stitch of the Tov collection

Bue by (newcomer?) Nele Redweik might manage to distract me from Vidje for a minute. I’ve been planning to do a pattern for a sleeveless cabled tunic, but now I don’t have to! This is perfection.

New Favorites: Every stitch of the Tov collection

Gevir by Sarah Solomon represents that balance I think we’re always looking for, of a garment that’s striking — what I like to call a trophy knit — but also very practical and wearable. The combination of wide ribs and vertebrae-like cables, the way they’re deployed here, is slimming rather than adding bulk. And it feels extremely fashionable and classic at the same time. Absolutely gorgeous.

New Favorites: Every stitch of the Tov collection

And then there are the accessories:

TOP: Rille by Olga Buraya-Kefelian is just fantastic looking hat — must have

BOTTOM LEFT: Mont by Olga Buraya-Kefelian is a pair of long mitts that are just a good thing done well

BOTTOM RIGHT: Arkade by Antonia Shankland is the weirdest stitch pattern I’ve ever seen, makes no sense to my brain, but I find the dimensionality and pillowiness of it fascinating!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Mitten mania

Favorite New Favorites of 2015

Favorite New Favorites of 2015 — best knitting patterns

Just about every week of every year, I post about the knitting patterns that are occupying my thoughts — whether they’re new or just newly appealing to me — under the heading of New Favorites. Some are content to be admired for just that moment, while others bully their way right into my queue. Interestingly, this year not a single New Favorites pick actually made it onto my needles (Not yet, anyway. I still have projects in my queue from last year’s and the year before’s.) Oh no, wait: I did cast on Linda — I just didn’t get very far because I need to switch yarns. Given that it’s the one I cast on and sketched into my Fashionary queue, and that I’ve mentioned it on the blog at least 92 times this year, that must have been the absolute most magnetic pattern for me this year! I’m still dying to try my hand at mosaic knitting, and this is still my favorite colorwork pattern of the year. But what follows are the patterns I’d most like to not lose track of as more and more new ones distract us from that which we already loved:

PATTERN OF THE YEAR

Although I give myself a 1% chance of ever actually knitting them, I think Dianna Walla’s Aspen socks/legwarmers, pictured up top, is the best pattern of the year, so I wanted to mention that. It’s inspired by historical garments and yet perfectly new and original, and just completely enticing and memorable. (It’s from the Farm to Needle book that, disclosure, I also have a pattern in.) If you haven’t seen Dianna’s blog post about the inspiration behind the pattern, take a minute to give it a read.
(as seen in From Farm to Needle)

SWEATER OF THE YEAR

Favorite New Favorites of 2015 — best knitting patterns

For me, Norah Gaughan’s Marshal is the sweater of the year, despite the fact that the neck treatment doesn’t quite work somehow. If (when) I were to knit it, I think I might make it into more of a bomber jacket — with a crewneck and curved neckband. That, or keep the V-neck and just leave off the neck flap, which looks fantastic from the back but which I love less from the front. Regardless, I’m completely crazy about the pocket design, texture and placement, and the gauge shift from the body to the pockets — really fantastic use of simple detail to elevate a design.
(as seen in The chevrons of BT Winter ’15)

YOKE SWEATERS

Favorite New Favorites of 2015 — best knitting patterns

Next year will absolutely be the year I knit myself a colorwork yoke sweater. Perhaps one of these three—
top: Stopover by Mary Jane Mucklestone, as knitted by Kathy Cadigan (as seen in Dark yoke sweaters)
bottom left: Lighthouse Pullover by Carrie Bostick Hoge (as seen in Dark yoke sweaters)
bottom right: Skaftafell by Beatrice Perron Dahlen (as seen in Winter blues)

PULLOVERS

Favorite New Favorites of 2015 — best knitting patterns

The rest of the sweaters I’m keeping on the don’t-forget list are good, hardworking wardrobe basics that also look reasonably interesting to knit—
top left: Grille by Bonnie Sennott (as seen in Grille)
top right: Trace by Shellie Anderson (as seen in Trace)
bottom left: Sanford by Julie Hoover (as seen in The chevrons of BT Winter ’15)
bottom right: Butte by Pam Allen (as seen in Big ol’ cozy pullovers)

ACCESSORIES

Favorite New Favorites of 2015 — best knitting patterns

left: Lambing Mitts by Veronika Jobe (as seen in Foldover mitts) (free pattern)
middle: Bonnie Banks Shawl by Beatrice Perron Dahlen (as seen in Fair-weather friends)
right: Abyss by Wool and the Gang (as seen in the WATG x Raeburn beanies)
right: Crag by Jared Flood (as seen in The hats of BT Men Vol 2)

What were your favorite patterns this year? Cast-on or otherwise!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Winter blues

One-night knits!

One-night knits

Whether it actually is the night before Christmas and you’re short one gift, or you’re just desperate for a quick finish between long projects — or whatever the case may be! — here are four excellent free knitting patterns with fast and highly satisfying outcomes. All blissfully simple in garter, stockinette and ribbing, so they’re also great for beginners—

1. CFC Hanspun Toque by Patrick Rush
If you happen to have some Camellia Fiber Co. handspun in your stash, let me be the first to profess my jealousy! But if not, any superbulky will do. This one is designed by a guy and I can vouch for the fact that it’s worn by the whole CFC crew, so it’s unisex as well as being fast and great-looking. (See also: EZ’s Brioche Watch Cap)

2. Whichaway Mitts by Karen Templer
My own pattern for two-tone mitts that can be worn either direction. Again, perfectly unisex depending on your yarn choice. And it was specifically designed to use up leftovers! (See also: Super Simple Mitts)

3. Lara’s Hat by Susan Ashcroft
This is the most specifically feminine item in the group, but such a stupendous hat! Again with superbulky yarn on US15s, so you’ll be done in a flash. (See also: Purl Soho’s Chunky Cable Hat)

4. Simple House Slippers by Simone A.
These would be welcomed by any member of the family. They might take slightly longer than the previous three patterns, especially since you need to make two — but you could totally wrap up one finished slipper and an IOU for the second one. (See also: Tootsie Toasters)

Another great last-minute gift idea (no knitting required!) is a Fringe Supply Co. gift certificate, which I will happily send to your recipient as a personal email! ;)

For more gift knitting suggestions, see Warm hands, warm hearts; Cowls all around; and A hat for every head

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New Favorites: from Olga’s “Capsule” collection

New Favorites: from Olga's "Capsule" collection

The week before Thanksgiving, Brooklyn Tweed released their first collection of knitting patterns by a single designer, in this case Olga Buraya-Kefelian, which was also the debut of a new series of printed books they’re calling Capsule. Olga’s Capsule 1 collection is a little bit of everything — cables, lace and colorwork; garments and accessories — and definitely shows her range. The peplum sweater, Nobu, is completely fascinating from a construction point of view (the back of it, in particular, is just stunning) but my favorite pieces in the collection are the simpler ones:

TOP: the Tatara curved/scrunchy fingerless mitts are reminiscent of those bendy straws and promise to be a fun knit

BOTTOM LEFT: the Ebb ombré dress is a 60s-meet-90s mini knitted top-down with contiguous sleeves and sweet pockets

BOTTOM RIGHT: the Jujika colorwork cowl features my favorite interlocking crosses motif, so I’m an easy target!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Mega blankets