Saturday, April 14, 2007

Warm, warmer, warmest mittens and Surprise me baby

Today, fish report, no frog report, but a baby surprise, some naturally coloured yarn introduces itself, and how I made a custom sized pattern for mohair lined mittens.

Four fish on a blanket, I admit my fish production has slowed somewhat. Probably my interest and fascination for them has waned a tad, as would be expected to occur naturally. However at only 87 fish, when at least 13 more are required, all plain - I do need to commit to this. I think I will set a quota of 5 fish a week min. No fun knitting allowed if fish are not knitted. These most recent fish are sitting on a brown garter ribbed swatch. Many many years ago while completing my doctoral thesis, in a clothing and textile department of a university, I had P.grad colleagues, one was Tara. Tara's masters was to develop a workable system for sorting wool from coloured sheep. The wool mostly came from a local farm that specialised in wool and yarn from coloured flocks. I knew this, I also remember being amazed at the huge variety of naturally occurring wool colours she collected, white, silver grey, dark grey, brown, reddish brown, cream, yellow white, ... an amazing variety. At that time my knitting was not as 'developed' as it is now - subtext "I followed patterns", so while interested the info did not stick.

Skip to 2007, when I meet local knitters who ask if I get yarn from Clifton Wool n things? The very same farm producers who specialise in naturally coloured sheep! This source had completely skipped my mind. However a visit last weekend resulted in four skeins of dk 2 ply sport weight rich brown yarn. The price, el-cheapo, $NZ8.50 a skein (that's $US6.20 for a skein of 400 yards!). The yarn is slightly sticky and stiff to knit with, but softens and fluffs up wonderfully in the first wash/block. This swatch made its www debut in the last post "the ribbing video", but in the real world the yarn is for Kate Kuckro's Interweaves Charcoal ribbed cardigan for Bear. A project sorted and now sitting in stash. I can now return to planning my own Fana cardigan in silk merino.

Surprise me baby! Well I have made a start on the Elizabeth Zimmermans classic Baby surprise jacket. See side bar for links. A little disappointment, in that what I thought was pure wool is not. The Green/Blue has in fact got 10% acrylic, which is ok I suppose, maybe, well not really but its only 10%. Why do I have an major aversion to acrylic? Well it usually wears out fast, Pills and does not keep its good looks through many washes , but with only 10% those features should be subservient to the dominant proportion of wool. So far it is fast and fun. I am having to track rows and decreases on paper, but expect if knitted a second time - it would be cruisy, I'd know where it was going. I have also lately discovered the shared EZ fan blog - which is worth visiting, if just to see how many knitters she has liberated from the tyranny of the pattern.

Here are what might possible be the warmest hand knit mittens in Dunedin. Knitted 'with love' for my Toby, aged 7.5, using the yarn he dyed last week. I knitted these from the cuff down, and made it up as I went using a tracing of his hand for a guide. I did read some mitten suggestions by my Knit Guru EZ who suggested a looser gauge was more comfortable. But when finished they seemed thin, open, and not substantial enough to keep small hands warm. I decided to line them, and know most recommendations are for angora, but could only find a fine gauge natural fluffy yarn in kid mohair, Black.

To line them I picked up stitches from above the rib using needles one size finner, and just knitted the same mitten. I kitchenered the fingertips and thumb tips together - and made sure to catch the stitches of the stripe knitting to secure the two layers together. I had not planned to line them, so should probably have added more ease, but they fit and work and are squishy warm and soft.

But I am proud of the mitten pattern, my own workings with gusset thumb.
Here is How I worked out the pattern, aka EZ or others 'down and dirty instructions'. I drew around Toby's hand and used this outline to calculate my size. In this case the gauge was 8spi, and the palm outline measured 2 3/4, I doubled this to get 5 1/2 inches around the hand. This gave a K =48 stitches. I made the ribbing on needles one size smaller, and around 25% less so cast on 36 stitches (I rounded out to two for the rib). I ribbed for 3", following ez's instruction to make the ribbing long enough to prevent draughts. I decided hands are not really 'thick' so did not allow anything for depth, assuming the stretch of the knit fabric would accommodate the depth of the hand. It worked out fine.

The thumb measured 3/4 across, so 1 1/2 around, meaning I needed 12 stitches. I used the standard raglan increase, increasing one on each side of the thumb line every 2nd row, until I had the extra 12 stitches and it worked out to be the right length - nearly. I added 6 straight rows to make sure the rib wouldn't pull up onto the hand. I put the central10 thumb stitches on a holder and cast on an extra 8 stitches to bride the gap, and worked the mitten straight until 1 1/2 inches from the finger tips, then used a sock decrease, every 2nd row, decreasing 1 stitch in from the start of the first dpn, the end of the 2nd, the start of the 3rd, and the end of the 4th dpn. When I had 8 stitches remaining - I wove them together. I picked up the thumb stitches from the waste yarn, and an additional 7 from around the thumb hole. I decreased over the next few rows until I had 15 stitches and knit straight to nearly the length of the thumb, before 2 decrease rounds of k1 dec1, and weaving the remaining stitches together. I realise the mitten decrease for the ribbing, increase for the thumb gusset and the thumb itself are ll 25% of K - K being the gauge x palm width doubled. The magic number for children's mittens appears to be 25%. Will test for an adult sometime.

I then used a smaller needle, picked up 36 stitches around the top of ribbing, and knit another mitten inside the first as described above. Here is my workbook with workings, calculations, hand tracing and finished mittens. One page wonder! Toby of course likes to wear these inside out, with the soft side showing so he can snuggle them into his face. I'm going to have to knit and line some simillar mittens for me.

1 comment:

Stella said...

nice to "meet" you! i so rarely run into other stellas. i have to admit, though, i'm a bit of an imposter: stella is my middle name, and i've only been going by it for a few years.

i love the colors in your BSJ, and i wouldn't worry about the acrylic content.