Thursday, February 22, 2018

Come And Share A Cup ~ a Mitten Recipe

I used to like to teach sock knitting.  For a time before it closed, my then local yarn shop was attached to a coffee house and so I sketched a little pattern for a coffee (or tea) cup motif to add to the sock pattern.  Over the years I've knit that pattern on the cuffs or heel flap or across the toe of socks and I always thought that some time I'd put it on a mitten.  Thinking again recently as I have been, about the symbolism of mittens - extending a hand, holding a hand, warming hands, the power of hands, I thought also about that little cup motif and how sharing of cup of something warm to drink holds meaning, too.

Fuzzy wool and mohair mittens
So I put the two ideas together.  And I wanted to share them.

I'm not a pattern writer.  And I'm not usually a follow all the rules knitter.  I tend to take parts of the rules and use what works for me, a little from here or a little from there ;)  So this is not a pattern.  It hasn't been tech edited.  It's just my mitten knitting notes, jotted down and shared.  More of a mitten plan, if you will.  A recipe.  An offering.

There are so many brilliant mitten designs and patterns available, intricate, ornate, works of art.  I love them all!  I've made a few.  I'll make more!  But what represents me and my life these days (maybe always, lol) is something a bit more common, humble and straightforward, comforting but with a little dash of color to remind me of joy.  My hands and mind simply aren't able to comfortably grasp much more just now, and tiny needles, tight stitches and tangles of yarn will do me in!  So I went back to the basics, with a sturdy worsted weight yarn, solid needles and a few numbers punched into a plan and here we go - a fairly quick mitten, with the gift of a coffee cup going round.

This is knitting around the kitchen table, folks!

I know I said worsted weight yarn.  But a lovely fingering or sport weight, when it's straight out knitting, doesn't boggle me to much ;)  So you can see, it's pretty easy to change the numbers up and make a pair of mittens or mitts using the lighter weights.  In the WIP photo above, I'm using Blueberry Crumbcake sock yarn from The Woolen Homestead with a contrast of our farm sock yarn (Corriedale and Alpaca blend).

My mitten uses an afterthought thumb.  Sometimes called the peasant thumb, I think it's the easiest and most often overlooked way of making thumbs!  I use it because it fits my hand well.  I know that isn't the case for every hand, but I've learned a few tips over the years that might make it work for you if you'd like to give it a try.  If thumb gussets have tripped you up in the past, the afterthought thumb might give your mitten knitting new meaning!

Ribbing is not my best knitting skill, especially in small circular objects.  This mitten recipe will offer you a few other choices for the cuff to get you off and running on your mitten.  The cup motif is a simple one, you're only going to use two colors at any time, so it's an easy opportunity to do a little colorwork if you haven't before (or mindless colorwork if you have!).  It doesn't take much yarn.  The black and tan pair of full mittens shown, knit in worsted weight to fit my medium sized hands, used approximately 135 yards of the main color and less than 60 yards of the contrast.  I haven't measured yardage of the fingering weight pair, but by weight I've used less than half of the skein of main color.

Would you like to make a pair?  I'd love to share!  Grab your knitting bag, needles and yarn and let me pour you a cup, lets sit and knit together.  I'll be sharing the "mitten recipe" here on the blog, and I'll do that over a few days time, starting with what you'll need to make them and then the cuff, moving on to the thumb and the simple matter of finishing up.  Are you participating in the Basket of Mittens 2018 KAL (I hope you are!)  If so, Tiffany and I are planning a little "KAL within the KAL" for March, using this pattern.  If you decide to knit them and post to the Ravelry group, you will be eligible for an extra prize particular to these.  That will run from March 1 to 31st.  Not on Ravelry?  I'd still love to see if you knit these mittens, so feel free to tag me on instagram, where I'm @mywoolmitten

If you've made it this far, thank you for letting me ramble about mittens and sharing.  If you have any questions, please ask away!  And do consider making the mittens, maybe a pair for yourself and a pair to gift to someone.  All in the spirit of Share A Cup ~

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Full Pockets ~ Year Two of Knitting Mittens

((Oh my poor dear blog, how I do neglect you...))

It's hard to put into words how much knitting mittens (and gloves) means to me.  The symbolism of warm hands, holding hands, hands reaching out, offering a hand to another.  Not to mention living here in the middle of the mitten state.  Friends I've made through knitting mittens.  Warm and fuzzy feelings ;)

Thinking on these things and knitting Pia's Shine Mittens last year inspired my own Year Of The Mitten 2017 and then the Basket of Mittens Knit-A-Long. My friend Tiffany of The Woolen Homestead podcast and etsy shop has been a wonderful co-host and her Ravelry group is where we base the KAL.  Fun and relaxed, meant mostly to encourage and inspire, when asked we were most happy to continue for a second year the Basket of Mittens KAL.

Come and join us!  I have a goal ~ mittens for every pocket, LOL, so whatever coat or sweater or jacket I'm wearing, I'll have a pair of mittens to go along and not have to search for any (full pockets you see)  But you can knit one pair, or six or a dozen it's totally up to you!  Knit or crochet, full mittens or fingerless mitts, gloves.  Make them for yourself or for gifts or charity.  We occasionally offer prizes, too!  

If you're on instagram, be sure to tag your project #basketofmittenskal2018 so we all can see.  There are several other wonderful mitten kals happening this year and we welcome double-dipping!  One thing we really try to encourage in this kal is sharing mitten knitting tips and hints, favorite patterns and designs.  In that spirit, I have something I want to share with you about my personal favorite mitten technique and a little design to offer up.  I'll be putting that here on the blog, beginning tomorrow (February 21)  Not a pattern so much as a plan for making mittens.  I'd love to see you here so I can share!  Bring your favorite cup of something warm to drink ;)

Mittens in progress, coffee always close at hand ~

Be sure to join The Woolen Homestead Ravelry group if you haven't already to be eligible for prizes and show us your mittens!

Pattern above Minky Mittens by Gretchen Tracy

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Summer of "S" ~ sort of...

Well sheep, of course!

And spinning ~ (finally, I've felt like spinning again!  It's been forever...)

Some mitten knitting ~ (again, had lost the mitten knitting desire...)

A sweater to finish ~ (which I am dutifully working on, even in the heat...)

And a new one to begin, one with soulful inspiration!

Take one lovely Bye Brook Farm, Romney lamb fleece from Maine.  Blend it into roving with one of our Serenity Farms Corriedale lamb fleeces.  Decide that the beautiful blend deserves to do more than languish in the stash (it's that amazing rusty black that reminds you of faded upholstery or vintage quilts, with threads of tinsel silver running through). Think longingly (so longingly that it's almost a physical pain, LOL) of how much you would like to be in Maine later this summer with Sarah of FiberTrek and her Wool Scouts retreat here.

Do a little sample spin of the lovely roving, and think of Maine sheep and Michigan sheep.  Maine wool women and Michigan wool women.  Start thinking about sweaters from handspun yarn that would be fitting for a Maine coast or a Michigan farm.  Listen to Emily of Fibre Town Podcast's Summer of S 2017 here .  And the idea of how to be a long distance dreamer participant of the retreat was born!

I'm spinning to knit a Maine to Michigan sweater!  I searched through dear Ravelry to find a Maine designer for my pattern (I was already thinking of a few) and had pretty much decided on Second Grace by Bristol Ivy.  But then, a few of my wool friends (Sarah and Patricia and Clare to be exact!) were knitting  Seachange by Jennifer Steingass.  I didn't want to start another sweater until I finish my Gingerbread so I didn't cast on when they all did, but the Gingerbread will be finished by the time I'm done spinning the yarn for Seachange and then I will start in.

My aim is to finish spinning and have the yarn washed and ready to go so I can cast on at the beginning of the Wool Scout retreat.  Emily's Summer of S craft-a-long goes until September.  I doubt I'll have the knitting done by then, but the spinning definitely! 

So there...there is my inspiration.  Will I stay focused and finish all these dreams?  I hope so.  I'm finding myself more single minded in my knitting and spinning pursuits these days.  And I rather like that.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

April Showers Bring...Knitting?

Lack of blog updates do not mean that knitting hasn't been happening!  Mitten knitting specifically but also....drumroll please....sweater knitting!

Yes, it's true, I started work on a sweater and this time, darn it, I aim to finish.  Because the truth is that in all my years of knitting and despite many starts and intentions...I've never completed a sweater for myself.  Can you imagine?  LOL, I feel no shame in this but I have decided that it's a knitting goal I am going to accomplish in 2017.  More on the sweater later, but right now I wanted to catch you up on the mitten knitting so far this year.  (Have you been following along in Tiffany's Ravelry group The Woolen Homestead? Much of our mitten chatter is happening there)

So, I'm continuing to diligently work on my Shine Mittens.  Slowly, but loving every minute of it.  I had intended to finish them by the 20th of March, but it didn't happen.  Now my goal is by the end of April.  I started and stalled making a pair of Shetland Garden Mittens for the New Hampshire Knits Mitten KAL.  I even won a wonderful prize at the cast-on "party"!  But my fingers and hands were really rebelling against more tight knitting of lots of stitches on small needles and my gauge was terrible.  I've set those aside to begin again at another time (possibly in the fall?)  Because I LOVE the pattern!

Another mitten pattern I was excited to begin was the Reflecting Light Mittens by Emily of FibreTown podcast.  I knew I wanted them to be made from handspun.  The handspun I had picked out Corriedale, with Lincoln as the contrast, is perfect mitten yarn.  But again, gauge was off and after no less than three false starts....I've also set them aside until the Shine Mittens are finished.  Might have to chose different handspun (luckily there is plenty of that on hand!)

I mentioned that I won a prize in the New Hampshire Knits Mitten KAL?  I was absolutely thrilled to win the Selbu mitten package donated by the truly marvelous Patricia from Knitography.  This was pattern and traditional Norwegian yarn to make them with!  Oh how badly I wanted to cast on the mitten the minute the yarn arrived ;)  But I also want to savor and enjoy the process, so they will be cast on after Shine is finished.  I'm planning that for the first of May.

So those are the mitten updates.  So far this year I've finished a full pair of mittens, a pair of fingerless mitts, and have been dedicated to a third pair.  I need to kick it up a notch!  We've awarded prizes in January (yarn) and February (pattern).  No prize in March, but I think I'll get one out for April, probably from the Finished Object thread of The Woolen Homestead group (mentioned above)  And I'm thinking of a large giveaway in May, watch for details.

Finally, just a little bit about the sweater I'm working on.  I'm totally weak for a good, relaxing KAL.  And when darling Kate of Hawthorne Cottage Craft podcast announced her first kal for The Gingerbread Sweater...well, I just gave in.  Partly because I had the perfect ginger colored yarn (our "Dunbonnet" from the moorit sheep).  So I cast on and am really having a good time with it!  It's knit in the round, top down but with interesting details.  I'm at the endless knit, knit, knit stage but that's okay (need a little mindless craft these days)

And that's it!  What have you all been up to?  At the end of this month we'll be shearing the sheep.  Lambs should arrive after the first of May.  Grass is slowly greening.  I'm looking forward to our first ever Finnsheep yarn when it comes back from the mill (I mentioned it here, on our yarn blog) and more Corriedale blends with Outlander inspired titles.  OH, and I've finally...finally taken the plunge and started on instagram, can you believe it?  Come and find me as @mywoolmitten!  Strictly knitting and the farm related.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

More of the Mittens!

Here we are at the end of January, three weeks into the Basket of Mittens 2017 "project".  It's been great fun to see lots of people joining in, here at the blog, through Ravelry or Tumblr and from Tiffany's podcast, The Woolen Homestead.  We've been mentioned in a few other podcasts as well, how exciting!  Thank you Jennifer of Driftless Knitting and Ali, Little Drops of Wonderful!  I love both of these podcasts, go and give them a look if you haven't already.

I thought I'd share a little of my progress and also try to answer some questions I've received.  And at the very end, our first prize giveaway!  First off, I finished my first pair...and within 24 hours, I lost them!!!  Arrgh!!!

This picture shows one of the pair of mittens, pattern is Those Zig Zag Mittens via Ravelry.  Now I know the finished pair is in this house somewhere!  We have been doing some "spring cleaning", organizing and painting...they've simply gotten taken from the table and put somewhere they don't belong.  I'm having faith they'll turn up.

However, not a good start to filling the basket, is it?!?

I'm continuing to work on my Shine mittens, I'm knitting both mittens at once but on two separate sets of dpn's.  I've finished the cuff on both, have the thumb gusset complete on one.  Slow but joyful knitting those are!

In my organizational efforts, I gathered together some WIP's (works in progress).  UFO's (unfinished objects).  All mittens....

What a jumble!
And obviously, I have a thing for grey/silver (and cream), LOL!  I couldn't help but think of Sarah of Fiber Trek ;)

Here we go, all sorted...

There are five on the go mittens on this table (plus two that got left out of the picture).  Maybe I don't need to cast on any new mittens for February, but rather finish these?  What do you think?  I don't know, I may need to cast on at least something colorful ;)  But I'm going to make myself finish one pair from this group first, how does that sound?

I wanted to answer two questions I've been asked.  One is from June, for a favorite pattern for handspun mittens.  June, I've made several pairs from handspun, not from patterns that particularly called for it.  I think if your handspun is close to gauge for the required yarn, it will work!  I need to search my "archives" for photos of some I've made. This free top down pattern is one I like, and I've made a few times.  Someone else asked if there were any good YouTube videos on making mittens, and the only free one I found that I thought was pretty good is this one from KnitPicks.  However, she uses magic loop and I'm not sure how easy that is for a beginner?  Maybe I'm underestimating ;)  Otherwise, it's got some helpful tips.  I believe that Craftsy has a good paid for class on making mittens.

Also,  a reminder that crochet is totally welcome in this kal!  And as you can see, WIPS are welcome, too ;p

Finally, it's time for our first giveaway!  Are you excited?  Did you even know this was coming?  LOL...giveaways will be random throughout the year, I'll try to do them once each month but don't promise it.  I'll try to coordinate with Tiffany to do some through her Ravelry group, too.  For this first, though, I simply wrote down the names of everyone who contacted me in some way (blogs, Ravelry, email) and drew your name.  I hope you'll trust me ;)  The winner is ****  drumroll please **** ~

Ali, from Little Drops of Wonderful and via Ravelry!!!  The prize is one skein of yarn from the farm, wool from our Corriedale sheep, in natural colors...250 yard skeins.  I'm so excited for the first prize to be given....

I think next month's prize give away will be for a lovely mitten pattern, so stay tuned.  And tell me, have you started your mittens/gloves?  Still in the planning stages?  Pulling out unfinished pairs?  LOL, I'd love to know!