Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Goldilocks and the Four Mitts

Once upon a time, Goldilocks was matched up with her mitten swap partner, and the partner said they might like to have some *fingerless* mitts. So, one day while the three bears were out gathering nuts and berries in the woods (because, you know how distracting it is when you are trying to knit a charted pattern and bears keep asking you what’s for dinner), Goldilocks sat down to plan out what sort of non-humdrum mitts she would knit for her pal.

She thought that maybe she should include some wristwarmers too, since her pal wasn’t getting a full mitten. And she wondered for a long time what color the mitts should be, since her pal hates the colors she likes, and loves the colors she has, um, issues with. Goldilocks looked through many many patterns for mitts and for the legs of socks, and the Harmony Guides, and the Walker Treasuries. Her pal liked cables you see, and colorwork too.

Goldilocks saw a cute twisted cable on a sock pattern, and went to Excel to chart it all out with the right stitch count for a wristie.

Mitten Swap Wristies - Old Chart

Then she pulled some chocolatey brown Regia Silk sock yarn out of the stash. And she began to knit, and add beads, and knit. “Oh My!” she cried, “These wristies are already beginning to fuzz and pill! And you can’t see the gansey pattern, and oh crap, where’s the Gems Pearl.”

Mitten Swap Wristies - Fuzz
Nice and soft, but already fuzzing

So, Goldilocks went back to the stash for some Louet Gems fingering weight in a nice dark chocolate color, and started to knit, again. And she realized she still couldn’t see the little gansey diamond in the dark yarn, and the beads were awfully futzy, and it was late, and she was tired. So, the chart was reworked to have just the nice traveling stitch cables, and she knit on. “Oh My!” she cried, “These wristies are too small!” And then she said “Unless her wrists are very thin, and well, I would wear them, and oh crap, I think I’ll start the mitts instead.”

Mitten Swap Wristies - with nose
Even though she was getting a lot of good help, they were Too Small

Goldilocks went to visit her friends at the yarn shop (Hi Elizabeth and Kathleen) and just couldn’t decide. The solids were too solid, and the variegated yarns wouldn’t show the cables on the mitts, and she didn’t know what to do. Some variegated Diakieto would make perfect simple wristies, but was that too much of one of the forbidden colors in the mix? Here’s some pretty Ultra Alpaca Light in Redwood Mix, an approved color, and a few more skeins of Gems Pearl are always good to have in the stash. And she went home to start the mittens.

Using the pretty deep redwood Ultra Alpaca, but on US1.5’s to get a smaller gauge, Goldilocks cast on and knit some ribbing, then looked at her knitting and was exasperated. “Oh My!” she cried, “These wristies are going to be too big!” And then she said “crap, crap, crap

Mitten Swap Mitts-1 Too Big
They would fit Mr Goldilocks

And then Goldilocks looked at the too tight wristie in dark brown Caribou Pearl, and the new skein of Citrus Orange Pearl, and the pretty light green Willow Pearl, and she re-worked the chart, again, and she cast on for a corrugated ribbing. And she stayed up way too late knitting since her husband was out of town and she lost track of time.

And she wondered if the cuff was going to be too tight again because what they say about corrugated ribbing is really true and it doesn’t stretch nearly as much as regular ribbing because the strands aren’t as long as the loop of a stitch.

“Oh My!” she cried, (well she might have said something else since she worked in construction for fifteen years and has heard a thing or two) “The cuff of this mitt is going to be too small!” And the colors of the ribbing should be reversed so the knit ribs flow into the cables, and they could be a little longer. And she went to bed.

Mitten Swap Mitts-2 Too Small
Too Small, Again

In the morning, I Goldilocks got out her US2’s (Addis, so they are 3.0mm not 2.75) and her three colors of Pearl, and she cast on, again, and she knit, again, and she tinked, and she fiddled with the chart, and she knit, and started the thumb gusset, and the chart, knit, etc.

Mitten Swap Mitts-3
This one is Just Right, or as close as I'm going to get

Even going up a needle size, and about as far as Goldilocks would go with the fingering weight yarn since she is a very loose knitter, the cuff is still snug. A little hard to get over the hand, but OK once it’s on, but her pal’s hand is a little smaller. But the cables look pretty and Goldilocks wanted to show you the stranding on the inside.

Mitten Swap Mitts-4
Keep your floats LOOSE!

And Goldilocks knit happily ever after.



1. I have only good things to say about the Louet Gems Fingering Weight! Note, old labels may still say Gems Pearl. The range of colors is great and it’s not too expensive. The yarn has a nice firm but not too tight twist, it’s not splitty, and it has endured quite a bit (OK, a lot) of tinking and re-working as I sort out the details in creating this pattern. The label says machine wash cold and 15 minutes in the dryer then lay flat to finish.

2. Remember corrugated ribbing isn’t stretchy when you plan your needle size and stitch count!

3. Ditto for cables and twisted stitches.