28 November 2009

Mitts for Jamie

I made mittens for my neighbor DSB, and quickly realized I needed to make something for his girlfriend Jamie, as well. They are sweethearts, and it's a little weird to give Ben "thank-you mittens" but not give Jamie something -- as they BOTH care for our cat when we're away. But I did need to come up with something fairly quickly, as I don't want to run into Christmas and have them feel obligated to give us a gift in return.

Fortunately, I found two balls of gorgeous-aubergine Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed in the sale bin at a LYS, and although I really like this yarn and wanted to make something for myself with it, I also knew that this was the perfect color and tweedy-delicious texture for fingerless mitts for Jamie. She's a hardcore gardener and actual florist (I would say her nascent floral business is "budding," but that's just too much), and fingerless mitts will be just the thing for keeping her hands and wrists a bit warmer while still being able to dig in the dirt.

Also, she has a pretty rockin' floaty-girly-layers personal style, and some sweet cabled mitts will fit in perfectly. So I found the free pattern Natalya on Ravelry, and cast-on Monday night... and finished on Wednesday. Perfect.

I plan to deliver both pairs of thank-you mittens today. The wind has picked up quite miserably, so I have no desire to leave the house, but fortunately, they just live around the corner. After I deliver them, I'll re-cozy-fy myself with a nice cup of hot chocolate, and figure out what I'm going to knit next.

Mittens for Ben, take two

These are the mittens I made for my neighbor DSB. I used exactly one skein of Cascade 220, with no leftovers!

I improvised the pattern:

CO 60 sts on size 5 dpns, and double-knit in the round (look up double-knitting -- I'm not enough of an expert to explain it here, but it means you have two layers of knitted fabric) for a couple of inches.
Start increasing for thumb gusset -- first on the inside layer, and then on the outside -- and increase every other round (so, once inside, once outside, and then do a plain round once inside and once outside) until you have added 16 stitches to each layer.
Set thumb sts. aside and reconnect hand stitches to continue in the round.
Keep going until the hand is big enough to fit.
Um, decrease a few rows in there somewhere, and on your last round, do a full-on knit-purl-knit-purl to connect the two layers (so the inside layer won't come out when you pull your hand out of the mitten). I think I ended up with about 12 stitches at the end. It makes a pretty star at the top. Then run the end of the yarn through those last 12 stitches and pull tight. Weave in end.
Return thumb stitches to needles, knit the thumb until it's long enough, do a round of p2tog decreases on the inside layer, then a round of k2tog decreases on the outside layer. Do one row of kpkp like for the top of the mitten, then close off the top of the thumb. Weave in ends, and use the beginning-thumb tail to close up the hole between the thumb and the hand.

If desired, use remaining yarn to crochet a chain, and connect the chain to the wrist of each mitten. String through coat sleeves and pretend you are a four-year-old!

Watch out, because these took me a freakin' month to make. Double-knitting is soooooo sloooooowww.

Mittens for Ben

(editor's note: I wrote this post a month ago, but was having technical difficulties... photos added to next post.)

Dear Sweet Ben (DSB) lives around the corner from me. He is NOT the same Ben who lives down the street, for whom I made a pair of Dashings last year (and no, I have never seen him wear them). DSB is an alumnus of my undergrad college in Iowa, and just happened to move here a year-and-some ago to go to grad school -- and we would have never known each other, except that another neighbor, a person in his grad department, connected us. He’s good-natured and kind, and just a very nice person. We try to be good neighbors to each other – sharing garden produce, the occasional houseplant/cat-sitting, I’ll give him a ride to school (or partway) if I see him out walking in the dead of winter, etc.

DSB got mild frostbite on his fingertips last winter, carrying his groceries home from the co-op without his gloves on. I promised him I’d make gloves, and even went so far as to ask him what color his coat is and buy the appropriate yarn (basic light gray Cascade 220), but then the weather warmed up and the need was not urgent. Now that the air is getting colder in that inevitable decline toward Real Winter, I need to make good on my promise. Also, when my grandmother died last month, DSB was totally willing to care for Doc at a moment’s notice. I’m also going to bake cookies. He deserves a big thank-you from the Holyknitter household. As does his girlfriend Jamie, who also rocks equally (even though she was out of town when Grandma died, so she wasn’t around to help with the cat this time – she has in the past)(I will probably make her mittens at some point, too, but haven't done any planning for that yet).

Anyway, DSB is getting a pair of double-knitted mittens (I'm using size 5s, so they'll be nice and dense as well as double-layered! No frostbite here!), complete with feeding-through-coat-sleeves string. It’s been a loooong time since I’ve done any double-knitting, so it’s taken me a while to get the hang of it. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with the thumb, as double-knitting one seems like it will be a pain. Then again, I do have to increase for a gusset anyway. We’ll see what I decide.

Don't you love how I leave you in such suspense at the end of my blog posts?