25 November 2011

like a red verb over the snow

One last entry in the 'things I knit but did not blog' category.

I had a fair amount of yarn left over from last Christmas' projects. This is not a problem -- I would much much rather have an extra skein or two of yarn than run out at 3 o'clock on Christmas morning with half a thumb to go on a mitten.

The challenge with leftover Christmas yarn is not only 'what to do with it,' but also 'to whom to give the finished project.'  I try very hard not to be the mythical mad auntie who knits everyone three-armed sweaters out of lime-green acrylic yarn. This means that I knit only for those people I know will appreciate the things I knit, and I knit them things I think they will like, in colours I think they will like. The Christmas yarn leftovers, therefore, are often in colours I wouldn't wear myself.  Throwing out perfectly good yarn is not an option, so I have to find other small gifts to knit with the remains.

I had quite a bit of red yarn left over from making slippers for Maman last year, and a little bit of brown. I took an admittedly easy route and made another gift for her from these remnants, this time a pair of mitts.

Frilly Mittens

Pattern: Frill by Mary Jane Mucklestone
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Cranberry and Dune Twist; 4.5 mm / US 7 needles

These are far less complicated to knit than they look, and use very little yarn -- only a few yards of the contrast colour, and less than a skein of the main colour.  You could, of course, do without the contrast colour. The pattern gives directions for three sizes and several variations.

The frilly effect is mainly from the picot cast-off (third technique in the article); a plainer cast-off would make plainer mitts for those who do not want the frill.

I learned to like fingerless mitts like these when I lived in Scotland.  The history postgrads were extraordinarily lucky in that we had university-provided offices in which to study, write, and meet with students, but those offices were in the unheated basement of the university's art gallery.  It was, as you might imagine, often cold, and we bundled up like Bob Cratchit hoping the ink wouldn't freeze.

Though I am now in a comparatively luxurious workspace -- though that comparison is to an unheated basement room, remember -- I still sometimes find it useful to have mitts.  They're also useful worn over leather gloves on cold days.  That little bit of extra warmth where the cuffs of glove and sleeve may gap a bit makes a difference.

Henry Carlile

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