Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Mitten Series

The final project for our Zimmermania class this year was mittens. I ended with this because I thought that during the holidays, it would be good to end with a simple little project. I knew I would have to work on finishing up the quilting block of the month and wouldn't have much time, and I figured that with the holidays, everyone else would be in the same boat. What could go wrong with a mitten?

So I started making mittens. These are Elizabeth Zimmermann's Mitered Mittens from Knitter's Almanac, and I thought they'd be fun in a nice orange yarn. I used one of my new favorites, Shepherd's Shades. I used Elizabeth's thumb trick, where you knit using waste yarn to make the thumb hole.

But I was disappointed with them: The center seam pulled funny at the thumb.

I decided to try them in Kureyon, thinking that the stripes would be fun, and I figured I could try out Elizabeth's other thumb trick: clipping a little bit and unraveling to create a thumbhole. As I was knitting them, the mittens seemed small, but I kept thinking they'd be okay. They weren't. They were too small.

No need to hyperventilate. Clipping for the thumb was really no big deal. I never bothered picking up the live stitches, so it started fraying--especially since every time I tried on the mittens, they were so tight that they pulled on those stitches.

I did like the waste-yarn method better, so I decided to try again using that method.

Oh--and also, in the meantime, I discovered that I had been knitting the pattern wrong all along, neglecting to put in a straight round after each mitered round. That made the mittens too small. I decided to try the mittens in the orange yarn again. I did my rounds the correct way.

They were huge.

I took a break for a few days.


Now, the truth of the matter is, if we hadn't started this mitten in class, and I hadn't promised 20 people that I would have a good thumb for them in December, there is a very good chance I would have abandoned the project at this point.

But 20 people were halfway through their mittens and were depending on me to give thumb advice. The thought of having to face all those people with their half-done mittens in a few weeks was motivating.

I searched through my stash and found a yarn that I had once bought specifically with mittens in mind. By this time, I had concluded that the thumb needed to be closer to the edge of the mitten than the pattern specified. (I could have made the decision to put in a gusset, but I didn't feel like changing the pattern that much.)

I started another mitten. It was way too big. So I reduced the number of stitches and started again. This mitten seemed a bit small, but Kevin said it was fine. So I kept knitting.

Dear Kevin: I love you very much, but I do not need any help with my Knitter's Denial. I have plenty of denial on my own.

So I unraveled it and started again, adding 4 more stitches.

This time, finally.

I ended up with a nice pair of mittens that fit the way I wanted them, and the seams are relatively straight near the thumbs. Okay, Zimmermaniacs, I am ready for you. In December, we'll do thumbs--and you'll see just how easy it really is.

I am both relieved and happy.