Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Bird in Hand
I have never owned mittens in my life, then I take up knitting and suddenly I have three pairs. My first pair are a little big. I'm thinking of giving them to my mother, but I don't know if she would wear them, or if I can bear to part with them. My second pair are a wee bit too snug. I'll probably be sending them off to the Dulaan Project. But this pair, this pair is just right.
The pattern is, of course, Kate Gilbert's Bird in Hand. I started on size 2 1/2 (3.0 mm) needles and got through the second braid on the first mitten before admitting that they were just too big, ripping, and restarting on 1 1/2 (2.5 mm) needles. I've knit worsted weight yarn on size 2s before, and the tight gauge didn't get me down too much. It makes a thick, cozy fabric that I'm sure is completely unnecessary in my climate, but my hands are always freezing, so I'm sure I'll appreciate it anyway. The wind is often what's brutal, even if the ambient temperature is tame, and I'm pretty sure these are wind-proof.
The only change I made to the pattern was to knit up the picot hem before starting the braids so I wouldn't have to sew it up later. I'll admit the braids were a little tedious. I've done braids like this a few times before, but never at this tight a gauge. I spent a lot of time trying to un-split stitches. And I'm not sure they even show up that well on the final project. If I knit the pattern again, I'd probably cheat and use a purl row instead, but I'm happy that I did the braids for this pair. I'm not one to shy away from "too hard," at least when it comes to sticks and string.
The red yarn is Berocco Ultra Alpaca and the white yarn is Cascade 220. I think I'm slightly allergic to alpaca. My hands itch when I knit with it, so it's probably good that it's broken up by the straight wool.
The pattern is full of clever little details. I love how the vine motif continues seamlessly on the thumb gore. The flower detail on the palm breaks up the plainer, more regular color pattern, and ties in with the swirly thumb pattern. Even the leaf and flower motifs on the cuffs are mirrored from hand to hand. And, of course, the bird. As I was finishing up the second mitten, I wished for a moment that I had reversed the colors so that I would have little redbirds on my thumbs, but of course doves are delightful, too. (OK, the left one looks more like a duck.)
So, I should be satiated with mittens, right? Well, I might be, if Adrian at Hello Yarn wouldn't tempt me with her beautiful Selbuvotter.