Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mittens and mornings

Now that the white nights of summer are gone, the stars are back on a cold, brisk, clear night. Early morning greets with beautiful sunrises. I had forgotten the sunrises. I realized it this week when I woke up very early and witnessed the day breaking. I took these pictures this morning, around 7, the morning was still new but sun already quite high.
Can you just feel the bite in the air? (I am sure his paws were freezing… These two play together a lot, Väinö is someways very dog-like. He follows me around, is usually close by when I am out and about; and when I call him, he most of the time comes running.)
The temperature was just a few digits above zero. Perfect to take along a heavier coat, a thick scarf and fingerless mittens, hot cup of coffee and sit for a bit in the fresh air. Listen to the day come in with soft steps. Then later to be welcomed to the warmth of the kitchen and the house.I have heard the swans lately saying goodbyes on their way to the south, but I did not see them today.

These mittens…
I took another route, disregarded the heavy white wool and took this Cataluna (100%) instead. I like the wool very much, even though it is worsted weight (!). The mittens will be warm and soft, warm but not warm enough by themselves. Up here you always need double layer during the winter months; hence the lining mitts in this dark red Madelintosh Tosh Sock. During the winter my hands suffer, they become red and dry and tender, thus ultra soft lining mitts are the best way to go, Tosh sock meets this demand very well.
Heavy, double layer mitts seem bit off the place at the moment… The color combination is maybe little bit too warm, I should have paired this oatmeal with colder tones, even though the cold red lining mitts cool off the temperature. I am thinking that when the time is right for these double mittens, the colors are also right. As the world turns all blue and cold, any warmness is going to feel right. But the beads! I know, possibly too much, but I could not help myself. Maybe I should have added a silver thread to run with the wool to add spark to the stars?
I finally forced myself (just the right word, seems little rough though) to knit two mittens at the same time. I did  that for the lining mittens, as they were so simple, plain sockinette only (with the exception of one little roositud star there) and I was afraid of the second mitten becoming a TASK. It did feel awkward in the beginning, I missed my thin double points (2mm/US0) badly at first, but round by round it became easier and I think I am converted. I tried the magic loop, but my old long 2mm circulars’ cords were impossible, they curled like crazy; instead I used Addis, two 24” ones. I am going to try to heat the stubborn circs today for a bit to see if they will become more manageable, it not, I will need to buy new.
(The pictures here are of the unfinished mittens, but the pair is done now and blocking. Hopefully I can find someone who is willing to pose for mittens this week.)
This Roositud Inlay method is unique in Estonian mittens. I am not sure if it has been used anywhere else, but then my mitten research is not thorough at all. The method is very simple and you can use all sorts of little, short bits of wool. The appearance is very much like satin stitch, but is done differently. You take the piece of wool and just bring it to the front of the knitting, knit a few stitches according to the pattern, then take it to the back side, knit on and the wool traps between the rounds. It is not difficult and is described at least in “Folk knitting in Estonia” by Nancy Bush and in “Eesti Silmuskudumine 1 Tavad ja tehnikad” by Anu Pink, Siiri Reimann and Kristi Jõeste (I think this book is translated into English).

If you use wool for the mittens, you should not have problems with floats, as wool felts with wear a little and will anchor the floats. You might want to pay attention on picking the motif, and go for the shorter floats. This technique is somehow a combination of intarsia and embroidery, and the easy way out in both of those fields. If you are looking for something to spark up your sock or mitten knitting, try this technique. And there is no reason, why you should not use this for garments as well.

Wool with you,

Thursday, September 08, 2016

One mitten

...fell off my needles and I’m both happy and quite surprised!
Sometimes I have to try hard to find something to make; I fret and frustrate and exhaust myself by looking all over and just cannot stumble on anything interesting. Then, sometimes, accidentally, quite unexpectedly I discover something and it leaves me astounded. Like this mitten yesterday.
I had two balls of TeeTee Saga yarn, 100% Peruvian wool (suitable for felting especially) on my desk. The wool is chunky, 140m/100 grams, on normal circumstances far too thick for me, but for some odd reason I took a long look at it. The yarn has lots of air and compresses when pressed. I picked up 3,5mm needles, way smaller than the ball band recommends (5,5-6mm). There were just two balls and I had mittens on my mind (they are my home coming knitting); mittens benefit from tight gauge. I cast on, knitted twisted ribbing for a few rounds and after looking at twisted cable patterns for a while, disregarded the books and thought about embroidery. Since I had one pair (with twined knitting and handspun) in need of embroidery on my desk already, I decided not to take that route.
Then I remembered the Estonian mittens and the ones pattered with “roosimine”. My yarn was chunky, quite contrary to beautiful, exquisite Estonian mittens, but none the less, I was going to try with big gauge. What a surprise there was waiting for me!
I have been looking at the mitten for quite a while now, and I think it is safe to say that I like it. Even with this huge gauge, this looks lovely; but please, nothing compared to the authentic Estonian ones. So easy to make and so stunning result… The spirit of this one is totally different though, it is cushy and soft and almost looks like a different technique.
The mitten… It is going to be treated as a swatch at the moment, as there are many things that need to be improved. I tried new kind (new to me) of decreases on top and they need some work, plus I adjusted the top shaping and I am not sure how that turned out. The placement of the motifs is little off. I can’t make another to match as I know of all the mistakes, and I am not sure I have enough yarn for two pairs. So I rather use the yarn for making a good pair next and then possibly if I have enough yarn left, I will make another mitten to match this, more or less match, maybe with minor adjustments.
I am so happy knitting today!
Wool with you,

PS. Fuzzy yarns and photos, impossible combination for my skills…