The Kaamos mittens pattern is now complete!
While the October sun was fading into November, I was knitting my pair of Kaamos mittens. On my daily walks I was looking at the sun and how it stayed lower and lower near the horizon. We are heading for light but the days are still very short and now they have also got colder. It was -5°C (23F) and windy today, so the weather did not feel mild any more. January and February are usually very cold months up here and keeping the cold away is best done by wearing wool, often even layering wool.
Sometimes the design process from the beginning to the end is pure joy, you see in your mind's eye the final product and then you just knit it, making only minor adjustments here and there. When you arrive at a problem, the solution is there waiting for you to pick it up. It felt like that when knitting these mittens, but there was some preliminary thought and trial behind the design.
Raanu's, the woven woollen coverlets of the north have been on my mind many times and I have often thought about knitting the patterns. If one does striping in stockinette, that is easy, but when one knits the stripes with two colors and then tries to mount the stripes into stockinette background, there is trouble: as the tension of the stranded part is a bit tighter than the surrounding stockinette.
I have tried to solve this problem by changing needle size but the fabric never felt stable. And this is the point where I always laid aside my idea of knitting raanu-patterns. I am not sure why it never occurred to me before that there is quite a simple solution to this, but only did I discover it this fall.
The discovery led to three fantastic results. First of all I could keep the tension even and the fabric would be balanced. Then, I would get a toasty and warm pair of mittens. And as a bonus, the fabric would be perfect canvas for embroidery.
Can you guess? The solution is quite simple, really. If the stripes were knitted with patterning, that is if they were stranded, then the background should also be stranded, as in Fair Isle knitting (not as is twined knitting, although one could do that if one would like to). I love the result; even, thick, warm, firm.
The cuffs are long and wrist hugging and the mittens have thumb gussets so they are pleasing to wear. I used Finnwool and Estonian wool Evilla to knit my pairs but good alternatives would be Kauni and Shetland style fingering weight wools.
To stay loyal to my Finnish roots, the embroidery pattern is an interpretation of the sun that appears in Finnish embroidered woollen coverlets. Sometimes one looks for inspiration too far away, as it can be quite close, and one just has to see it.
I think that these might be the best mittens I have ever made.
The pattern is now available in my Ravelry pattern store, just click the link on the right.
Wool with you,