Thursday, January 05, 2012

Kaamos mittens


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,
Lene

The picture of the inside... small floats on the inside, the embroidery is there on the left, but as the fabric is so thick and the stitches so small, it is barely visible on the inside. There are few spots here and there where the embroidery shows a bit.


29 comments:

  1. I am so happy to see these mittens! Thank you!

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  2. Lovely mittens! Stranding with a single color -- how toasty.

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  3. Beutiful mittens!

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  4. Very beautiful mittens! And, yes, you´re quite right: of course the background should be stranded. It´s such a simple solution, yet I haven´t thought of it myself, but I hav ehae the same problem. Thank you for sharing the idea!

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  5. The mittens are beautiful and should keep your hands toasty warm.
    Gita

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  6. These mittens are so pretty! I am heading over to your Ravelry store right now to buy them. Thanks for making them available.

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  7. Just beautiful. I love your sun on the mittens. Very much "less is more". Nice!

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  8. You've done a wonderful job with these mittens, they're gorgeous!

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  9. These are beautiful. Thank you so much for writing up the pattern.

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  10. Absolutely beautiful!

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  11. Loveley mittens, I really like the embrodery!

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  12. I'm really impressed with your solution to uneven fabric. It's a great idea and makes the mittens look fabulous!

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  13. They are truly beautiful! And what an ingenious solution!

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  14. Maureen00:39

    Just lovely...truly beautiful mittens...art for your hands! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  15. Kimmy02:06

    Happy New Year! The pattern is in my Ravelry library. :) I am looking forward to knitting a pair. I really like the sun design too.

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  16. Beautiful mittens. I love how you incorporated the sun and solved the striping dilemma. Very striking.

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  17. Ellen in Conn04:18

    Lene, can you show a picture of the inside, please?
    Thank you,
    Ellen in Connecticut (USA)

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  18. Lovely mittens.

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  19. They are lovely and what an innovative solution to your problem. Bravo!

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  20. I love the pictures of your inspiration for these mittens. I think the idea of stranding the plain parts of the mittens also is just brilliant! I have also been bothered by the transition from plain to stranded knitting and this is a very practical, simple and elegant solution. Thank you!

    While I'm here I would like to say that I really enjoyed your descriptions of life where you live last month. I live in a cold, dark climate also (I live in Juneau, in Southeast Alaska) and I loved reading about the differences and similarities in our lifestyles.

    Thanks for writing!

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  21. Anonymous23:56

    Just trying to understand what you did: Is the body stranded by using 2 different strands of the same color?

    The mittens look great.
    margieinmaryland

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  22. Thanks for the very interesting pattern. I have a lot of mitten goals in 2012. I hope I can reach them and try this pattern.

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  23. Pieni kommentti suomeksi :-) Todella kauniit ja ajatuksella toteutetut lapaset! Pidän tavasta, jolla olet sukeltanut suomalaiseen käsityöperinteeseen ja tehnyt siitä oman tulkintasi.

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  24. You did a great job, Lene, with these mittens!

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  25. I realize I like these especially because they remind me of a pair of boiled wool mittens I had many years ago -- I wore them everywhere.

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  26. Aivan ihanat lapaset Lene!

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  27. These truly are beautiful mittens. I hope one day to become skilled enough to be able to try them!

    And i wanted also to thank you for sharing the image of the Finnish embroidery. I would love to see it in person! It is just absolutely beautiful and i can easily see why you would be inspired by it.

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