I love cuffs, fingerless mittens and ordinary mittens; especially I love the ones knitted with small gauge that are typical to the Baltic countries. I admire the intricate patterns and surprising color combinations. The beautiful and artistic small pieces in museums resemble sometimes almost more jewelry than utilitarian hand warmers.
Every time I cast-on for a new pair of mittens, I feel like I am having a party. Often I am restricted to practical when knitting sweaters and socks and other necessary, useful warm items; but when I am making mittens, I can feast with beauty. I can add beads, pompoms and embroidery on them, and because they are so small, I most likely cannot overdo it.
Whenever I see a book of ethnic mittens, I simply have to have it. I have a small collection of book beauties in my library and I seem to turn to them whenever I am in need of warm and wonderful. The museums of the north have collected exquisitely patterned mittens. Knitters over the centuries have added to the mitten heritage by knitting their own variations of the existing patterns. I found this old, familiar pattern in Reet Piiri's Suur Kindaraamat (ISBN 978-9985-64-486-7) and was going to make fingerless mittens with it and already made one, but... then I had to make one little strip with another color and thus had to find a way to showcase that little detail. And these Anni cuffs are the outcome.
They are quick and quite straightforward to make. There is little bit of shaping, but otherwise it is just simple no-need-to-weave-the-floats colorwork pattern. I used tubular cast-on and bind-off to make my pair. While tubular cast-on is quite easy to do, bind-off can be a little bit annoying but it does make a lovely addition to the ribbing.
I have knitted few sweaters with stranded knitting and it is something I would love to do more. I love how sometimes the patterns remind of papercut silhouettes and with just a few little carefully placed stitches, you can draw on knits. I have been doing colorwork every now and then, but I am not very comfortable in doing it. I am quite a fast knitter and every time I start a project with more than one color, I need to remind me to slow down. I somehow have to learn every time that doing colorwork is more like doing cross stitch, do one little stitch at a time, not in hunks of stitches like in some other techniques. If I am knitting with two colors, I hold both yarns in my left hand, but if there is a third color, I will use my right hand for it and throw that one. Yarn dominance is something that I focus on too, as I so easily forget which yarn is which and can accidently pick the wrong color. I have a saying "light on the left (side)", (two l's) (it works also in Finnish; vaalea vasemmalla), (two v's) and it helps me to keep the yarns in order.
I always thought that cuffs are only for adornment and their value is in their beauty, in making and wearing until I used to work in a very cold place. I added layers on layers of wool but no matter how much I had on, I always had cold hands until one day I added one more thing, woolly cuffs and realized that they do work and insulate and keep you warm and they are not only for looks. Of course, I should have realized that sooner since knitters have been making them for so long. Sleeves on sweaters are often too wide or they are not long enough to accommodate the warmth that cuffs can provide.
If you wish to make yourself a pair of Anni cuffs, you can find the pattern in my Ravelry store. There is a link on the right sidebar.
If you wish to read more on tubular cast-on and bind off, click on these links. The pattern does not have instructions for them.
YouTube link (Eunny Jang teaching) on Tubular cast-on (I usually use two to three sizes bigger needles for the cast-on than for the ribbing.)
Click for Techknitting for the Tubular bind-off.
I am not sure, if you are familiar with Kristi Joeste's mittens or if I have mentioned her before on my blog. She made a book called "Ornamented journey" with Kristiina Ehin (ISBN 978-9949-9181-7-1); the book is a collection of mittens and their stories. There aren't any patterns in the book, but it is full of inspiration and beautiful mittens. Kristi has also a blog, take a cup of your favorite drink, sit back and enjoy.
Our house plants in the previous post... I feel sorry for them; they sit on the windowsills, waiting for light and warmth. They do suffer during the dark winter and some of them end up looking quite ragged in late spring. I have never had a green thumb - sadly - and I don't know how to take care of them (I have tried gardening a few times - bad results I'm afraid...). My daughter loves flowers and plants and they all belong to her. I might occasionally give them some water if she is away for a long time; she gives me instructions. Otherwise, I just admire them.
When the girls were little, we never had any plants inside. I thought that since we are surrounded by forests and outside plants, there would be no need to keep them inside and mine never lived for a long time anyway. I think my daughter was not even in school yet when she told my Mom that she would love to have her own plants and she and my Mom shared this love. I remember well one of her first plants... She and my Mom planted SaintPaulia leaf in a pot. She used to come and complain to me that it was not making any roots. I would always answer that it takes some time, but eventually it will start to grow. So the poor little leaf was sitting in a pot that was covered by a glass for weeks. Finally, one day I discovered why this was happening... every now and then she would go and lift the glass and take the leaf off the pot to see if there were any roots yet...
Our cold temperatures have eased a bit and it is supposed to be reasonable during the coming week. I hope winter is not treating you too fiercely this weekend.
Wool with you