Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mitten Love

There's actually been a fair amount of knitting activity chez Knitting Libran. I'm not quite sure how that happened, given long hours at work. I have three partial skeins of Manos del Uruguay that are left over from a hat project. It's nice yarn and it's a shame to let it go to waste. But what to make from it? There might be enough to make a hat, but hats and my hair do not get along. There's not enough for a scarf. There might be enough for a pair of socks, but the yarn is too loosely spun. But a pair of mittens would be perfect! This winter is cold and Tom has taken my ugly, machine-made wool mittens for running, leaving me with an inadequate pair of thin leather gloves.

I have three different shades of blue (dark, medium, and light) and there isn't enough of any one color for a pair of mittens. That led me to the idea of Fair Isle mittens, since my gauge swatch indicated that a judicious use of all three colors would give me plenty of yarn. So I dug through my books to find an existing pattern. Alas, either the mittens were too big for my hand, or the yarn was the wrong kind, or I didn't have enough colors. Sigh...

So I'm taking the creative leap and designing my own. I'm taking inspiration from EZ's Norwegian and Jogger's Mittens. I knit a gauge swatch to determine, well...gauge. And size. How many stitches do I need to cast on to get a mitten that isn't too loose? After getting that answer, I started looking for Fair Isle patterns in Sheila McGregor's book, Traditional Fair Isle Knitting. There are pages and pages of charts in the book and I figured it would be a piece of cake to whip together a design. Ha!

This pattern is too big and that one is too small; this one would be just right, except I don't like it. And that was just determining the cuff pattern. I finally found something that would work well with my original calculations. I knit the cuff this morning. It looks pretty good, except the Manos is not a good choice for two-color knitting, given the slubbiness of the yarn. The Fair Isle pattern is not as crisp as I would like it to be. But the mittens will be warm!

The cuff is knit in navy with a light blue border pattern. I was originally thinking about knitting the hand in medium blue with a light blue snowflake-y pattern, but I have more light blue than medium blue so the pattern will be medium blue. The palm will have an all-over pattern and I'm considering striping the thumb as well as placing a medium blue stripe on each side of the hand, separating the back from the palm (a la EZ's Norwegian mittens). My next task is to figure out the design placement on the back and which pattern to use for the palm. And how to do the thumbs.

I suspect that this pair of mittens will be a prototype. I'd like to see what they'd look like in a regular smooth, plied yarn. More later!

Room Makeover Progress
As is typical with old houses (104 years and counting), the work in the room is spawning additional projects. Tom is now going full-bore repairing the ceiling and wall. You know how it see a piece of loose paint or wallpaper and you just want to neaten it up a bit. So you scrape or pull and before you know it, you're determined to get every bit of old paint off the woodwork. It will give in to your will, you just have to find its weak point of adhesion. The sound of a whole lot of paint zippering off is very satisfying indeed. It's going to take months before the work it done, though. However, the hard work and the wait will be worth it. I'll have a calm, quiet, organized place to go to read, work, and indulge in my fiber-y pursuits.

Running Progress
I've finally been cleared to run! I did a short run last weekend, maybe only four miles or so, and my heel didn't get worse. So now it's time (if the stupid weather improves) to slowly start increasing the miles in preparation for the Boston Marathon. All of my travel arrangements have been made and everything has been settled. Sadly, Tom won't be able to go. It would definitely be more fun with him there. Only three months to go...yikes!

That's it for now...happy knitting!