Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Finished Mittens, and a New Hat

I finished the blue top-down mittens I've been working on for about a week. As usual, there are imponderables: why is the thumb on one mitten bigger than on the other mitten? Why did I forget to start the thumb hole until I was a couple of rows past the right point? Oh well. With mittens, fit is not crucial, and they "work" pretty much regardless.

I am still not entirely satisfied with the way the thumbs look, though. I think for my next top-down mitten I'm going to follow the directions for a change. Anna Zilboorg does not use the after-thought thumb or "thumb trick" thumb. She stops working on the mitten when she gets to the place where the thumb should be inserted; she goes and gets other dpns and makes a thumb from the top down; and finally, she grafts it onto the palm and then continues knitting the mitten. Maybe there's a reason for this. Maybe I should follow the directions.

I did follow the directions for the hat I made yesterday.  This is a pattern called "Who?" that I downloaded from the Ravelry site. I made the yarn for it while I was in TN in early fall: it is a wool/angora blend that I spun very fine and plied six strands of it together!  This is the first time I've ever plied more than three ends together. I had to make a homemade lazy kate with a shoebox and a coat hanger in order to hold six bobbins in place for the plying. But it worked fine. Plying six strands together makes for a very even yarn, as it averages out all the nubs and slubs. I was going for a worsted weight yarn, and I got one. This hat knit up very quickly as a consequence, on size 4.5 mm needles, at about 4 stitches per inch.

If you look closely, you can see owls. See them? I am going to sew some buttons on for eyes, so it will be more obvious that they are owls.

To make the owls, you make some traveling stitches by cabling across four stitches, four different times. I learned to cable without a cable needle last winter, and I had to review the Youtube video to do it again. This great video shows very clearly how to cable without a needle, and I recommend it. Using a cable needle for me slows things down and makes it so awkward that it's not any fun.

Here's a close-up of one of the owls:

I'm glad that I plied so many strands together to make this yarn. It looks almost "buyed," as my son used to say. More importantly, the cables show up because the yarn is smooth and uniform. The other times I have tried knit/purl or cable patterns with handspun,  you couldn't see the structure of the knitting very well because the yarn itself had so much texture. But here, all the plies smooth things out and make it possible to see the owls.

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