TODAY'S POST IS BY LAURA RINTALA, managing editor of Interweave Knits, and designer of the White Witch Mitts: our new featured free pattern.
Laura's White Witch Mitts (free!)
have to admit, when Eunny asked us to do some sort of movie-inspired
knit for our spring staff project, my mind sort of went... whirrlllll
ka-chunk. You see, I’m not a good movie-goer. It’s not that I don’t like
movies. I just don’t ever seem to have the free time to take in a
movie. You kill that whole afternoon—and what do you have to show for
it? A little sore bum and twenty bucks out of your pocket. Yes, sadly
enough, I equate time in a theater to time away from productive things
like eating, knitting, shopping for groceries, knitting, paying the
telephone bill, knitting, getting the brakes fixed before the rotors
have to be replaced. You get the idea.
So, I really did not have many movies in my repertoire to choose from.
Let’s see, Blood Diamond (mmm, not a good movie for inspired knits), Hotel Rwanda (ditto)... The few movies that I did see did not inspire great knits in my mind’s eye.
But way back last year, oh, early in the year, my husband and I did rent the newest version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,
and I have to admit to being a bit of a C.S. Lewis fan. I didn’t
remember being dumbfounded by any knits in the movie, but I did have
plenty of inspiration in that wicked, wicked white witch.
Hard, cold, and bloody heartless; shades of dingy white and gray. It
all jelled pretty quickly, and I set to work on a pair of mittens that
would be as soft and warm as I felt that white witch was cold and hard.
I wanted mittens that would protect one from the cold, yet carry the
definite imprint of the cold on the outside.
On Knitting Fuzzy Fair Isle in August
I started knitting the mittens in Iowa, in August. Have you ever
been to Iowa in August? Trust me when I say, the white witch never put
a finger on Iowa in August. Even Aslan might object to the general
climate. Hundreds of yards of fuzzy alpaca yarn followed me around Iowa
for several days as the mitts grew. And here are a few things I learned
about alpaca Fair Isle mitts in Iowa … in August.
• You really should not knit alpaca mittens in a very hot, moist
climate. Wait until January or at least October. Alpaca may well be my
favorite fiber to work with, except when it’s so hot that little fluffy
bits of it stick to your nose unceasingly, and the more you try to wipe
them off, the more bits get stuck fast.
• I love Fair Isle work, and I strongly encourage every knitter in the
world to try two-handed stranded knitting. It looks horribly
complicated to those who don’t get it, and this means oodles of ahs and
ohs from family and friends, which relates to general feelings of great
self-worth for the knitter. Bonus: You get the most beautiful things to
wear and share when you’re done. My sister, an artist, received these as a gift, and she still ladles on the compliments.
• When working Fair Isle patterns in the round on dpns, pull hard and
stretch out the stitches on needles as you go (keep a bit of space
between each stitch on the needle), to keep your work flat and even.
You may even want to go up a needle size to keep your gauge and knit
tightly. When you work on dpns, it’s easy to get loopy needle-end
stitches unless you pull them tight, but you don’t want your floats
between stitches to be too tight because the fabric will pucker.
• I have small hands—not tiny, but petite—and these mitts fit my hands.
If you do not have small hands, you may want to add a few extra
stitches to this pattern to make bigger mitts.
• If at all possible when knitting Fair Isle, weave in ends as you go.
That’s tricky with mitts, but if I’d been making a sweater and waited
until the end to weave in all my ends, I might never knit Fair Isle
again. Do a little as you go and keep the mess of ends to a minimum,
making the finishing faster. I wove in all the ends (except the
thumb-hole scrap yarn) before I knit the thumbs, so I minimized the
final sewing in of ends once the mitts were finished.
—by Laura Rintala, managing editor of Interweave Knits
On Friday:Sandi returns with the Gallery Poll results (there's still time to vote!) and the interesting things you all said about what you needed to become a Fearless Knitter.
Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.
What's on Sandi's needles? The Gathered Pullover, and sleeves of the Secret Project. I finished the body yesterday!