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Knitting Warms Hands for Winter's Chill

Dec 5, 2011

A note from Kathleen: I've invited Anne Merrow, editor of our eMag SpinKnit, here today to share her mitten knitting story and how she overcame a terrible loss: misplacing her treasured knitting notions! Enjoy.

Meet the Carvers and their flock, knit the Columbia Mittens, and discover the secrets of silk in SpinKnit Winter 2011. (Photo by Anita Osterhaug)     

Northern Colorado is expecting our third snowstorm of the season, and every year I'm unprepared for the first morning of scraping ice and snow off the car. After the first snowstorm, I decided it was time to knit myself some mittens.

Looking through my stash for a quick solution to my cold-hand problem, I found a few ounces of soft, wooly Columbia two-ply yarn from Imperial Yarns that I'd dyed bright turquoise. (Columbia is one of my favorite breeds to spin, but with storm clouds on the horizon, the mulespun yarn was perfect.)

Summer Sunshine for Winter Woolens
Imperial Stock Ranch, located in the high desert of Oregon, has been breeding and raising Columbia sheep for over a century. In the past decade, a combination of economics and passion for maintaining the locally grown wool tradition led the ranch's owners to create their own yarn line.

Under the hot sun of early August, Jeanne Carver introduced me to the flock of several hundred head (including some irresistible bottle lambs who rested in the shade of the ranch's historic homestead). Standing in the shearing barn, Jeanne pointed out the stalls through which the ranch's sheep have passed much the same way every spring for over a hundred years. Jeanne calls her wool "sunshine yarn," reminding me of its transformation from solar energy to the grass that nourishes the ranch's sheep and their fleece. With winter upon me, I need some of that sunshine!

Cold Hands, Warm Knits

Star Athena's Columbia Mitten pattern was the perfect solution to my winter chill. (Photo by Joe Coca)
Oregon designer Star Athena, who loves to work with locally produced wool, designed an irresistible pair of mittens for the Winter 2011 SpinKnit. When both hands are pressed together, a simple but clever cable pattern that wraps around each hand appears as a complete motif. The mittens are interesting to knit and quick to complete.

The cables did present one challenge, however. Sometime in the last year I lost all of my knitting notions and supplies. (Pause for wistful sigh... The notions were a near-perfect collection gathered over a decade of knitting, supplemented by some cherished hand-me-downs from my Grandmother.) I've tried to restock my knitting supplies, but somehow I haven't found the right replacement for my cable needle.

My version of the Columbia Mittens will keep my hands warm in this week's icy temperatures! Photo by Anne Merrow     
The cable pattern moves in crosses of two over two stitches, so while I worked on the mittens I worked without a cable needle; when the stitches felt especially snug I used a handy tapestry needle, stitch marker... or paper clip. My methods may not have been elegant, but my finished mittens are lovely to my eye.

Meet the Carvers and their flock, knit the Columbia Mittens, and discover the secrets of silk in SpinKnit Winter 2011. Download it today for the Mac, PC, or iPad!

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mariaph wrote
on Dec 17, 2011 5:11 AM

Hello from a cold and grey London, England. We are having our coldest winters for many years, last year it snowed for weeks and it is just starting again! I have started knitting gloves, scarf's and wraps for all my family and friends. Happy Christmas to you and keep warm, keep knitting. xxx Maria

ClareM@7 wrote
on Dec 10, 2011 5:08 PM

I was excited to hear that the new issue of spinknit was available  for the ipad too but I can't find it when I follow the link. Will it be coming at a later date?

barickmn wrote
on Dec 10, 2011 7:31 AM

What a beautiful pattern and pair of mittens, Anne.  I'm working on texting gloves/mittens for my daughter from SpinOff magazine, and I haven't started the mitten part.  The cables on these mittens are so interesting that I might have to figure out how to incorporate them in the last step of my project.  

My heart feels for your loss of knitting notions. I, too, have a wealth of needles and gadgets from my grandmother, including her knitting bag.  Each time I use something from her collection, I picture her knitting away, wearing one of her beautiful sweaters, watching Crocket's Victory Garden on PBS.  

I have found eBay to be a source of older knitting supplies, so you might find some of your favorite cable needles on that site.  

Enjoy the winter!  A snowstorm is such a perfect reason to slow down, stay inside and knit and knit and spin.  

All my best,