Monday, September 14, 2009

Mystery fleece, and more mittens

We moved recently, and in doing so unearthed a couple of fleeces of unknown provenance in dusty plastic bags. One of them is a lovely reddy brown, greyish-reddy-brown in places, that was already washed. Excellent. I spent a few hours one afternoon pulling it apart into locks:

mystery fleece

This is my favourite part, because you get to do some quality control and some colour sorting and really get acquainted with the wool before you put any more effort into it. I feel a lot of love for this one. It is very wooly and a little bit crisp, not soft, and the little sample I spun and plied (from a flicked lock) was very substantial-feeling yarn. I'm not really fussed about not knowing what it is, but if anyone wants to have a shot at identifying it, here's a representative lock:

mystery lock


In other news, I am indeed knitting Liidia's gloves, with some modifications:
  1. There's no way that a 90-stitch mitten at this gauge would fit my hand. The main pattern repeat is 18 stitches, so I'm just taking one out, and working them over 72 stitches instead. The cuff pattern is a 6-stitch repeat so it's not an issue there.
  2. Because mine is smaller around than the pattern says, I'll only reserve 16 stitches for the thumb when I get to that point.
  3. I'll make them mittens instead of gloves! In keeping with the mitten vow.

liidia's cuff looks awful

I present this photograph as part one of a lesson in why you should block all your knitting even things that aren't lace even things that are small even parts nobody will see. It's lumpy and ugly now, but just you wait.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Everywhere is mitten trouble

So I got a couple of fleeces and that is fabulous and exciting but I will tell you about them a different day because right now all I can think about is

smittens 2

MITTENS. (Smittens?) These are from Folk Knitting in Estonia, which is such an excellent book that my copy is falling apart from overuse. (Weirdly, this is the first actual complete project I've made from a pattern in it; usually I just borrow a motif and stick it on some other project.) The yarn is Knit Picks Palette, in black and white and screaming bright red, and I used 2.25mm needles, one of which was actually 2mm because I was missing one from the set and couldn't find a spare. I knitted them mostly last weekend while I was reading Husserl's Paris lectures. The reading took quite a bit longer than it should have, but I have a pair of mittens to show for it. They only seemed to use an oddment of yarn—from my one ball each of white and black, I have enough left for another pair of the same pattern or one with a similar ratio of black:white.

They're shockingly bright. I think using white instead of cream may have been a mistake. I will try not to wear them when it is sunny outside so nobody gets blinded.

smittens 1

The contrast colour (black) in my pair "pops" a lot more than the contrast colour in the other pairs on Ravelry. I think that is because of how I strand the yarns: the main colour goes on top and the contrast goes underneath, which means the contrast stitches tend to stand out a bit more. (I used to waffle about which should go on top until I read an article somewhere, in Interweave Knits maybe, which described the phenomenon. I don't remember whether or not it took a side.) My opinion is that this is a feature not a bug, but now I am curious about the habits and preferences of other knitters. Any other opinions?

Now I am jonesing for more mittens! I have been staring at this photograph of 4500 pairs of Latvian mittens for the better part of a week. It is not quite mitten season where I am but it will be soon, already at night sometimes I want to be wearing warm woolly things, and I intend to be prepared. In anticipation I ordered some more Palette in twelve different colours. I like their new selection; it is much more sophisticated and usable than the old pukey taupes and crayon brights (of which screaming red is an example).

Did you know that at the beginning of this year, I swore a solemn mitten vow to myself? The vow was, This year I will knit a lot of mittens. I broke it in favour of dilettantism, mostly—I knitted a lot of nothing in particular. But there are a few months left of the year and these mittens only took a few days, so there is still time to make good.

This week I have a big chunk of Heidegger to read; I think I will knit a mitten version of Liidia's gloves, from the same book.