Monday, 18 July 2011

Please Knit These Mittens For Me

Could you possibly say the title to yourself to the tune of, Save All These Kisses For Me? Thank you. That's very helpful.

Now, here's the thing. Since I started with the colourwork knitting thing I have this mad obsession for mittens. One of the things you do not realise if you are not a knitter is that there is this subculture of things which are popular to knit because either they are fun or showcase techniques or patterns etc (like lace shawls. Non-knitters, have you any idea how popular lace shawls are? Don't talk to me about neon or colourblocking or pencil skirts or whatever. Lace shawls are where it's at). Anyway, mittens appear to be another popular thing to knit and I love them. I favourite them, I queue them, I am never going to have time to knit them all, so I want to share some of the amazing mitten patterns I have found with you and then someone else might get the mitten-knitt'n (see what I did there?) bug and I can live vicariously through them. Look: it's mittens, not ketamine, I'm a good person.

This is a selection of my current favourite mitten patterns. Note: THESE ARE NOT MY MITTENS, I have not knitted them, the mitten designers have very kindly allowed me to use their photographs (if they were mine they would look a bit wonkier). I'll tell you where they come from so you can download the pattern if you want to. Also, it occurs to me that I've mostly picked pay-for patterns, I went on Mittens I Think Are Cool At This Moment, but there are also lots of free ones out there - can I point you towards Mystery + Manners by Spillyjane, for example? Or these free Cthulu mittens which are on my list to knit next?
Skulls & Flowers Mittens, by Jennifer Thompson
OK. Now, I am on my third pair of mittens and that makes me an expert, so I am going to give you some Mitten Knitt'n Tips. Firstly, the easiest kind of colourwork chart to knit is one that has repeats, like the delightful Skulls & Flowers mitten above, because this also makes it easier to see if you have gone wrong and then you don't have to undo as much and swear. However, look at that cuff: three colours in a row. Ladies, this is the PhD, the zenith, the Nobel Peace Prize of colour knitting, and I think these mittens would be an excellent way to learn three colours in a row. You are only having to do it on the cuff, it looks very effective so that would motivate you, and also there is a special two-colour-cuff option for if you are a big girl's blouse. Look at Jennifer's Unalakleet as well, isn't this beautiful? I wish I had more hands.
Kaleidoscope Mittens by Meghan Jones
Aaaah, these Kaleidoscope Mittens I love. This is colourwork for those of you (do you exist? says she, imperiously) who don't like stranded colourwork, as I strongly suspect those honeycombey sections to be done with a slip stitch technique which is straightforward. These are made with KnitPicks Chroma which we can't get in the UK but you could sub with Mini Mochi or something like that. I like the idea of knitting everyone in the family matching bright mittens like this and making them wear them when they go out together. Those of you who are my vintage may remember Howard and Hilda in Ever Decreasing Circles, well I think we have had enough of Audrey Hepburn as a style icon, yawn, and should look further afield. (Not Richard Briars though as I find him sinister).
Top Mittens Evah. Hippocampus by Torirot Design
These are Hippocampus, The Mittens Which Made Me Learn Colourwork. I have knitted one and the pattern works and is easy to follow, unfortunately my mitten looked like an alien not a seahorse due to my appalling colour choices, if you use nice colours which go together these mittens will look lovely. I love the lace cuff particularly, also note the tasteful use of 2 contrast colour-changing yarns, this is Kauni Effektgarn, which you can get here and is not too dear so I just pass on that information. This is a free pattern too, yay, thank you Torirot Design (look at her other patterns too - I also like the crochet/ knit cowl).
Deep In The Forest Mittens by Tuulia Salmela
How cool are these Deep In The Forest Mittens, hey hey? We are now entering the realms of complicated pictorial charts with no repeats, and, I will not lie to you, you will not be able to knit these very quickly as you will be glued to the chart. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing, you may really enjoy it. I find I (despite having no patience) love a really, really complex colourwork chart, I sit there knitting away crossing rows I have done off with my biro, and having an excuse to not listen to Partner's artless chatter. These mittens have a braided cuff which is also a technique I want to learn, and I think the idea of trees against a winter sky is just fabulous. If you look at the project page as well, there are some really interesting interpretations, with graduated-coloured backgrounds.
Kissing Koi Mittens by Lisa Perusse
Koi fish! Kissing! I am increasingly suspecting this is the closest I am going to get to a tattoo. I love these mittens and I have some yarn that would work for them, bites lip. I think the cuff is kind of turned under and knitted up, so that would be yet another mitten technique I could learn and possible justification for starting these lovely mittens.
Sluggish Mushrooms by Jessica Fielder
I am loving these Sluggish Mushrooms ones too because they are so unusual, and because the picture works so well with the shape of the mittens. I have not shown these to Partner but he would like them very much. After I cocked up the seahorse mittens with my mad colour choices, Partner has appointed himself Stranded Knitting Colour Consultant despite being very colourblind and also (says she tactfully) having Very Different Taste To Me. Anyway Partner has suggested all colourwork should be done in black and white 'like those charts you print out' so the combination of proper colour choices and a slug would pretty much finish him off.
Owlie Owl Mittens by Betsy Farquhar
Look, everyone loves owls, and you will be excited to learn that you can also have these Owls on an Owlie Owl Cowl. I am unable to resist this designer's patterns and am currently knitting her gnome mittens, I can say to you truthfully it is the most fun I have ever had with double pointed needles in my hands, if she has turned me into a process knitter I shall be cross and may sue. (Joking). Look at her pillow patterns as well, lovely. I looked very carefully to see if that was woodchip on the wall in the above photograph but sadly I must conclude it isn't and that I remain alone in my affliction.

Does anyone have any mitten patterns they want to share? (They don't have to be colourwork). Because, you know, I don't have enough on my list. Bring them on!


Rachel said...

Despite having no desire to learn colourwork and no need for mittens, I could be seriously tempted by those trees (see how I gravitate towards the most complicated pattern you show us? I have no sense of what might be realistic. I just can't help it.)

The seahorses are, of course, fabulous, but I can't get my head round calling them hippocampus (hippocampi?) because to me, that's a structure in the brain (named after the animals, but still). It's responsible for mental maps (amongst many other things) and is larger in London cab drivers who've done 'The Knowledge'.

Leah said...

My queue is full of mittens that I won't get around to making! Heh. I like your picks. I just finished making Entomology Mittens by Adrian Bizilia, and I love them:
Next on my list for sheer silliness are Oh Deer:

Alittlebitsheepish said...

MMmmm, such pretty mittens. Colourwork is on my "one thing that is really really hard but I must master" list, i just keep signing up to KAL type challenges that don't leave enough time, maybe I should give up work and knit mittens instead, sadly no one will pay me for that.

And if it cheers you up my house has lots of woodchip, that I can't be arsed to remove, it has artex ceilings too (ah, ancient decorating).

Susie said...

Ahaha! We escaped artex! (But we have many things which are probably worse...).

I love the Oh Deer mittens! And I like Adrian Bizilia too - especially Fiddlehead Mittens

Rachel, I think you're better off not having a sense of what is realistic because then you can just go for things and not worry. The trees wouldn't be that hard (no colourwork is really harder than any other colourwork in a way, although there is the stranding issue) - it just depends on your tolerance for charts.

I love charts (not lace). Bring them on. {Cracks knuckles}.

The Gingerbread Lady said...

I don't want to knit the mittens, I just want the mittens. As someone who always has cold extremities, I'm more interested - in this case - in the finished product, rather than the process. And I don't just want one pair, I want all of them. ALL. OF. THEM.

Wool Free and Lovin' Knit said...

I have not yet figured out a good wool- free alternative for lovely mittens such as these and therefore mittens, handknitted mittens, make me mad with jealousy. Honestly, did you have to rub my nose in it with so many fine patterns? It was really a bit over the top!

Anonymous said...

I don't have a mitten thingy going on but I do have a fingerless glove one. They all go baggy in the end so I have an excuse for piling up the patterns.

I can quite see your addiction. I had to look from a distance though as I am sure it is catching. My favourites are the lovely colourful kaleidoscope and the wonderful Deep in the Forest. Plus you must get yourself a finished pair of beautiful seahorses. I like Owlie but the colours need to be thought about and also the mushroom ones. The delight of smaller projects is that they are more likely to fit and be pleasing to wear than a jumper you have dedicated half your life to making and then instantly sags and bags or you can't get it over your head. Gloves/mittens are the new socks. More people get to see them for one thing. Charts though make me cross (eyed).

Ozzy Blackbeard said...

Oh how I love those Skull and Flowers mittens. I have extremely small hands, and sadly all the lovely mitten patterns I see are too big. Sigh. :(

Anonymous said...

OMG! I need the skulls-n-flowers! Now if only we had mitten weather in Houston. hm.

West/CJ said...

You know, I'm not big on mittens- probably because I live somewhere that they are completely useless- but those are freakin' awesome. It makes me wish I lived somewhere really cold (you know, in a different way than I normally do).