28. October 2011 03:57
At the Retreat a few weeks ago... I decided to just let loose and spin a braid of fiber free-form - aka just let the darn thing become whatever it wanted to become. I bought a braid of South African Fine Wool dyed by Waterloo Wools in a very bright and enthusiastic colorway and just tore it into 4 pieces and spun it up without thinking too hard about it. The result was a nice bouncy, light and not over spun, 2-ply yarn in about a Chunky weight. I didn't worry about where the colors lined up, and I didn't use a gauge or measure to monitor my singles. I tried to divide the fiber in approximately half, so I would have two similar balls of yarn to make something "paired" like mittens.
Here is one half of the yarn posing with a skein of lace weight that just happened to match! I really liked the texture of this breed of wool - soft like Merino, but really bouncy and fluffy. Sproingy!
As for a pattern... I decided to just wing it. I've knit so many pairs of mittens in the last 15 years... it's not even funny. I took a guess as to how many stitches might make sense, and was off without a plan. In fact, I ended up knitting to the tip of the first mitten, decided that I should have done a longer cuff, and raveled back to the cuff and added half a dozen rows. One nice thing about knitting with chunky fat yarn on reasonably large needles - the project knits up fast. I had completed both mitts (including the false start, ravel and redo) in a weekend.
The mittens did end up looking similar when finished, but still with a bit of variation in the color striping and placement. I liked the texture and variation though... gives the effect of "matching" but not "identical" mittens. More like a set of Fraternal Twins :) If you like yarn and knitting close-ups... remember to click the photo thumbnails and you'll get a nice large version of the photo... thanks to the wonderful code-monkey-husband!
I was thinking that I might like to keep these mittens myself... but lately it seems that everytime I post something new to the blog or Facebook... somebody wants to buy them! I think if the right person came along, I'd let them go, maybe.
I thought that I'd likely have zero yarn left when these were complete. My luck (since there was no chance of me getting more of this fiber or colorway) I would run out with only a stupid 4 yard piece required to finish! Not So! For once I had a little bit of yarn leftover... and I used this as a perfect excuse to make another baby hat! (I have a bunch in different noggin-sizes... just in case)
I finished the little hat and then added a VERY LARGE pompom :) I had a few scrap odds and ends from weaving in the tails on the mittens, and I didn't want to let ANY of this great stuff go to waste. I basically just tossed the ends (2 - 3 inch pieces) in a pile, lashed them together into a non-fussy pompom and stitched it to the top of the little bright toque. Maybe it isn't very practical... but I love it to pieces. Maybe (child willing) it will fit and be appropriate for photos or something?
I'm not sure if you noticed my really-fancy-hi-tech Mitten Blockers?! They're actually pieces of cardboard (2 layers of corrugated stuff from the box some electronic thing came in) that have been wrapped several times with plain old kitchen plastic wrap, and then taped haphazardly where the edges of the plastic meet. I would like to have fancy, beautiful, durable wooden ones someday (like my Norwegian Mitten Blockers made by Roger!), but this was all I had to work with at one point... so I threw them together and they've been sturdy and trusty helpers for several years now. They don't look all that pretty - but they get the job done!