The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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Progressing the Mitts

Fair isle is not easy & has up-turned my usual knitting m.o.  In order to follow two charts, I had to get off the couch.  A large flat surface was a must, and so I have moved kit & kaboodle over to the dining table.  I’m liking it in there, and faithful Toby is happy too.  Silence & meditative knitting are good things but the faint gaming noises from the basement are not, so, I’ve resurrected my ipod.  Learning the conventional knit stitch has made all the difference in doing the fair isle justice.  As a result, I am not contorting the body for every other stitch, and it’s loosened things up considerably.

Mitt no. 1 has everything but her thumb.  Mitt no. 2 is a twinkle in my eye.  Here she is:

Topped but not thumbed - rightie Norweigan Mitt

Topped but not thumbed - rightie Norweigan Mitt

Palm pattern - rightie Norwegian mitt - thumb to come

Palm pattern - rightie Norwegian mitt - thumb to come

Goes without saying that I am hugely proud of this baby:)  I do have a hunch that ending mid-motif may not be true-to-tradition, and yes, the palm join is off-kilter.  Progress not perfection!

In terms of yarn, I’m using Sirdar Eco wool dk.  The band says 100% undyed virgin wool.  It has a great hand but is also easy to split in stitches.  It seems loosely spun but I’m hardly an authority on these things.

This is my introduction to Elizabeth Zimmermann’s patterns.  I like her style but am v. grateful this isn’t my first mitten/ glove attempt.  Thanks to the Fingerless Gloves, I know how to make this right-hand, and the next left-hand.  I’m also keeping the thumb stitches, and will make it up on the dpns next.


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Back to the present

It”s not been all slipped stitches and unwearable art.  Gradually, my hands caught on, and I started to learn the first principles of knitting. Some I have figured out on my own (again, not vouching for the techniques here) but many a leap in understanding came from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s “Knitting Rules,” and Debbie Stoller’s “Stitch-n-Bitch Nation.”  I’ve gone from wholely clueless to telling yarns apart, substituting, and lately even designing my own stuff.  I now enjoy a good pattern but don’t cling to it for dear life.

  • This is what’s on my needles now:
    Norwegian mitt in the making

    Norwegian mitt in the making

    Mindless - moss stitch cotton bag from "Debbie Bliss Home Collection"

    Mindless - moss stitch cotton bag from "Debbie Bliss Home Collection"

    Toby is kicking up a fuss, so I better go let him out.  He’s only as good as the attention he gets, this dog!  I am speaking tonight (rather reluctantly), so the status quo above will not be troubled:)


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Learning curve

The first attempts were sad little puppies but I loved them!

  • The pink streamer (little scarf to my mind) was in the yarn-to-hand school.

    Pink streamer - until I ran out of remnant yarn.

    Pink streamer - until I ran out of remnant yarn.

  • The blue tube scarf was really disappointing, even with Margaret’s kind words.  I was starting to learn that left to my own devices the stitch gauge would be all over the place.  It’s a veritable triangle that scarf:).

    Not quite a scarf

    Not quite a scarf

  • Next, we invested in some Walmart yarn, in purple.  Labels were still a mystery but I had a book!  I learned to take all of the pattern/ book directions to heart after this one.  The ‘how to hold working yarn’ instruction really made sense when I saw the thick boucle magically become ‘airy’ in my loosey-goosey hands…  This hat was a thing of joy.  I proudly wore the hat for a couple dinner dates.  Hubby was more than amused, especially when ‘airy’ and snowstorm met…  Friends were a little underwhelmed to my mind.  It wasn’t a curly tube, and for that I was happy… Purple hat has a place of honour on my dresser.

    Yes, a hat

    Yes, a hat

  • Last of the sad puppies is the matching purple mits.  What a pair they are:)  The picture should show the asymetry & how I managed to lapse into garter stitch by mistake.  They might have fit my hands at age 10 but not now.  That was Gauge 101 in my trial & error year:)

    A thumb & a half

    A thumb & a half

  • Of course, I flunked Gauge 101, so we have the Needle Sock.  So named because the lovely sock will never fit a human foot.  Produced thanks to my buying the only bamboo DPNs in the yarn store – size 1.  Yes, I finally managed the DPNs on bamboo but this sock refused to go past my big toe.

    Needle sock!

    Needle sock!


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First post:)

I’m happy to be finally setting out in the blogging world:)

The knitting thing began when I came to Canada, knew next-to-no one and was in serious culture shock.  The hubby had lived here as a kid & he fed me this line about Canada being just like Jamaica, thanks to the English… Ill-prepared, I was.  In the first winter, I was doing the rite-of-passage “requalifying”, and was pretty sorry for myself.  Missed my dog, my life, and routinely was upsetting the good people by chattering with abandon as we do in the Caribbean.  The biggest problem about winter clearly was how to dress.  Countless souls told me to “layer.”  Since they were not lifting up the top layer to show & tell, I was stuck without a clue.  This was 2005, and it seemed like the only hats, scarves & gloves were garish pink confections… Not even the cold and travelling hubby could bring me to buying those things.  I also had enough sense to know that the granny hand-me-downs were doing nothing for me – double knit green acryllic?  Hello!

So with this confluence of push-factors, I eventually bought the Knitter’s Directory (40% off helped) at Chapters, and continued to eye the local yarn store.  Hubby was amused.  His mother had taken the cold in the 70’s and crocheted.  He was more amused by first attempts.  Man, did it take some higher-level concentration.  I’m surprised the pictures didn’t wilt under my stares…  Plus with a failed attempt at piano under my belt, I knew that my hands were clumsy.  Anyhow, the Walmart yarn was put to good use, and became a skinny tube of a non-scarf.  Even I could see that.  Nothing in the directory could explain the problem, and I finally broke the ice and marched over to the LYS.  Good move.  Margaret calmly told me garter stitch does that, and kindly said that the skinny scarf is “in.”  She gave me another book, and sent me on my way.  I’m going to have breakfast but will upload pics later.

Anyhow, I’ve come a long way since first attempts, and truly love knitting.  It’s my Canadian thing.  I’m sure my technique is wonky but a month off work has led me so far that I got Knitting Around by Elizabeth Zimmerman & am trying her Norwegian mitts (again, straining to make my hands understand)!  This hiatus may be short-lived but it’s time to share The Knit Knack:)