Oh Mitten, my mitten

Hear me now, hear me clear. The comments on the last entry are exactly the reason why knitblogs are genius.  The opportunity to rely on not just my own resources and brain, but the collective intelligence of ever knitter who reads, is a special bit of wonder in the world, and if you’re looking for a mitten to knit, you can do no better than the listing provided to me in the last entry.  Ya’ll are brilliant good listeners with an ear to the knitground – let me tell you.  There’s a wonderful assortment given up there, and a whole bunch of great ones that almost made the cut:

Inga Snoflinga is almost perfect, and very close to being just the thing on the basis of the brilliant and charming name alone.  (Really. Say it to yourself a few times.  Inga-Snoflinga, Inga-Snoflinga…makes you almost wish it was winter so you could go out there and toss some snowballs around while developing an alter-ego. Inga-Snoflinga.)

White Witch Mittens were good except for maybe a little underpointed and perhaps a shred less fussy than I was hoping for (especially once they’re converted to two colours)

The Egyptian Mittens were very nice, except I feel that the thumbs are in the wrong place for my taste-thumbs on the sides of mitten always look to me like they are perennially hitchhiking and I like mine to be placed out of the palm, and (I know as soon as I typed that a whole bunch of knitters just had to put their coffee down and have a moment or two, because they thought that they liked me and now that it turns out the my thumb preference is the exact opposite of theirs, the world view from their computer is going to need a little shift. )

Deep in the Forest mittens are a thing of beauty (despite their thumbs) but aren’t quite right, even though I have totally let go of my knee jerk reaction to them, which is that they might harbour squirrels.  Secret, unseen squirrels, lurking in the trees.  (They don’t, I feel sure of that now, but if you say you’re not making mittens with squirrels on them, you have to think about their relationship to trees if you’re going to be totally spot on about it.)

The Amaryllis Mittens are very darn pretty, but would need to be converted for two colours, and I the edge isn’t quite what I wanted…

Ruba’iyat mittens were plenty pointy (and I do seriously respect the pointiness, and the way that the diamonds fit into the point, which is extremely sexy..) but they seemed a tad masculine (note to self, good mittens to add to the queue as 50% of the population is male.)

So all of this left me thinking, that there are a lot of almost perfect mittens out there, and then Schizospider left one of the best comments ever on the blog (go read it if you have time,  hers is one of the reasons why I read every single one..)  and she not only suggested several patterns, but ranked them off my criteria in terms of "good and bad". Very helpful, and a rare opportunity to use phrases like "squirrelless; free pattern" and I liked so many in her list, that I realized that the answer here is one that Sueinithica suggested.  Frankenmitten.

Yes, Frankenmitten – some cobbled together piece of wonder that takes all the best parts from all the nicest mittens, and comes up awesome – and that took me to the page for Heather’s Annemor #15, which had been rejected out of hand because in the brilliant and beautiful book Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition, Annemor #15 is a glove – and I’ve already said that a set of gloves was right out.  Thing is, that Heather did a little Frankenmitten action on that one herself, and stacked the motif twice and made it a mitten (a pointy mitten) and I was in love. Totally in love – and that settled it. Inspired by Schizospider, Sueinithica and Heather, I’m going to take all the best elements of all of my favourites and bash something up.

Frankenmitten.  Brilliant. I think I’ll start with a braid

(PS. I’ve switched blog clients, so if things are still wonky, please be patient. The learning curve is a tad steep.)

106 thoughts on “Oh Mitten, my mitten

  1. I love that the The Amaryllis Mittens have the date worked into the colorwork! I’m going to steal that idea for the next color project I do!
    great review of them all

  2. The SKA (Sock Knitters Anonymous) Mystery sock for Sep 2009 is by Nancy Bush.
    At the conclusion of the top-down rib, we got to learn to do a braid — it is brilliance, I say, just brilliance!!
    So worth the effort, and brain-stretching required.

  3. Those all make me want to knit mittens, even though I live in Virginia, where it is rarely cold enough to justify a good scarf, forget mittens!

  4. Ditto to Kim in VA’s comment, only head quite a few degrees south and you’ll see why mittens with actual fingers are not “the thing” here. Which is a darned shame from the knitting perspective… and from the wearing-the-fabulous-winter-knitting perspective. I shall admire from afar, rest assured, once the Frankenmitten is brought to life. (Why did I just imagine you yelling, “Igor, to the needles!” whilst rubbing your hands together madly?)

  5. Aha – just as a wise commenter posted the other day – you will come up with your own brilliant design. I have to agree with you about the thumbs on this style of mitten but on the more casual mittens, I prefer the side thumbs – they just feel more comfortable to me. But on this style of mitten, side thumbs always look too large in proportion to the hand portion & look like they are just stuck on without any thought to incorporating them into the overall design.

  6. Holy WOW!! That’s all I can say.
    Holy WOW…and I’ve never said that before. Looking forward to pics, although I hope we don’t need mittens anytime soon!

  7. Why did you have to link to the braid? Latvian Mittens book is now on its merry way to me from Amazon. Just for the braid……..well, and to satisfy the mitten obsession I seem to be starting.

  8. Brilliant!!! I spent way too much time reading your comments today and looking at all the suggestions. Gorgeous–every single one of them.

  9. All right, so now that you’re embarked on Frankenmitten I’m probably too late, but how do you feel about this:
    (It has a thumb now, and I wove in the ends. I suppose I should really take more photos.)
    (I have a thing about anatomically correct snowflakes, six-sided and all. Judging by the mitten patterns out there, this is a rare affliction, but I try to bear it bravely.)

  10. I feel your pain on the blog client switch. I’m in the midst of a switch myself and keeping geeky husband mighty busy interpreting the tutorials that are all greek to me.

  11. I have to delurk to tell you that Inga Snoflinga is Swedish for ‘no snowflakes’ and yes, I completely agree that it is fun to say!

  12. You go girl! W0ot! I am sure they will be beautiful in spite of the name, which frankly makes me think of Halloween-y things. Maybe a prettier name will suggest itself by the time you are through with them?

  13. I have a big secret about latvian braids! the standard directions have you purl with yarn in frot, then purl with yarn in back, then purl with yarn in front again. Here is a trick – if you work the braid in the flat it works perfectly. I know, you say you will reserve doing colorwork in the flat until the time you have a nice seat by the fire next to mephistopheles and have nothing more entertaining to do – but it works!! If you think about it, purling with the yarn in front is a just regular knit colorwork from the wrong side!Do this – knit the first row (WS), regular colorwork as XOXOXOXOX, then TURN the work and PURL the second row (RS) as OXOXOXOXOXO Then turn the work again and knit regular colorwork (WS) as XOXOXOXOX.

  14. This was my favorite also- so much so that I went out this weekend to my new favorite LYS and purchased a copy of Selbuvotter- I felt this was something I “needed”. Happy Knitting on those mittens!

  15. Nice wrap up on the best patterns recommended — great for future reference although I’m still in a bit of grief over my last pair of latvianmittens (which incidentally were also my first) so it will have to get a little chillier to lure me back to knitting them.

  16. Geez, way to shake us up. When I got to the bit about thumb placement, I had to put down my coffee and consider the possibility that although your ideas about thumb placement are very sound, you might have some heretical notion about thumb gussets (clearly a vastly superior construction).
    However, on mature reflection, I had to admit that I’d forgive such an excellent writer (who has incited the construction of such a charming and enthralling list of mitten patterns) just about anything. Though I still hope you are pro-gusset. 🙂
    Now I need to go take several deep breaths and remember that charming though those patterns are, I don’t actually need to cast them all on immediately, or even any of them, since I’ve got a perfectly charming sweater to work on at home. I’m also hampered by being at work with no yarn except a sock in progress. *mops brow, and resolutely resists urge to google for yarn stores in the city where I’m working*

  17. You’ve caused me to add 6 mitten patterns to my ravelry queue and a book to my amazon wishlist.
    I’m also reconsidering the time I’ve recently been spending on sweaters and dreaming about the farm wool I purchased this past February.
    Such influence you have…

  18. I love to read about your thought process in deciding what or what not to knit. I wonder though, while my own process seems endlessly entertaining to me, why does my hubby tend to doze whilst I’m re-telling it to him?
    And a question if you don’t mind – do you find stranded mittens at all “catchy” on jewelry? Or do you just not wear much in the winter.

  19. Perfect solution. Absolutely perfect! I can’t wait to see the mitts in all their Franken-glory!

  20. I too have been in smitten with mittens this yr. Sue calls me the knitting mitten machine. I have about 5 1/2 pair done adn I want to knit at least 4 more. (well 100 more but I need to know when to stop the crazy and come back to it later) I love your idea and I think it is a great idea. I just got the republished starmore and perhasp I might go have myself a little love affair and create some mittens myself.

  21. What a great list of excellent mitten patterns.
    I have a pair of Selbuvotter mittens that I started last summer but never finished (they did not seem to be the right July project for some reason). Now I want to dig them out and finish them. Thanks for the motivation.
    Of course, first I have to finish the Moderne Log Cabin blanket that you got me going on from some of your earlier posts……

  22. That reminds me I need to put my Norwegian mittens on Ravelry! The most fun part of the one Latvian mitten I have knit is the braid.

  23. I’ve just got to agree–I love the braid. I discovered it in Nancy Bush’s Folk Socks, but adapted it to mittens, because it is beautifully, fabulously perfect for mittens. Happy knitting!

  24. …and such a perfect braid!
    I just knew it. I knew that you had to bring all the best together and create something uniquely you. I love to watch your creativity.
    How ever do you read every blog response? You are amazing! But it does pay off, doesn’t it.

  25. Ha! I love it. What I love is that I got mention in your blog and so my cousin in Alaska (hi Allison!) will write on my facebook wall that she saw me on Yarnharlot. You’ve nearly doubled our rate of familial communication lately. It might seem odd, but ours is a family in which I walked into the living room – during a Christmas party – to find 6 male family members staring quietly into the center of the room. (I walked back out without comment) We need all the help we can get.

  26. I so wish that we had longer winters here…or even winters with snow – I would love to make all of those mittens….

  27. What a lovely collection…and the pair you chose–my jaw hit the floor. Those are stunning and exactly what I would have pictured you wanting.
    Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Now I want to abandon all my other KIPs and grab two colors of fingering and knit mittens too…..

  28. My ravelry queue just had a small panic attack from all the patterns that were just added. You are the best enabler out there.

  29. Wonderful! I can’t wait to see what evolves from this plan.
    As to thumbs, I believe that the side thumbs are sore thumbs gussets, hence “sticking out like a sore thumb”. More weight for your side of the great thumb placement debate.

  30. What’s in February?
    Your quest for the perfect mitten, ending in your decision to just pull the elements you like from other mittens reminds me of the Witch of the Waste and her search for the perfect man in Howl’s Moving Castle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howl's_Moving_Castle book more than movie) which is really not a mean thing to say. It’s more of how when we’re not happy with what we find, we make what we’ll be happy with.

  31. One more thing: how lame am I that hours after reading this, I just now got your reference in the title. “Oh Captain, my Captain”, right? Wow, I’m so having a Monday.

  32. Really if you think about it, you can have lots of franken-things – I’m in the process of knitting a frankensweater and I know someone who regularly knits franken-bears (they dont however, look like frankenstein).
    I’m on the hunt for a really good blogging client too, I’m currently trying windows live writer – it has lots of plugins that do “stuff” but I’m not sure I’ll ever actually do anything with them! Good luck with that anyway 🙂

  33. Really? Oh Captain, My Captain? I thought it was from Oh Michigan, My Michigan, the state song of Michigan, which as we all know, is shaped like a mitten.

  34. Thank you for the link to all these nice mittens. It’s one of my favorite kind of knitting to look at online since I have sportweight yarn in different colors just begging to be knit into these nice mittens.
    You are such a different knitter from me, the thumb thing is just one of many (although I don’t really care where the thumb is placed). I’ve made gloves where the thumb stuck out from the side and it´s very comfortable.
    Just think about everything that defines you as a knitter and I will be the opposite. I´m a product knitter, I like dishcloths, etc. But I still love reading your blog because your are funny and it is nice to have your (that is ´mine´) horizon widened once in a while.

  35. So many beautiful mittens! But yes, *this* is where being a handknitter with courage has its greatest benefit — when you can chop things up and take their bitty bits and turn them into exactly what you want. Knit surgery, without the bandages 😉

  36. Go Frankenmitten! I think it will be great.
    As for me, I want to run away and start knitting the Deep in the Woods mittens right this very second… or right after I consider color choices at least.

  37. Ah, Stephanie, I’m so disappointed in you….while I admit to loving the charm of a thumb out of a palm, that is virtually invisible (like in Magnificent Mittens), that charm cannot compete with the anatomical comfort of a thumb sticking out to the side. And here I thought you, Stephanie The Braless wearer of Birkenstocks put function over form 😉
    There. I hope that met with your approval, since you challenged us to hate you over mitten placement preference 😉

  38. Frankenmitten. Brilliance from Schizospider. I’m thinking that a Frankenmitten will be perfect when you lift a (franken)Stein to ward off the chill of winter.

  39. Well, after that post, and the display of linked loveliness, I predict a sudden outbreak of Mitten Flu courtesy of the Yarn Harlot. Yes, knitters everywhere will be calling in sick so they can a) learn to knit mittens, b) try a new mitten technique and/or c) finally evolve into their very own Frankenmitten creators. Personally? I’ll be starting with step A of that scenario. Got mittens?

  40. Well, you’ve done it again. I had no interest, ever, in making mittens, until you linked to the anemoi mittens. It’s the second time this has happened — I was never going to make socks. I loved ‘that Laurie’s’ sock yarn and in that post, you linked to toe-up sock and short-row heel tutorials, and yep, I’m making socks now.
    But thank you for showing us all those fun things that I really will never do — the Vintage socks! I still get a chuckle out of those posts. All the little leaves…. And thanks for telling of spinning, because I “sort of” wanted to do that and now know I’d really rather just knit. You explained “yolking”, the lanolin & sheep sweat thing, but the yellowing could also have been “canary stain”, what is that?

  41. Stephanie, here is something that you as a Canadian must explain to me, a Californian. How useful are mittens when they keep your hands warm but prevent you from using your fingers? When my hands get cold in winter (yes, even in Calif, because I have chilly skinny digits) I have to wear gloves with leather on the palms and undersides of the fingers so that I can drive or, for that matter, handle a dog’s leash or a doorknob. The leather is needed for traction, of course. However, I have long been tempted to make the Matrioshka convertible mitt/gloves from a back issue of Knitty: that’s a little face of each fingertip of the gloves, with the mama doll as an attached overmitt that can cover the fingers for more warmth or be flipped away to free the fingers for action. But I’d still need the leather for traction. . . what to do?
    — Gretchen (not the same one who commented earlier)

  42. Excellent! Frankly, in the Annemor patterns, once you get past the main motif, many of them are….um…..”open to interpretation.” Meaning, you’re just as likely to make something awesome using the main motif as if you attempted to follow the instructions and had to juryrig a pattern together anyway.

  43. “yarn…I must find yarn for my master…”
    “Igor, what have I created?! They have TWO LEFT THUMBS!”
    stop me, or else that analogy will just go on entirely too long.

  44. Rubiyat you are mine. I even have yarn left over from the colors I tried out for the Wearable Art stockings. BTW, will we ever see pictures of the sock museum?

  45. I might need to make Inga-Snoflinga just so I can say the name over and over! But I really, really love that cuff on the Amaryllis mittens…

  46. i live in florida i have watched the
    christmas boat parade on the manatee river
    and been so cold earmuffs mittens blankets
    i would like my mittens with yellow thumbs
    and purple backs and red underneath
    with these words do you know where the is
    on the backs

  47. Hey Stephanie
    I just read on your tweet that you are coming to Sacramento.
    I live in a beautiful Gothic revival Victorian a few miles out side Sac. (not bragging….just enticing). Dump a bucket of black paint on it and the Addams family could move right in.
    Want to come and spend the night ? I have spinning wheels. I have sock yarn. I have coffee, beer and chocolate.
    Just saying.
    Posted by: ania at September

  48. It’s probably a little bit sad that I’m really excited that you picked the pattern I posted in the comments. But it’s still cool

  49. I’m sure you’ll come up with something beautiful, but please remember one thing–
    You need one left and one right mitten.

  50. You have quite a fantastic direct line into the knitting hive mind. I found some great stuff surfing your comments yesterday. Do that more, would you? (Like I need more ideas of things to knit in my copious spare time.)

  51. you could knit egyptian mittens retooling the thumb gussetto come out of the palm rather than the side stitch (it should match the rubaiyat mitten chart closely enough to make that easy)
    i’ve made the rubaiyat mittens and am working on the egyptian and they are both great designs!

  52. Unfortunately not all Canadians need mittens. *sigh* I live on the West coast and it’s pretty mild here in the lower mainland. Even on the coldest days it’s rare to need anything more than a driving glove….and that’s because the steering wheel is cold. I’d love to have a good reason to be knitting all those beautiful mittens. Enjoy yourself with your Frankenmittens.

  53. Nothing to do with mittens, but you said you read all comments and this will make you smile. My sister manages the Blue Heron bookstore in Uxbridge . Sometime ago you were booked to come to the store after a new book came out. She brings in lots of Canadian authors. Anyway , she was doing the pre- publicity and put an ad in the local paper and the whole town esp my dear sister were fascinated to read that the town harlot was going to be visiting the Blue Heron the following week. All were greatly disappointed when the visit had to be cancelled because the harlot got overbooked and couldn’t make it after all.
    She is not a knitter, but I am and got a huge laugh out of this and thought you might ,too.

  54. I am thinking of the perfect mitten for you! when I first learned to knit, there was a Trinidad nurse supervisor who used to make the most beautiful snowflake (blue & white) mittens I’ve ever seen. You know…. the rounded tip, perfectly placed thumb, blue with fair-isle edge and centered snowflake pattern you’ve ever seen type of pattern? I will try to find her in the hospital and town I used to work in to ask for her pattern. I’m pretty sure it’s what your looking for (although you’d have to change her ribbed cuff to your beautiful braid one). I’ve searched the internet for it without success.

  55. Wow, that glove pattern is much more stunning as a mitten. If you finish these, be careful as there are a lot of people who will happily snatch them away from you .

  56. Just read your “thought for the day” in your Page-A-Day calendar regarding the “not-long-enough-tail-cast-on” and here’s what I was taught: fold the prospective tail in half. Place a slipknot. If you reach the knot before you’ve knit half the stitches, you ain’t gonna make it. Saves going all the way to the end to find out! Have fun with your mittens.

  57. I did a similar thing turning a Selbuvotter glove into a mitten… It’s super easy, and since I love so many of the motifs on the gloves but have very little desire to actually knit a glove, this is very useful information.

  58. Oh Thank YOU Steph!! I’ve been searching out mittens for myself lately and had seen several of those you pointed out as possibles for yourself but, like yourself, nothing was perfect. Thanks to your pointing out one I *hadn’t* seen, I’ve found it! The Purple Selbuvotter (based on the Annemor #15) is perfect perfect wonderful! That is *the one*. Now to find the perfect colour combination and chart out how I want the hat to be. I may be forced to make a neck-warmer/cowl/something, too…

  59. I knew Selbuvotter would be the resource but didn’t have the amazingness of Schizospider (may her webs block out to magnificence!). Well done!

  60. I love the little braids, I have never done one, but I’m dying to try it. I wonder if it will make my teeth itch….

  61. I never knew there were so many mitten options. I fell in love with the Deep in the Forest pair until I saw Amaryllis in the next post. Oh my. I may print off the whole blog post today and sleep wth it under my pillow, along with all the photos of the mittens I love. I’d feel better just by being closer to them all. Lovely, Lovely!

  62. I loved seeing the different mittens that you considered. Had I sent a comment yesterday I would have said “make enough of a swatch to measure your gauge over a couple of inches and then make your own pattern”. So glad that you are sort of headed down that road. But the best part of this post was the link back about the braid! I have had a some really crappy days lately and you made me laugh out loud. Repeatedly. And then, in the comments I noticed Posted by: KatyaR at September 14, 2009 10:09 PM. And laughed even harder. I had forgotten about your mitten mishap of the past. Thank you and thank you also to KatyaR. I will be laughing about mittens for the rest of today. Oh, and good luck with the braid thingee you’re a braver woman than I.

  63. Jiminy Christmas. Now I feel *COMPELLED* to purchase the mitten book and save ALL the linked recipes. They are just SO. DANG. PURTY.
    However, living in L.A., I probably have no use for them. Thanks for giving me a whole ‘nuther obsession…

  64. Silly question, but living in CA, mittens aren’t
    as important as a good pair of shorts–why do you prefer mittens over gloves?

  65. You killed my yarn diet.
    The Amaryllis Mitten kit in the magenta colorway will be here soon.
    Sob. Although, I am so excited about making them!

  66. Wow. Wow. I live in Arizona but I think I need some mittens STAT. (Right after Cookie’s new socks are done)

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