Testing and geeking or just being weird and struck by madness?

Testing. Testing. Testing. Testing. Testing. Testing.

Yup. I finished the deadline for today and I am not allowed to knit more than that says the doctor lady. Actually she said no knitting at all but hey, 14 rounds a day is hardly knitting! Right? ;P

So does that mean that The Mitten Project lyes dormant until the next day? NO! I really want to collect some the pattern elements I discover during this year. To make clear not to copy the patterns I buy but many of the traditional mittens have amazing elements that can be used for further design and inspiration. I would love to collect those in a sketchbook. So why am I babeling about this? In what way do I use my evening on that? Well here it is: I am testing methods for drawing charts. It needs to be fast, pleasant to the hand and show the pattern clearly.

This is something I have been dreaming of doing for a while so awesome it is. But I also found out that it was common for the young girls to do pattern books of their own. I have seen a few pictures of these books and seen a couple of different methods. Now I’m testing them!

I have tested four pens. A simple 0.4 pen with a hard and round, a SignPen with a soft and rounded head, a PITT pen (b) with a brush head and a 3.0mm calligraphy pen. I tested 6 different ways of drawing.

What is clear to me is that the symbol needs to be clear on the page. The smaller ones are too vague.

  1. Column: The normal (for me) to draw charts for color work. One might call it the cross stitch symbol. This a little comprehensive but as I’m used to doing it doesn’t seem as bad as such. It is however a lot of work for my wrists. I prefer SignPen the most in this.
  2. Column: The dot. Simple. Easy. Looks very frail and somewhat hard to read on the page compared to the other methods. I am not choosing a favorite in this as I can’t see it working for me.
  3. Column: The circle. This symbol is very easy to do and is definitely the symbol that needs the least work compared to how visible it is on the page. It works best with a fuller pen. SignPen or Pitt brush pen is best here.
  4. Column: Small cross stitches. These are actually easier to make than the full cross stitch as they need less movement of the hand. They are also funner to do hehe. It’s however a little more work than the circle.
  5. Column: The square filled completely. This is a very nice and clear way of showing a pattern. It is however quite a lot of work. It was definitely easiest to do with the calligraphy pen. I consider if I could find two or three colors of this pen then I could mark the contrast colors.
  6. Column: Large dot/filled circle. This is a bit too much work for me. It’s more work than the circle as I did the circle and then filled it in. So this is out of the picture.

Now I’m also considering trying out the circles and dots on millimeter paper. It could make it easier to get a full mitten on one sheet of paper however it’s a bit difficult to find a sketch book with it and not just a pad.

There is so many very very big decisions as you can hear! …..I am such a weird geek! I am thrilled about this kind of work and I feel so odd because of it. Oh well. I am amused and happy, but mad, I’m sure.

Mittenz with a set

While waiting for the sunlight to come out, so I can take a good picture of the finished Owl in Tree mitten, I give you Mittenz:

I wrote in the Either Or post a little tip about doing an simple and easy project alongside a very complicated one. Well Mittenz was my easy project. I often do this when I’m working with something complicated as I have moments I just need to knit – not think. These were in the poll alongside Either Or Mittens for the first round of Technical Time. They didn’t win or come close, but I had to try them out!

Mittenz. Pattern by Mariella Apadaco. Knit by Anne Grove.

The pattern is made by Mariella Apodaca and is available for free on her blog here. I love the pattern as it’s a mitten done a 100% in stockinette stitch AND it’s knit flat. This means it’s a nice project for the beginner and an easy one for an experienced, however not too boring for you to loose your interest. I’m quite into those where everybody can be in. The pattern is sized for child or small woman but can easily be accommodated for bigger sizes.

This mitten differs from traditionally knit mittens as it’s not only knit flat it’s also knit sideways. You use increase and decrease to shape thumb and fingertip and knit in garter stitch which makes the mitten have a ribbing effect and gives it a snug fit around the hand. So don’t be alarmed if you think it looks ‘skinny’ It’s intensional 😉

The Mittenz mitten not sewn together.

Her pattern is written out, row by row. Personally I prefer my patterns as short and cut to the bone so this is a bit too much for me. I normally write those patterns down in the abridged version, and this one didn’t take more space than an A5. Perfect for having in the bag with you on the go!

The material was Ragg-Strømpegarn from Hjerte Garn in variegated blues. A skein didn’t quite do it, so I have an almost full skein to use for something else. Any suggestions?

Mittenz

Notes and thoughts

1. When choosing your stitch markers (you need two) use two different from each other! I confused myself to begin with a lot because I had only one kind of stitch marker.
You are working flat so you are turning your work again and again and it’s easy to forget which marker is fingertip and which is thumb.

2. I found when sewing the mitten together it makes the nicest seam if you lie the work flat and sew it together rather than sow with back loop stitches.

Apodaca has more mittens knit sideways in a bit more complex version: Longway sideways mittens and Original sideways mittens. This, mittenz, is however the simplest version as you don’t have to make new stitches only cast off.

Either Or off the needles?

Either Or is not just the title of Februarys second mitten but also that of a very well known  philosophical work. Either Or was written by Soren Kierkegaard a Danish philosopher of great importance. It consist of two volumes Either and Or (Enten-Eller in Danish).
This book had a special place in my childhood home as my father is an academic in the field of religious philosophy, he works in particular with German philosopher Schleiermacher and with Kierkegaard.

Either Or Mitten. Pattern by Lee Meredith of leethalknits. Knit by Anne Grove.

Either Or Mitten. Pattern by Lee Meredith of leethalknits. Knit by Anne Grove.

The pattern is written by Lee Meridith of leethalknits. She makes wonderfully whimsy patterns that make great projects for homespun and art yarns. She is good at explaining the techniques used which is really great for this pattern. It looks very difficult but it is  simpler than that!

The pdf contains patterns for three different Either Or mittens. The short fingerless, the long fingerless and the mitten. This pattern is shaped around your hand as you knit, which means you need to size it on your hand. I am doing the long fingerless. As it was the pair that I fell in love with and it’s most versatile. Also very important it fits several sizes easier and as I have tiny hands I need not to fit them too much to my self.

Either Or mitten. Pattern and picture by Lee Meredith, of Leethalknits.

Either Or mitten. Pattern and picture by Lee Meredith, of Leethalknits.

This week has been a bit different from the other weeks. Which will also show in this blogpost. This pattern isn’t just ‘plug and play’ it’s a 28 pages long pdf. Which is pretty daunting! It is very well made and it’s great to look at but it is a bit confusing the first time you read it. I want to make it clear I can’t see how this pattern should be any shorter than the 28 pages. Just make sure to read it a couple of times before starting your project and have in mind that sometimes patterns doesn’t make sense before you just knit it.

One tip I can give is to follow the directions and don’t question them (I’m really good at that!) then it all makes sense. It’s a bit like knitting heels on socks for the first time. Don’t think, just do it.

This mitten differs from regular mittens as it’s knit from the thumb and out, working around the hand. When your work is large enough to fold around your hand you gather and work back and forth and “seem” the mitten up.
This technique confused me at first as it’s not until you get quite far down in the pattern you can see directions for sizes. I at least need directions for sizes as I have tiny hands and knitting for this project I need mittens not to be my size all of them as most of you wouldn’t be able to fit them afterwards.

On the test mitten I tried a little of it all. I did the stripes, I did the garter stitch wrist and I did the stockinette stitch wrist. I ought to knit another one so there is a pair, don't I?

On the test mitten I tried a little of it all. I did the stripes, I did the garter stitch wrist and I did the stockinette stitch wrist. I ought to knit another one so there is a pair, don’t I?

What I did was to knit a test mitten. To learn the pattern. To see how the different wrist/hand parts would look. I chose to knit the mitten in a soft store bought alpaca that already had a gauge guide on the wrapper to take that part out of this first calculation. Also I did the mitten in two different colors to test out that part of the pattern.

I originally thought I would do that with the final mitten as well but I changed my mind after I looked in my yarn stash. I wanted to use handspun yarn for this project as it’s in the spirit of Leethalknits but also because this patterns really can showcase the yarn.

I found an amazing wool blend. What it is I don’t know for sure as it didn’t have a label on it. Also I had to go look deep in the craftster logs to find out who made it. I got it in a swap a while back and it truely is amazing. I love earthy colors combined with turquoise. The woman behind this yarn is nicknamed Bugaboo1 – her real name is Stephanie Woolever (preeeetty perfect for a spinner if you ask me!).

The mittens are different from each other because of the handspun yarn. You can see differences from mitten to mitten as well as on the two sides of the mitten.

The mittens are different from each other because of the handspun yarn. You can see differences from mitten to mitten as well as on the two sides of the mitten.

WPI-method

WPI is short for wraps per inch. As simple as it is, you wrap your yarn around a ruler or a knitting needle and count how many wraps there is per inch. Use this method to help you determine what size needle you need for your handspun yarn (or a skein that lost its band).

For this pattern I would recommend not using a yarn that has super bulky parts as well as fingering parts. But using a yarn that varies is not a problem as you can see on the picture with the three types of mittens. Have in mind if you knit with varied thickness yarn that this might effect the row count for the thumb of this pattern.
Try to find an average, if the wraps per inch count is an uneven number use the highest number. That way you allow the thick yarn not to end up being knit too tight. What happens when your textile is knit very tight is that it get stiffer and can seem a little coarser.

This part a compilation of what you need for this pattern. To find chart and read more on the WPI-method see my post here.

The unblocked Either Or Mitten twists and turns a bit. The different knit directions and the change in stockinette and garter stitch makes it twist.

The unblocked Either Or Mitten twists and turns a bit. The different knit directions and the change in stockinette and garter stitch makes it twist.

I would recommend Meredith to try to revise her pattern. Not because it’s missing anything as such. But I think that a different way of organizing it could help immensely on the difficulty level. It seems completely impossible to get an overview to begin with and it was only when I had done the third mitten I could maneuver around in the 28 pages long pdf with confidence.

It would probably make an even longer pdf, but it would make a big difference if she had chosen to gather the pattern for respectively short fingerless, long fingerless and full mitten each in their segment. It is extremely confusing in an already confusing pattern to have to scroll back and forth (/jump from page to page – if printet). I think that such a change would render the pattern much more comprehendible and thus easier to use.

I do however like the last 6 pages that is made to print only the pattern without the pictures. However I needed the pictures to understand what she wrote on the first and a little in the second mitten. So I was dependent on the full pdf throughout most of this project.

Notes & thoughts

1. Do a test mitten! The first mitten takes AGES to do as you try to find your way through a lot of numbers and abbreviations. In danish we have a saying that directly translated is “to keep your tong straight in your mouth” (At holde tungen lige i munden). You need to focus a lot to understand this – the first time.
Already when you knit the first mitten of the pair (the second, counting the tester) you will find that it’s much much easier. And the third – well that’s just like any other easy to regular difficulty leveled pattern.

2. Thumb: You count how many rows you knit for the thumb and you write it down, according to the guide. But have in mind if you are knitting in a homespun yarn that varies a lot that this count might not be the same.

Notes for Either Or Mitten

3. I would recommend doing notes when knitting this pattern. It helped me a lot. Just a little pad to note down on next to your pattern. If you print the pattern you have boxes to put on little counts but I like to have them on one page compared to a minimum of 4-6 pages of the pattern. Personally I prefer to have it all on one pad so I have all the notes on one page.

4. Use different colored or sized markers! All 7 of them – otherwise it can get really difficult to follow the pattern. I used:
mA blue, big  (beginning of round)
mB1 white
mB2 red
mC1 purple
mC2 light red, big
mD1 blue, small
mD2 light red, small
It was a huge help to me that I noted down what markers had which colors. Working with 7 markers I needed to be able to color code them to make sure I didn’t loose my way during the pattern.

5. If you are doing a mitten for someone else (= a different handsize than yourself) go to page 12 to read what to do. If you follow the pattern slavish don’t think about this, but if you like me like to know a little about sizing before you start, you will find the information on page 12, last section.

A little tip: When you are doing a project that is very complicated have a super easy project to work on as well. Sometimes you just need to knit. Sometimes you need to see progress and that can be hard to see in a project that is very intricate and needs a lot of focus on the technical side. This helps me keep up the spirit and joy of knitting while attempting new challenges.
Edit: For this project I did the Mittenz by Mariella Apodaca.

Despite all the hardship I would enjoy to make more of these mittens. It’s a joy to knit when you get the hang of it and it’s a perfect project to showcase amazing yarns! And who doesn’t need a good excuse to buy amazing yarn – now that you have a pattern to use it with? 😉

Either Or Mitten

An exclamation of mittens

IMG_0619 copyI visited the local art museum AROS with a friend the other day and outside we found an exclamation mark of mittens. Wether it’s an ‘i’ or and ‘!’ we couldn’t really figure out as there was no explanation just a very large amount of mittens on the ground.

I snapped a picture of some of the few knitted ones. Some are machine knit other are hand knit, no matter they are adorable all of them. There was one, a red one, that stood out in particular. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a good picture of it. Boohoo! The light was tricky as it was cloudy and the sun was almost gone. Oh well. I’m gonna include it anyways as you can get an idea of what it looked like. I have an idea that these mittens were lost around the city during the cold months of Denmark but I am not sure. It will be a question mark of mittens for now.

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Owlyness

The owls is gonna be on the hands and in the trees! I am quite surprised that this mitten won. Maybe it’s just me that has an odd liking of mittens with owl features more? Hehe non the less these are sweet and figurative. I’m looking forward to trying the braid part!

I’m not quite sure about the color. I like the green and white together but I’m not sure I can find a yarn that has the right green color. I’m gonna look into if Gotlandsk Pelsuld from Filcolana could be used. They have quite a few nice green shades.

Owls In a Tree

I just need to take pictures of the Either Or, which will happen tomorrow hopefully. The weather is crazy! It’s snowing and it’s oddly gray out side. What’s up with that!? It’s supposed to be spring soon. I hope the weather gets better so I can take some nice pictures of them^^

The two hearts together

I got the mitten blocked again and is lays a little better now. Yay for blocking! And now you can get a picture of the two mittens together! Also a picture that depicts the color better.

These mittens are beautiful and if you are looking for a “hearty” project: go for it! The pdf is a joy to work with. The graphics underline the chart pattern of the hearts and it’s written in a language that’s easy to understand.

Jolnir Mitten. Pattern by Emmy Petersson, knit by Anne Grove.

Jolnir Mitten. Pattern by Emmy Petersson, knit by Anne Grove.

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To read about the process and notes & thought go here and here.

Jolnir is made by Emmy Petersson and published in Woolbox Designs. You can find it here on Ravelry. The pattern comes in both Swedish and English versions. You can find Woolbox Design here. Emmy Petersson has 6 amazing color knit patterns, four of these are mittens! All in very traditional scandinavian in style yet they are quite modern they are a joy to look at.

Jolnir is off the needles

Just in time for St. Valentines day I give you the finished Jolnir Hearts!

Jolnir Mitten. Pattern: Emmy Petersson, knit by: Anne Grove

I need to block this one a little more before I’m all done. It’s still a little bulky in the big hearts as you can see. I hope it’s okay 😉 I was in a bit of a hurry as I had to give the borrowed camera back today, which is also why you don’t get a picture of the two Jolnir Mittens together. I am sorry but it will come, don’t worry.

This has been both a wonderful project as well a problematic. The project it self has been great. The pattern is sweet and fun to do but I have had problems with neck pains, which have affected how tightly I knit. You might be able to see it on the mittens where passages seem tighter than other parts. I can actually see what days I was in pain on the gauge. I didn’t really realize this until I finished off the second mitten. More likely I hadn’t really given it any though because I do have a tendency to knit quite tight.

Jolnir Mitten: palm

Jolnir Mitten: palm

You can read my first post on Jolnir here.
Jolnir Mitten Pattern is made by Emmy Petersson. You can find it here on Ravelry.