Remember when knitters used to blog their works in progress? I kind of miss that. So here’s a good old-fashioned snapshot of what’s on my needles right now. These are a modification of Katya Frankel’s Side by Side Mitts — my third go at this pattern, which tells you that it really ticks my boxes. This time I added length to the cuff, working ten repetitions of the wee cable motif before the thumb gusset. And I decided to pretty up the finger end with an eyelet row sandwiched into the garter and a picot bind-off. I realized afterward that this makes sort of a frankenpattern of Side by Side and the popular Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts. I think it’s quite a successful monster, anyway! I’ll call them Bookend Mitts… at least until I devise an original mitt with similar qualities for publication and steal that name from myself. I’m using the scrummy Swan’s Island Merino, their worsted weight (it’s light enough to sub for the DK this pattern requires), in the Sky Blue color. It’s dyed with indigo, so it does turn your fingers blue when you’re knitting, but I don’t mind. It’s butter soft and I love it to bits. I wish these were for me, but they’re not. I’m sending them to a friend who used to be the librarian at my school but is now teaching Beowulf and other great English literature to some very lucky high schoolers. She used to be in charge of directing carpool for 190 elementary schoolers, out there in the circular driveway in all weather with her red megaphone and uncanny memory for ever-shifting constellations of kids and drivers and vehicles. I used to lend her the wooly mittens I always kept in my backpack. I thought about giving them to her in remembrance when she left us last June, but then I thought she might well be reveling in having shed that particular aspect of her job and would therefore appreciate something a little more refined for indoor use. Miss you, Maureen!
Side by Side mitts
More Side-by-side mitts! These were finished ages ago… looking back, I see they were already done when I posted about the first pair I made. It just took me two months to put them on my husband so I could feed the blog a few photos. I’m glad to say I didn’t delay as long after that in putting them in the mail. Merry Christmas, Dad! My husband still covets these, though he did recently find one of the missing gloves I made him in 2009. (I was reminded how much I liked those gloves. They really came out well. I hate knitting fingers, even if they’re only an inch long. But I do love my man. And that heathered Rauma Finullgarn was delish.) So now he’s on probation to see how long he can go without losing a glove again. I haven’t decided how many months or years he has to hold on to the pair he’s got to convince me it’s worth my replacing them when one does eventually escape into the wild. But now that I know I can bust out a pair of Side-by-sides in a pair of evenings, I’m more likely to be lenient.
Thank you all for your heartening responses to “Winter Words”—it’s lovely to “meet” some new readers and to hear from some who’ve been here all along! The opportunity to collaborate with Brooklyn Tweed was so unexpected and so energizing—definitely one of my greatest gifts this season.
Of course there was a flow of knitted gifts in and out of my household as well. After the effort of Winter Garden, which really consumed most of the time I’d have otherwise given to Christmas presents, it was a pleasure to turn to someone else’s quick and easy pattern and toss off a few last-minute holiday projects. Katya Frankel’s Side by Side mitts were the perfect car knitting as we traveled north to visit my family. I began one the night before we left in Quince & Co.’s Owl (DK wool/alpaca, wonderfully rustic), the gorgeous Cranberry color. But I had cast on the medium and it was coming out too large for my own hands. I tried it on my husband: sure enough, perfect man size. So I quickly began another in the small, as I needed a gift for a photographer friend who’s been very generous in taking pictures of my family and never accepts payment. By the time we reached Anacortes I had two mitts of different sizes and colors, but I was exceedingly glad to don them, ends still a-dangling, when we faced a two-hour wait for the next ferry and the dog needed a chance to run on the beach. It was about forty degrees and lightly sprinkling and my own gloves were somewhere in the roof box. (I’m still wearing the Koolhaas gauntlets I adapted years ago from Jared Flood’s 2007 hat pattern.) Mr. G read books and let the children push all the buttons on the dashboard while Lark and I scrambled down to the waterline.
The tide was in, I was glad to see. Lark is a compulsive wave chaser and will keep sprinting to and fro at ankle depth even after the shell fragments and barnacled rocks of our shingle beaches have shredded her paws, so she’s much better off if the water’s edge is up near the softer sand where the grasses begin. There were only a few dog people out on this winter day. A Portuguese water dog attempted to keep up for a little while; a Bernese mountain dog was too wise to spend his energy in the chase and snuffled my pockets hopefully instead. Cormorants dipped in and out of the shallows, gulls jostled and gossiped on the old cannery pilings, and a flock of some small sea ducks beat in to land in formation up the curve of the bay. Lark shuttled back and forth at roughly the speed of sound and I walked the length of the sand until the footing got too squelchy for my sneakers. My mismatched gloves did their work and fended off total numbness. And meanwhile, my snack stash did its work and carried the children through the pre-dinner hours in good spirits. Two hours is a long time to wait in the car when you’ve already spent five hours there, so we staged a dance party to Bruce Springsteen’s greatest hits in the passenger seat for a while.
A couple of days later I’d completed a mate for Kathy’s glove, the kids were occupied with the spoils of Christmas, and the outdoors were briefly inviting enough for some quick photos.
This pleasant, tweedy, mouse color is called Papuan. (And that vest dates from 2009, subject of the annual Christmas exchange with Katrin! Three cheers for Shetland wool, and three more for skillful friends.) I finished my father’s pair back home in Portland, since I’d run out of the Cranberry, and I suspect there are more of these mitts in my future. I’d quite like some myself, and my husband was disappointed to learn my dad’s set wasn’t for him. (He did get fingerless gloves for Christmas, machine knit by my friend Laurie, so I don’t know what he’s complaining about. Plus he’s lost one each of the two pairs I’ve made him.)
I have not yet completed my half of this year’s Christmas exchange, I hang my head to say. I’m already in possession of a beautiful Bonny top in Swans Island silk/merino laceweight; it fits me perfectly and looks terrific. But I am still creeping through the lace panel on Katrin’s. So I hope she’ll forgive me and accept a Lunar New Year gift this year. Here’s the good news: dear Mr. G has just come up with my Christmas present. It’s a SUPERDRIVE. It sounds like it ought to take me through the worm hole at warp speed. What it actually does is… wait for it… play DVDs. My husband thinks it’s quaint of me to care that my new laptop doesn’t have an aperture for anything greater in diameter than a quarter. But I am not ready to live in the cloud full time. I have been pining for the box of movies that’s sadly relegated to the basement, and I cannot bring myself to pay money to stream something online that I already own. Twice, if you’re talking about my new plans for this evening, because it was remastered a few years ago. That’s right. You know who’s going to get me through this lace panel? Mr. Darcy and Lizzy, that’s who. SUPERDRIVE!