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Brewer Burns

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Latvian Mitten is Dead. Long Live the Latvian Mitten!

On Saturday morning I made a horrific discovery. No. Scratch that. On Saturday morning I finally admitted to myself what I already knew was true: the Latvian Mitten was way too small. We’re talking very-small-child-sized. I couldn’t get may hand through it. So I ripped it. And you know what? It was a really good thing that I did. Not only had I made my mitten way too small, I had also willfully ignored a warning given by the author about the charts: THEY ONLY SHOW THE BACK OF THE HAND. In other words, the charts don’t necessarily show the whole chart. Likely, they show some portion of the complete chart. That means that it’s your job, as the knitter, to look at the chart, look at the picture of the mitten, and then extrapolate the rest of the chart. Unless you like your mittens to look jack-assed. Another interesting point: the CHARTS show the back of the hand, the PICTURES, show the palm of the hand. So you can see how the mitten should look throughout.

In order to make my mitten both: fit me, and not look jack-assed, I did two things. First, I cast on a third more stitches. That’s 75 stitches total. Then I worked through the braided cuff and a few more rows to bring me up to the first bit of colorwork. Then I sat down and charted out both the cuff pattern and the (main) hand pattern. Which brought me another surprise. You see, I cast on in multiples of 25 because that’s how many stitches were in the chart. However, the completed chart for the cuff pattern was actually 34 stitches wide, and the complete pattern for the hand chart was 36 stitches wide. This means that I had enough stitches to complete the cuff pattern twice, plus seven extra stitches, and the hand pattern twice, plus three extra stitches. Being the brilliant knitter that I am (hah!) it occurred to me at this point that: since I realized that the chart didn’t show the whole pattern, I was a even more of a jackass for not charting out the full pattern before I cast on again, and: I could just decrease three stitches. That’s what I did. Over one of the plain rows before the cuff pattern began I decreased three stitches. This left a few extra stitches on the cuff pattern, but would leave no extra stitches on the hand pattern. (Insert picture of me grinning like an idiot.)

Here’s the thing that I’m really excited about. First, I’ve been working the colorwork in this pattern using the two-handed method. Normally I knit continental. To me, this means that I hold the yarn in my left hand as I knit and I “pick” the yarn for the new stitch with my working needle rather than “wrapping”it around the needle using my hand. I knit this way because I came to knitting from crochet, and when my grandmother taught me how to crochet she taught me to hold the yarn in my left hand. Well, I’ve figured out that if I hold the background color in my left hand (black) and the other, variable contrasting color in my right hand, I can knit two handed. This is how I do it: with my left hand I knit as I always do, picking, but with my right hand, I wrap. This also means that my yarns do not become tangled around each other because the yarn in my left hand always comes under the contrasting yarn, and the yarn in my right hand always comes over the main yarn. This has done a lot to keep me from poking my own eyes out with my dpn’s.

After I ripped my mitten and started anew I also broke out my SNB book and looked up the section on fair isle. In that section I noticed that it gives directions on how to “weave in” your yarn as you go, so as to avoid really long floats in your work. And? The best part? This method will also prevent your yarn from tangling on itself when you do it.

At this point, I’ve knit through the cuff pattern, a portion of the hand pattern, and have just added the thumb-hole. I will post pics tonight of the new, improved Latvian Mitten.


At 5:15 PM, Blogger Glaistig said...

"Unless you like your mittens to look jack-assed. " Hee, hee. Stand in line behind me for making jack-assed stuff.

I think knitting 2 handed is addictive. Doesn't it feel incredible?! It's even more rhythmic than reg. knitting because of the weaving. I learned from the SnB book too and thought the instructions were pretty good.

Go Team Latvia!!


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