Hedgehog Knits

Adventures in knitting from the eastern edge of Canada.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Mitts and Books

Those of you who have been reading for a while might remember my plans last year to research and document the traditional Newfoundland finger mitt. Well, I've been working on it slowly. I spent a wonderful day buried in historical newspapers and magazines at the Centre for Newfoundland studies at Memorial University when I was home at Christmas. I found very little in the way of written patterns, and those that do exist are very informal. One small-town newspaper printed a pattern in the 1970's, but forgot to print the chart for the pattern part of the mitt. The next issue ran the correction, and a cute little letter from the lady who submitted the pattern, correcting the mistake, because of course you couldn't expect the men who ran newspapers to know anything about knitting!

One book that I have found very helpful is this one:

Robin Hansen has collected a bunch of mitten patterns from eastern Canada and Maine. The mittens I have been looking for are in here, but they're still not exactly the same pattern knit in the area where I grew up. The book does have a lot of great tips on techniques for stranded mittens though, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who's interested in really warm wooly mittens.

So using the references I've collected, and deconstructing several mittens knit by others, I have started putting togehter a pattern. Here's my first pair:

Traditional Newfoundland Mittens, in Briggs and Little Heritage (blue) and Briggs and Little Tuffy (white). Knit on 3.75 mm dpns. (Shown prior to blocking)

These aren't actually finger mitts, but regular mitts. I thought I'd try to learn the technique in its simplest form to start. Here's what the palm looks like:

Figuring out the thumb gore was interesting, but I finally got the increases to work and the dark stripe to stay where I wanted it. They got progressively better as I worked through them. There are a lot of things to think about, especially preventing ladders in the middle of the palm, always keeping the darker colour "ahead", and keeping the tension even. These are really tightly knit, for a very dense fabric. I started out making them for me, but the gauge was all wrong, so they turned out husband-sized. (Which is fine and makes a husband very happy.) I am going to experiment some more with finer yarn and different decrease methods at the top, and eventually write a formal pattern.

And while I'm talking about books, I spent some gift cards this week that were burning a hole in my pocket:

I want one of these.

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Blogger sienna said...

Hi Kelly, Thanks for stopping by my blog! You've made some beautiful things in the last few months; wow. I'm definitely planning to get that Victorian Lace book sometime in the future too. I just have to get through some of my current WIPs before I tempt myself with anything else. Ciao!

9:01 p.m.  
Blogger Marianne said...

No kidding! How beautiful!
I've been hearing/reading a lot about the mittens book, looks to be a very good one, is that the old version...or the new one? I've been reading Norma's blog about it, she has a copy of the old one and loves it.
Looking forward to seeing the lace!

7:03 a.m.  
Anonymous Leanne said...

Very nice mitts! I haven't yet bought the Victorian Lace book - but I plan to. I leafed through a copy and it looks wonderful.

9:39 a.m.  
Blogger Kelly said...

Marianne, this is the new book, which combines two older out-of-of print books. I looked at the older ones, and I think the format is much improved and easier to follow in the new one. It's a great reference.

11:40 a.m.  
Anonymous Just Susan said...

Hi Kelly,
A comment back a ways in your blog said Wooltrends had a trigger mitt pattern. Did you ever look there, knowing you are living in St. John's? Thanks.

1:25 p.m.  

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