An afterthought

It’s funny about mittens. They need thumbs. I am trying a new knitting technique, twined knitting, which creates a dense, thick, elastic fabric. So far I have used it with colorwork and haven’t explored all the textures you can create with it – yet.

I was so wrapped up in my twining and twisting and untwisting, I forgot to include a thumb in the second mitten.

I didn’t want to rip back and decided to insert an “afterthought” thumb so I searched for the technique on the Internet.

Almost all the results weren’t an afterthought at all. They required you to knit waste/scrap yarn as a placeholder where you wanted the thumb when you passed by the thumb the first time. There was my problem, I never thought about it the first time as I merrily knit and twined past the where it should have been.

I used the same technique, but instead of ripping out waste yarn, I placed the row above and below on needles and carefully snipped, from the center, the thumb stitches in between.


My main concern was the cut ends might be too short to weave in.

They were short, but not too short and I used a crochet hook to hide them. I can’t tell the difference.

Now they are drying by the fireplace before being sent off to a new bird lover’s home.


Seeking warmth

With cold weather, I want the warmest mittens. Scandinavian countries and other northern regions have their own unique styles. I am a firm believer that wool is the best insulator. Sheep seem to agree.

We went for a several hour, cross-country ski explore last weekend when the temperature was in the teens. Here’s the view from up behind our house.

On the trip, I tumbled, toppled and fell flat on my face – literally, when my skis came to a stop under a fallen log. At least I can get up again without a problem now. My mittens

20130215-075946.jpg were caked with snow, damp on the outside and frozen – yet they remained warn until the end of the trip. They were stranded colorwork – knit with two yarns at once, when one isn’t used, it is carried behind the work and forms a loose, double layer fabric. Plus those mittens have an additional alpaca lining. The lining felted a bit from my sweating palms, and that is part of the process. The felted fabric, think boiled wool, is denser and warm.

The thrum mittens I sent to a friend use extra strands of wool roving to add a soft, cushy lining on the inside – and they match her jacket beautifully.

These various mittens are warm, with designs or techniques often unique to their region.

I visited the Lake Placid library the other day and stumbled upon two beautiful books about warm knitting techniques – and someone who knew me by my knitting and this blog!

The first is <a href="http://“>Twined Knitting: A Swedish Folkcraft, published by Interweave in the 1980’s. Used copies now fetch more than $50; it has become a collector’s item because it sold for $19 new. It has the history of twined knitting, techniques and patterns. I am working on a sampler mitten and live the fabric. It’s a dense, double layer, stretchy fabric.

The texture techniques were usually worked in one color but I found some beautiful Koigu yarn while on my trip to Lake Placid and am playing with it. Some successes and some not.

A lot of time is spent in untwisting the twist which invariably builds up. Twined is roughly translated from two-ended because when worked in one color, you knit from both ends of the same yarn. Here’s the technique, which works for me.

20130215-082503.jpg I tied both balls of yarn together like a package and secured them with a half hitch knot. To untwist, I dangle the yarn and let it unwind on its own.

Next I am going to knit and felt some Danish mittens from techniques in Felted Knits. When the temperature drops to minus ten Fahrenheit, on more than one occasion, I seek warmth – and indoor hobbies (obsessions).
Here’s a link to a filmmaker, Andrea Odezynska, a friend just told me about. She has recently made a film, Felt, Feelings and Dreams, about Kyrgyz women who returned to felt making after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is on my must see list. Here’s a review from an early screening.