An afterthought

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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:// http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js“>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.

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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.

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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.

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