the Changing My Mind mittens

After reading through my Ravelry notes for these mittens, I could think of no other title for the post. Indeed, in the roughly five months that it took me to completely finish these, I changed my mind many many times about many many things.

One thing remained the same – I loved the pattern from start to finish and can wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s not one for beginners,  I’ll say that much, and it definitely involved both concentration and deliberate effort, but it was also very clear in instructions and enjoyable. I won’t even mention the awesomeness of the finished product.

But back to the changing of mind.

Habits

At first I thought I would lead a knitting diary for this project – noting when I knitted and how much, and when I did not knit and why (thus remembering not only the good knitting times, but also the good reasons for skipping knitting – like hanging out with my friends). However, the diary idea died out with time. I seem to be as bad at keeping knitting diaries as I am at “real-life” diaries. Too bad, because I really enjoy reading the parts when I was still keeping up – it’s a nice snippet of my life.

I also planned to knit 5 rounds each day and finish this quicker. But in the end I gave up on that and simply followed my natural rhythm. I gave myself time, worked on this when it felt right and dropped it when it seemed smarter to take a break.

Needles

I had originally started this project on 3.5mm needles, but promptly decided that this was going to be too loose and changed my mind to 3mm. In retrospect, this was not the best choice, I am really convinced that the colourwork would have looked much nicer at this slightly looser gauge. However this realisation came far too late to consider ripping – there had already been too much work invested and I was not changing my mind again for anything!

I should also add that I had started knitting on double-pointed needles. At some point, I decided to try magic loop instead (I had never tried it with colourwork before), and this completely changed the whole project for me. It became so much faster, so much less fiddly! Yay! I’m never going back!

Lining

But the most changes of mind concerned the lining.  At first I was convinced that the mittens were too snug to be adding a lining as well, so I considered the project finished when I completed the outer mittens. But then I wore them for a week. And started thinking that a little bit of lining would be ok. Just around the wrist, not all the way around the whole mitten. Then I wore them some more. And it occured to me that, since the yarn I had bought for the lining was a laceweight anyway, the thing would be so thin that it would probably fit easily even if I knit the whole inner mitten. Then I picked up my needles. And thought: man it’s going to be difficult figuring out these lining numbers for a laceweight. Why don’t I just try holding it double like that lady whose notes I saw on Ravelry…

And so we came from “No, no lining at all!” to “A full lining in the yarn weight the pattern called for”. :) Luckily, it seems to have been a good change of mind. I’ve been wearing these for a few weeks now and they are just heaven. So much so that I am even regretting a bit all the warm spring weather – as it just makes no sense to wear mittens with four layers of wool when the sun is shining…

One final observation about making a pair of something. Comparing my left and right mitten, the difference is obvious. The stitches are messier on the first one, the floats are tighter, the thumb has a larger hole which is stitched up awkwardly so that it’s a bit tight when I put it on… None of these problems appear on the second mitten. It is very easy to conclude that the first mitten was the one on which I tested things and figured them out as I went along, while on the second one I successfully applied the lessons learned. I wonder if this is simply inevitable – when I make a pair of something, will the two always be slightly miss-matched, the uglier and the prettier twin? Is it just the fate of making two in a row? Well, it’s impossible to make them at the same time! Or should I make three of everything then? One to test things out and practice, then two ‘for real’.

What are your opinions on and experiences with pairs of handmade things?

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About fridica

I started knitting completely by accident, when I was visiting my parents for a holiday in 2008. On a boring Sunday afternoon, I decided to dig through their stash of books to see if there was anything interesting to take back to my apartment. A knitting manual happened to be one of the books I found. I got curious, my mom immediately dug out her old needles and yarn stash (which she hadn’t used in a decade at least), and in a few minutes we were both casting on - she by memory, I by following the instructions from the book… :) Since I normally prefer learning from books, this was ideal.. I took the book home with me, and very very soon - I was an addict.

15 thoughts on “the Changing My Mind mittens

  1. Okay, dirty secret coming at you, ready? This is why I like to make something for someone else before I make one for myself to keep! I know it is terrible, but I figure everybody wins, somebody gets a gift, and I get practice. It also works well with recipes, think of them like poison testers

  2. My technique has improved with every bit of steanded colour work I’ve done – I also have the ugly/pretty mitten projects! A common problem I should think, given how tempting mittens are as a first stranded project. The more we practice the more even the finish will be not doubt…. (surely the learning curve can’t be exponential forever?)

  3. I think all of us have a mismatched pair of knitting somewhere. I have a pair of socks where I must have been stressed while making one of them. The stitches are a bit smaller even though it’s the same yarn and needles. I think your next colorwork item will probably be much more even and match.

  4. I’ve never made a two of anything, I don’t think, but when I complete a project, I always think “now I know how to make this!”. About the diary, in one of the yarn harlot books, Steph writes that one should always carry a notebook with the knitting (or crocheting in my case). I never thought of it, and it makes sense – though I still have to implement this bright idea!

  5. Hello Fridrica! I enjoyed this post a lot! Your finishe mittens are awesome and the linen is just fabulous!
    As for my knitting experience in working pairs, you know my technique: I work both sock at the same time on separate needles to avoid SSS and be sure my socks are the same! :)

  6. I love them! The more I see this type of mitten, the more I want to knit myself some, but they look so hard :( When I knit things making them up as I go along, I forget how I did the first one (no matter how many “notes” I scribble on bits of paper) so they never quite match…

  7. Ooh I love these!! It’s been in the 70’s/80’s F this week and of course now is the time I want lined mittens.

    I haven’t tried colorwork in mittens but I have noticed that inevitably there will always be a thumb issue in the first mitten I knit. Sometimes it’s slightly tighter or slightly more hole-y where I picked up stitches. I haven’t noticed this with socks, but then again I’ve mostly stuck to simple sock patterns. :)

  8. I love that pattern as it has been in my queue since a long time! Yours I so well done! I love the colors inside and out! Pink is a great idea!

  9. The mittens look just wonderful! I think that the more you are familiar with a technique the less likely you will have the problem of the two not being the same. I am sure that only you can see the differences in your mittens. Great job!

  10. amazing!! So glad that everything worked out, including the lining. I love my fiddleheads, they are the warmest mittens ever. Yours are so beautiful!

  11. I’m the same with pairs & colourwork! I tackle the pair problem by knitting my socks two-at-a-time (on two circulars) this is slower but I get the results I want, so I’m happy.
    I recently knit a pair of colourwork mitts for a friend and was pleased to see that my wonky tension seems to have resolved itself. I knit these one at a time (because I can’t handle two circular needles, 4 balls of yarn, thinking of/looking at patterns in reverse while keeping track of it all AND my tension!) and back to back – i find that taking a break in-between a pair of something REALLY messes with my tension!
    Coincidentally I considered knitting her the fiddlehead mitts but went with rose (http://www.ravelry.com/projects/ewenique/rose) instead.

    • Hm, the time is a good point, there were definitely at least a few weeks in between finishing the first one and starting the second one in this case! Rose is also on my queue :)

  12. Fridica i am loving this mitten pattern you have done also! Really enjoyed reading about how your plans changed and evolved as you went! I have only made two pairs of mittens so far. My next pair now will include liners as your post has increased my confidence! ty :)

    psst… here a secret: no it is not impossible to make them at the same time! you can use two circular needles at the same time! I learned how to knit socks on two circular needles and am so glad that was how I learned it. If you ever try your hand at knitting a pair on 2 circs at same time feel free to have a glance at my needle position flowchart that i developed whilst i was learning how. It really came in handy until i got my memory / repetition down to a natural rhythm! http://www.ravelry.com/projects/nelsonjane/my-needle-position-flowchart-for-2-socks–a-time-on-circular-needles

    you’ll be surprised how fast and identical your pairs will turn out.

    sidenote: i still have not learned how to cast-on for 2-at-a-time on 2 circs so I cast on individually and transfer as needed.

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