I have sold my first pair of mittens.
They were commissioned by the lovely and talented Elise, a coworker of Paul's. Making them was such fun.
I knit them in a "cashmerino", which is a rather luxe baby-soft blend of wool and cashmere. They were really fun to do. The request was for pretty, feminine, and delicate pale lavender/periwinkle mittens. I wanted to do cables in a bulky Lamb's Pride, but realized this would not turn out delicate. So I thought of lace. But lacy mitts don't make for warm fingers.
After flipping through a few pattern books and finding nothing like what I wanted, I turned to Barbara Walker's wonderful treasuries of stitch patterns. I found a lovely tulip bud edging, which made a chain of leaves. From this I extrapolated the pattern for a single knitted leaf.
One of the first things my mother showed me how to knit was mittens without a pattern. (It's funny, she says she doesn't like designing!)
Knitting Details For knitting-types:
-In the round, on double-points: Knit a ribbed cuff. I like K2, P1
-Knit around plain 3-4 rows. Increase a bit for hand width.
-Make a gore for the thumb: Increase the first stitch of one needle. Place a marker and Increase again. I like to increase here by knitting into the front and back of the stitch, which makes nary a hole. Wrap the fabric around thumb to determine number of thumb stitches. Continue increases (first stitch of the same needle, first stitch after the marker) until gore has enough stitches.
-Knit around until mitten reaches webbing of thumb comfortably when tried on.
-Now I like to knit the thumb. I do this because it's easier and prettier than making a hole for the thumb and trying to pick up the stitches around it later. Put hand stitches on holder, (everything except the gore) knit around for length of thumb, decrease quickly, and sew in tail.
-Pick up hand stitches and join thread in by knitting a stitch, and then knitting with two strands until the tail is used up. It doesn't show.
-Knit around until mitten is as tall as the index finger when tried on. Decrease quickly and sew in end of yarn. Voila!
In my early mitten-making days, after a few rounds making three mittens in search of two alike, I learned a few mitten-making tricks for patternless rogues:
-Either write down what I'm doing as I do it, or be prepared to count stitches and rows on the first mitten many times over.
-Make the ribbing around the wrist long enough--snow and cold like to get in between the coat sleeve and mitten!
-I like to increase three or four stitches right above the cuff and two stitches in the hand right above the thumb gore for good fit. These increases can be nicely hidden by the ribbing or gore.
-Check to make sure the thumb gore is wide enough and long enough--this makes for the perfect fit.
In the Elise Mittens, the leaf is appliqued on, and the curlicues are embroidered in a chain stitch. This would look nice in contrasting colors on the right mitten, but I wanted it to look knitterly and subtle.