January 27, 2011

Happenstance Mittens or, Her Heart in My Hand

I know, I know, there's been a lot of knitting here lately. What can I say? It's freaking cold outside! What's a girl to do of an evening when her basket is full of new and half finished projects?
A lot of different things led to these mittens. Have you ever had a series of incidents that all push you to make one single happy little decisions? Kismet, I suppose you can call it. It doesn't seem to happen that often, but this week, it did.

First. it got colder and I borrowed the mittens that I made for Will while walking Evie to school. And they were so toasty warm that I started to think I might need to a) steal Will's, or, the nicer option, b) make a pair for myself.

On that same walk Evelyn refused to hold my hand. OK, this wasn't one of those golden shining moments. In fact, it left me rather stressed. But I could see her point. She isn't a mitten girl. She has two pairs (pink, both of them, what else) but she only tries them on and then immediately tosses them back into the box. Instead she likes muffs. Yes, muffs. And no, you can't really buy muffs, but they are pretty easy to make. So ever since she was old enough to no be zipped bodily into a giant fuzzy sack in her stroller, she has had muffs. And they work perfectly. Except when you want her to hold your hand to cross the road or walk a little more quickly than four-year-old-putter pace. Because who wants to pull their hands out of a nice warm muff and hold a cold hand? But roads must be crossed and hands must be held. Something needed to be done.

Which is about when I saw this image. Brilliant. And really, pretty simple to make I figured. And as I happened to be down at the yarn shop buying some beautiful white wool to make a hat for a friend, well, I picked up an extra skein for my mittens. Because I NEEDED them.

And then it snowed, and I got a quiet afternoon where I could actually sit down and knit and knit and finish a pair of mittens.
It was only when I was halfway through the red Evie mitten that I started to remember a favorite book from my childhood. I couldn't for the life of me remember the name but I did remember that it was about a lost red mitten that ends up as the heart of a snowman. The more I knit, the more I thought about that book and that snowman's heart.

Eventually I figured out the name of the book. The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg. Of course. I loved his books as a kid. This and The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash were among my favorites.
We tried out the mittens today on the way to library time. Evelyn giggled and wiggled her fingers inside her mitten the whole way. And she didn't let go once. Perfect.

So just in case you have a little someone with cold fingers, here is the pattern. The mittens are pretty basic but infinitely changeable. If you want to make the cuffs longer, knit more rib. Ditto with the body of the mitten (although not in rib, of course). I've used my favorite Montana once again. It's the yarn I used for both Will's mittens and a pair I made my brother and it was just too cozy to resist. But any super bulky yarn will work. I also only made one mitten with an Evelyn mitten on it because I pretty much always hold her left hand in my right. But you could make both mittens the same if you like.

Keep warm my friends.

Her Heart In My Hand Mittens

Montana by Tahki in Natural
Lamb's Pride Bulky in Red

US size 10 DPN's

Adult Mittens - 3 1/2 sts per inch
Child's Mitten - 3 1/4 sts per inch

For the Adult Mitten:

Cast on 28 sts and split between four needles 6 sts, 8 sts, 6 sts, 8 sts. Join the round and work in 2 by 2 rib for 8 rows. (this is the reason for the 6/8/6/8 split between the needles, keeps the ribs together)

Knit 2 rounds

Round 3 - K 1, K F and B, K 12, place marker, K2 Place marker, K 12
Round 4 - *Knit to first marker, make 1, knit to second marker, make one, knit to end of round
Round 5 - Knit all sts.*

Rounds 6-10 - repeat between *'s (39 sts)
Place the sts between the markers (10) onto a holder.
Knit remaining sts until the piece measures 7 inches or about 1 inch less than the finished length you want.

Shape top

Round 1 - K 2tog, K 11, K2tog, K10, K2tog (this is an odd row but it evens out the sts, switch the 10 and the 11 for the other mitten) (24 sts)

Round 2 - Knit all sts

Round 3 - K2tog, K8, K2tog, K2tog, K8, K2tog (20 sts)

Round 4 - Knit all sts

Round 5 - K2tog, K6, K2tog, K2tog, K6, K2tog (16 sts)

Round 6 - Knit all sts

Round 7 - K2tog, K4, K2tog, K2tog, K4, K2tog (12 sts)

Close with a kitcner stitch

Place 10 thumb sts on two needles and pick up 3 across the join with a third needle. With new yarn knit until the thumb is the length you desire (for me it was a little more than 2 1/2 inches)

Shape end

Round 1 - K1, K2tog to end (7 sts)
Round 2 - K1 K2tog to end (4 sts)

Break yarn and pull through all sts, drawing tight to close. Tie off and weave in loose ends.

Child's "Mitten" - this is the front of the mitten only

Cast on 10 sts ( you only need 3 needles for this one)
Work 5 rows in 1x1 rib
Row 6 - Knit across
Row 7 - P across
Row 8 - K f and b, K to last sts, K f and b
Row 9 - P across
Row 10-13 repeat rows 8 and 9 (16 sts)
Row 14 - K 6, leave on one needle, pick up a new needle and knit remaining sts - these will be the "active sts"
Row 15 - P active sts across
Row 16 - K f and b, K across
Row 17 - P across
Rows 18-27, work in stockinette stitch
Row 28 - K2tog, K to last st, K2tog
Row 29 - P across
Row 30 K2tog, cast off to last 3 sts, K last 2 tog and then cast them off. Break yarn, pull through and tie off. Weave in ends.

Thumb -

Knit in Stockinette Stitch 8 rows
Row 9 - K2tog across
Row 10 - P2tog across
Break yarn, pull tail through sts, tie off and weave in ends.

Now, Put your mitten on and have your child hold your hand. Using their hand placement as a guide and the yarn you worked your child mitten in, sew the child mitten onto the adult one with a whip stitch. Try to pick up the bar between stitches on the adult mitten and make sure you are only sewing through one layer. I found it worked best to start at the V between the thumb and finger and sew around the main part of the hand then to go back and do the other side, but do whatever works for you!