Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

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10 December 2008

Not My First

Scary picture of a mitten thumb

These were not the first mittens I ever knitted. But they were the first mittens I ever knitted for myself.

When our son started kindergarten, I had been knitting for about a year. I had gone from knitting on a peg frame to double-knitting flattened tubes. I had knitted socks as flattened, purl-side-out tubes with turned heels.

I could knit a tube with a bend in it. A mitten was just a tube without a bend. I had Knitter's Almanac and a measure of Elizabeth Zimmermann's "Knit on" attitude.

So I took the child to the store and let him pick out his own yarn. He picked orange yarn. Not just any old orange, Red Heart "Brilliant Orange", an orange that literally left afterimages when I looked away from it.

I knitted him two pairs of brilliant orange mittens, one a little bigger than the other, for the winter he was in kindergarten. It turns out it is very hard to lose bright orange mittens. They are amazingly easy to see in the snow. And he never lost them at school. All the kids knew those were his mittens.

With that bit of success, I decided to knit myself mittens. Just like his mittens and my socks, I knitted them all as flattened purl-side-out tubes. (Yes, I did learn to purl first, and just as Elizabeth Zimmermann thought, I find purling fast and easy.) I used her "thumb trick" to lay in contrasting yarn where I would pick up stitches for the thumb.

After four years, my mitten thumbs had been darned a couple of times and were getting pretty thin.

It was time to knit (well, purl) new thumbs. I eventually found the leftover yarn - it was still hanging around with the brioche swatch I made on my double rake back in January.

This time I've been knitting a little longer, and I wanted to try something I noticed on the pair of cheap stretch gloves I wear when I rake the roof: turned fingertips.

(No, I'm not wearing handknits to rake the roof. The roof rake is aluminum. Wet aluminum turns my gloves dark gray. For roof raking, I wear dollar store stretch gloves under a pair of cotton work gloves. And I take all my rings off, because if you blister your hands up too much, it hurts to knit.)

And it worked pretty well. It's not perfect, and they are not things of great beauty. But they are weatherproof again, and I learned something again.

Maybe it's about time to knit another pair of mittens.

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10 Comments:

Blogger Rose Red said...

Love the story about your son's mittens - heh, bright orange - you definitely can be guaranteed not to lose those!

11:18 PM  
Blogger amy said...

I seem to be continually knitting mittens. :-) We have some orange pairs floating around too, from the winter we were part of a group doing nature activities on state land that was open for hunting. I figured extra orange couldn't hurt.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Donna Lee said...

I'm impressed you still have mittens from 2 years ago! I'm as bad as the kids. I lost two pairs last winter and have been loathe to make myself a pair (all that work just to lose them). I bought a pair and they're just not warm enough. That's why I began the thrummed mittens.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Roxie said...

I spray paint the handles of my tools in traffic-cone orange. No one steals MY tools!

Turned finger tips? How do you do that?

12:46 PM  
Blogger Bells said...

Genius!!

I wouldn't wear handknits to do work like that either. Asking for trouble!

4:55 PM  
Blogger Knitting Linguist said...

Isn't learning things the best bit about knitting? And I love to see what other people learn (like orange mittens for kids; I'm making a note to myself now).

9:25 PM  
Blogger tatt3r said...

Turned fingertips? Did you turn them like a short-row toe? Now that I think of it, you would have a very smooth tip, not the bunchy pulled together kind. Verrry Interesting!

12:01 PM  
Blogger Lucia said...

Maybe I should make Miss B some orange ones... what are turned fingertips?

6:15 PM  
Blogger TinkingBell said...

I love mittens - knitting mittens reignited my love asffair with knitting!

It also enabled me to meet people like you and to thank you for your wonderful part in my beautiful woollen hug

Thank you so much!

1:21 AM  
Blogger One More Stitch said...

Love the scary photo!

12:19 AM  

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