Pattern: Bodhi Mittens, from RiverPoet Designs
Size made: Medium, knit to the length suggested for Small
Yarn used: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Azul Profundo for the outer mitten and inner cuff (every last bit of one skein); Plymouth Royal Cashmere DK in Sage for the lining, about 90 yards/30 grams (I have about 20 grams left). I bought the Malabrigo at Stitches West in February and the cashmere, from DBNY, has been sitting in my stash for years now, periodically being swatched and frogged–somehow I just never found an application that seemed right for it until now. I think it’s a cabled yarn (multiple two-plies plied together) so it is a bit ropier-looking than you might expect 100% cashmere to be.
Needles used: US size 6/4.0 mm (magic loop for the main mitten, magic loop two at a time for the linings, DPNs for the thumbs of both shell and lining)
Date started: First mitten: June 6. Second mitten: June 16. Linings: June 18.
Date completed: First mitten: June 8. Second mitten: June 18. Linings: June 21.
Mods/Notes: I’ve been admiring this pattern for a bit; it’s not too well known, I think, but I saw a few FOs and KALs going on in the Malabrigo Junkies group, and I had wanted to cast on for these during Malabrigo March but just felt like I couldn’t commit to another WIP at the time. I brought the pattern and yarn with me when I went to Boston, and completed the first mitten there in just a couple of evenings. Worsted weight, non-stranded mittens are so gloriously fast!
I cast on for the size Medium (using a tubular CO) but realized as I neared completion on the hand that I would only need to knit it to the length specified for Small. I probably should have chosen the size Small to knit to begin with, in fact, because the fit was a bit roomy. The underside of the cuff is knit in seed stitch, which looks really sharp but obviously doesn’t draw in at all. So the wrist was outright baggy, and the rest of the hand was a little looser than I wanted.
To remedy this, and counteract the relatively thin and holey single-stranded fabric, I decided to knit linings for the mittens. I thought for a while about how to do it, and I think I got it almost right. I decided to use the rest of the Malabrigo to knit ribbed cuffs for the lining–it seemed perfect to have a combination of ribbing to draw it in tight against my skin, and the thicker worsted weight yarn to fill in as much of the empty space as possible. I was also worried that a) the cashmere would show if I used it to knit the cuff, b) it wouldn’t have as much elasticity as the merino, so the ribbing would sag, and c) it wouldn’t have as much body as the merino, so cold air would get up into the mitten.
I picked up stitches around the wrist edge, right side facing, at a 1 to 1 ratio (destroying my lovely tubular cast-on in the process). This is the only thing I think I might have done differently–if I’d planned ahead I would have done a provisional CO, and otherwise I might have picked up with the WS facing to create a purl ridge on the outside for a turning row, so the cuff could be folded in with a nice sharp fold.
I knit in 1×1 rib until I ran out of the Malabrigo. Serendipitously, this took me exactly to the end of the wrist area/beginning of the palm. I switched to the DK weight cashmere, which I chose because the finished fabric would be thinner and presumably would allow enough ease inside the mitten (particularly the thumb) for me to bend my fingers. Using the same needles, I knit in stockinette (RS facing), following the main pattern exactly for stitch and row counts but omitting the patterning on the back of the hand. After I finished the thumbs, and wove in the ends (not much weaving required–long tails can be hidden between the lining and the shell of the mitten) the lining could be turned inside out and pushed up inside the main mitten.
The mittens are extremely thick, warm, and cozy now. I was concerned at first about the little holes formed at the base of each blossom motif–holes in a mitten are no good for a Wisconsin winter!–but the linings will counteract those nicely. It will feel so luxurious to have these secret cashmere linings and gloriously warm hands to look forward to come winter. I love the way the mittens look, too–the flowery bodhi tree motif on the back of the hands is very pretty.
The pattern was nice to work with–I had no issues with it. It could have been condensed (I didn’t read the pages with the visual explanation of the mitten setup, but I can see how they would be helpful; and the left and right mitten instructions were spelled out line by line, instead of having one set of instructions with just the thumb placement reversed).
If I made these again, I would just go with a normal ribbed cuff instead of the seed stitch, even if I were doing the lining again. Seed stitch is pretty, but it looks really poochy in the wrist area.
The instructions provide a couple of methods for working the twist stitches–I used the k2tog variations (i.e. no cable needle).
Have you ever lined mittens? Do you have any tips for sizing, yarn selection, etc.? The sizing on these was easy since the gauge was the same between the shell and lining, but I’ve always been unsure about how to deal with it for stranded mittens. (Easy answer… gauge swatch for the lining in stockinette… but what a pain in the ass.) I’ve read that angora makes a fantastic lining, and I was thinking of experimenting with Kidsilk Haze or a KSH-type light and fuzzy yarn for a low-bulk lining that would still trap a lot of warm air.