I had a bit of a scare yesterday and the day before as I was working on my Bird in Hand mittens. I was about 80% done with the first mitten when I looked at it and thought “hmm… these look awfully small.” I checked my gauge and somewhere between the cuff and the hand, I’d gone from about 8 stitches per inch to more than 9 stitches per inch. (I was watching Heroes while I knit–perhaps the plot just got too gripping?) I looked at the remaining length of the chart, did some quick calculations using my new row gauge… and realized my mittens were going to be about a inch too short.

I stamped despairingly around the house for a while. This pattern is quirky and asymmetrical, which is charming, but it also means it offers no easy way to lengthen the fingers by adding extra repeats.

Before I went to bed, I decided to soak the mitten and stretch it (still on the needles) over a Snapple bottle with the sadistic enthusiasm of a Spanish Inquisitioner, or one of the Oompa Loompas on the Mike Teavee case. In the morning, I checked it. It looked promising. Praying to the gods of knitting, I knit the rest of the mitten tip with  needles two sizes larger (US size 1.5 instead of 0)…

and lo and behold, the mitten fit. Snugly, but it fit!

(As an aside, I’m now knitting with the Knit Picks Harmony DPNs and I really like them. I prefer metal needles to wood for larger sizes, but I’ve found wooden DPNs to be much more comfortable than metal ones for me. I don’t like the idea that they might snap, but I guess that’s why they include 6 DPNs in the Harmony packages.)

I raced through the thumb so I could have the fun of knitting and embroidering the Bird in Hand. I read a wonderful tip on Ravelry–seems like common sense, but I am sure I wouldn’t have thought of it myself until after it was too late–to embroider the details on the bird before closing up the top of the thumb. I don’t know how I would have done it if I had finished knitting the thumb before doing the finishing.

I love how the mitten looks, but I’m not crazy about the bird. The French knot I made for his eye is too big, so he looks kind of bug-eyed and crazy, like that crackhead cereal-box squirrel. Also, Rahul couldn’t even see the bird and was squinting at it like a Magic Eye picture until I pointed out the beak and eye.

I have high hopes for the second bird, though. I’m about a quarter of the way through the second mitten (and through 3 discs of Heroes) and still loving this pattern. (Knitting on larger needles from the start this time, so my mittens might end up quite fraternal.)
The only problem is that I have this nasty, sneaking suspicion I might run out of brown yarn. I had a skein and a half of Wool of the Andes, so I thought I would be good, but the second skein is looking pretty thin right now… anyway, in a few days, I guess I’ll find out for sure if I need to put in another Knit Picks order.

Notes to self:

Lesson #1: Gauge matters for mittens. Even if a mitten is not much bigger than a gauge swatch itself, I should still knit a swatch for it, because I hate, hate, hate ripping my knitting back.

Lesson #2: In the future, buy more yarn than you think you need if you’re making mittens.

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