Archives for posts with tag: bird in hand

Sooo my trip planning is going kind of poorly. One of the airlines I have tickets with (Siem Reap Airways) got blacklisted by the EU for inadequate safety standards and suspended all flights about 6 days after I bought the tickets. Supposedly we can still fly with their parent carrier (but is that any better?) And then tonight, at Stitch ‘n’ Bitch, I broke my glasses! The earpiece just snapped right off. We’re leaving on Monday and tomorrow and Friday we’re supposed to get 6-12 inches of snow, so I’m not sure I want to venture out to the optometrist until the weekend. Not sure what to do about this, and I can’t find my spares. For the moment, I’m supergluing the broken pair back together. Things are not going well!

But I do have something knitting-related that I’m happy about, at least. More than one thing, but I don’t know how many of them I’ll get a chance to write up before I go.

Some background: my absolute favorite mittens are my Bird in Hand mittens (pattern available here.) The only problem is that when it gets down to below zero, like it was here in Madison the other day,

stranded worsted weight knit at a fingering weight gauge, while plenty warm, just isn’t quite warm enough. I wanted a pair of thrummed mittens like the ones I made Rahul (see the guts? I didn’t have a picture of them last time)

but I also wanted to wear my favorite mittens.

So I decided to retrofit my mitts with afterthought thrums!

They are invisible from the outside (aside from the mitten looking a little puffy, and fitting tighter than it used to) and super warm.

Here’s how to do it:
Gather your supplies:

  • one pair of stranded mittens, preferably a pair with more ease in them than mine have,
  • a couple of ounces of nice woolly roving, matching or not–mine is indigo and osage-dyed Corriedale from Handspun by Stefania, and really I should have used the random bright pink and orange roving I have lying around that I’ll never make anything with, rather than the expensive natural-dyed stuff, but I couldn’t resist the matching green. Whatever color you pick, it won’t show. The important thing is that the fibers should be at least a couple of inches long, and have some crimp, so they’ll stay in the mitten. There was a thread on Ravelry about thrummed mittens where someone suggested cashmere thrums. This is a bad idea, because down fibers are so short, they’ll never stay in place. You want something where you can pull off a decent-sized lock.
  • a crochet hook of a decent size (I don’t know much about crochet hook sizing, but I think I used a G hook. Something a reasonable size for worsted-weight yarn)

Turn the mitten inside out.

Pull off a piece of wool about the width of your finger and a few inches long. This is your thrum.

Stick your crochet hook under a couple of floats. Do not go through the main part of the knitted fabric, just under the floats.

Fold the thrum in half and loop the middle over the crochet hook (sorry, this is a little blurry, but you get the idea).

Use the crochet hook to pull the center of the thrum under the floats.

Now go over the floats with the crochet hook and grab the tail ends of the thrum with it…

And pull these through the loop formed by the folded middle of the thrum.

Voila, a thrum attached invisibly to the inside of the mitten, after the fact!

Continue to attach thrums evenly across the back of the fabric so you have a nice woolly layer. I have a short attention span and a lot of Christmas knitting to do, so my mittens are still pretty much in the partially-thrummed state you see below, but it has really improved their insulating powers. (For one mitt. I have part of one mitt thrummed. But on Monday I will be in a place where it’s 80 degrees out, so I’m not in a huge hurry to get this done.)

Pretty awesome, right?

I hope this trick is useful to my fellow knitters in similarly fiercely cold climates!

I will!

Pattern: Kate Gilbert’s Bird in Hand

Size: Smallest size, downsized further for a 7″ hand; finished size about 7″ around and 5″ from thumb crotch to fingertip; thumb about 2.5″ long and 3″ around. They fit my hands perfectly!

Yarn used: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Chocolate, about 1.5 skeins; Classic Elite Tapestry (Ravelry link) color 2272 (green), just less than one skein.

This photo shows the amount of yarn I had left afterwards. I started with about 1.5 skeins of WOTA (one full skein plus about half a skein left over from a scarf) and exactly 1 skein of Tapestry.

Needles used: Knit Picks nickel-plated DPNs, US size 0/2.0 mm, for about 80% of the hand of the first mitten, and Knit Picks Harmony DPNs, US size 1.5/2.5 mm for the rest.

Started: 1/3/08

Finished: 1/11/08

Mods: Aimed for a gauge of about 8 sts per inch to downsize the mittens. Since my gauge went down as I was knitting the first mitten, the size shrank accordingly and I had to block severely to fix it–the mittens are roughly the same size now, but you can see that they’re fraternal in the side-by-side pictures:

Following the advice of some people on the Ravelry Bird in Hand KAL, I used a two-color Estonian braid for the middle braid of the second mitten, to mix things up a bit. Link to the two-color braid discussion here. I like the look of it better than the single-color braid. I went back and duplicate-stitched over the middle braid in the first mitten so it would match. They look nearly identical, see?

To work a two-color braid: M1 using CC, put it back on left needle.
*From behind, knit the second st through the back loop using MC and leave it on the needle, knit the first st through the front loop using MC and drop both sts, put new st back on left needle;

From behind, knit the second st using MC and leave it on the needle, knit the first st through the front loop using CC and drop both sts, put new st back on left needle;* and so on, always knitting the back st with MC and alternating colors for the front st, until the end of the round.

Notes: The best advice I got on making these from the knitalong was to do the embroidery before closing up the thumb. My embroidery could use some work. Maybe I’ll have to make another pair so I can have another go at making realistic birds.

Here they are:

And some colorwork close-ups:

I have lots of other notes on these mittens in the previous posts about them. So I don’t have much more to say right now–I just have to say I love these mittens, they fit wonderfully, and I’d totally make another pair. I’m not sure I could say that about any of the other ones I’ve knit so far–with their repeating motifs, they somehow all seemed like much more of a slog.

Soundtrack: The Littlest Birds, by the Be Good Tanyas

“Well, the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs…”

I guess I should get around to writing up the official finished object post for the Selbuvotter Black Lilies mittens, too. There are lots more pictures and details on these in the archives.

Pattern: NHM #7 from Selbuvotter

Size: Finished size: About 6″ from thumb crotch to fingertip (i.e. about 1″ too long for my hands); thumb about 3″ long and 3.75″ around; hand about 9″ around (i.e. about 2″ too wide for my hands). There’s probably enough room in there for a fuzzy mitten liner, if I get around to making one. I think my gauge (and row gauge) is about 8 sts per inch.

Yarn used: Knit Picks Telemark in cream and black, 2 skeins each. About 1.25 skeins of black, 1.75 skeins of cream.

Needles used: US 1/2.25 mm (What was I doing with these? I wrote it down but don’t remember why I used them–the ribbing, maybe, and/or the thumb?) and US 1.5/2.5 mm circs, magic looped, for most of the mitten

Started: 9/26/07

Finished: 12/22/07

Mods: Used a striped thumb instead of the charted thumb from the pattern, as detailed here.

Notes: I ran out of black yarn when I was thisclose to finishing the second mitten:

And I stalled for a while. I don’t think a pair of mittens would normally take me three months to make.

My gauge changed kind of a lot between mittens. You can see the difference in size here, with the smaller mitten placed on top of the larger one:

Eh. They’re pretty anyway!
Here are the lilies:

The palms with the stripey thumbs:

and the undersides of the thumbs, where I more or less successfully continued the palm pattern upwards–a detail I’m quite proud of, but which would be lost on most non-knitters:

I might need some convertible mittens/glittens next. I do have a pair I cobbled together by making Knucks and putting together my own flip-top pattern, but the yarn is thin and they’re not that warm.

Berroco has their Spring 2008 collection up now. I kind of love Currer, from Norah Gaughan Vol. 2, but started to worry that perhaps this was one of those things where I’m drawn to a pattern because it’s unusual and has an interesting construction technique, but it’s actually a major fashion mistake when viewed by any non-knitter. I’m thinking this because when I looked at Ellis, Currer’s sister pattern, my first thought was that the model looked very much like a grasshopper , with wings folded neatly back.

I also like the circular neckline insert thing going on with Athos and Porthos, but I’d probably make the Lacy Waves top from Lace Style before going with either of those.

I have two Bird in Hand mittens finished! I made it to the top decreases after 3 hours at knitting night; the cafe closed and kicked us out, so I went home and knit, embroidered, and wove in ends for another few hours… and I have one more Bird in Hand mitten to show for it. I did not run out of yarn, but it was close–I have probably less than 10 yards of yarn left, of either color. So 50g/95 yards seems to be (barely) sufficient yardage for the contrast color (Classic Elite Tapestry), and roughly 100g/220 yards would be safest to get for the main color–I had 1.5 skeins of chocolate brown Wool of the Andes to start with, but I have no idea exactly how many yards it was, nor how many are left over.

I love the bird on the thumb–such a little treat to look forward to. It’s like saving the cherry on top of your ice cream sundae for last.

Pictures coming soon. Mitten #1, at least, fits and is gorgeous. Mitten #2, 80% of which was knit on different sized needles than mitten #1, is somewhere in the neighborhood of the same size. I will see how it fits after blocking.

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.

The Bird in Hand mittens, as I mentioned in my last post, have been hurting my hands. I bent one or two of my steel DPNs into gentle arcs trying to force the decreases. Still, soldiering on with them in search of the perfect mittens–the Selbuvotter mittens, as it turns out, are about an inch too long for my hands, and rather loose, so they’re not as warm or comfortable as they should be. I’m considering making liners, but the thumbs are already pretty stiff and snug, so that might not work well.

Here’s the palm of the mitten in progress, no flash…

And here’s the back of the hand in progress, with flash.

Because my fingers were hurting from wrestling with the DPNs, I just had to take a break when my package from WEBS arrived.

On the left, one of the size 0 DPNs I’m using for the mittens; on the right, one of the size 19 Denise needles I used for this latest FO.

The sweater in question? The Shopping Tunic, from Twinkle’s Big City Knits–and I knit the entire sweater in two evenings. At this rate, I could knit 182 sweaters a year!

Unfortunately, you kind of get out of it what you put into it. All my photos came out hideous and I have a sinking feeling this is because the sweater itself is hideous.

Here’s the least hideous of the snapshots. Gah! I mean, I love it in theory, but the gauge looks so loose and sloppy. I blocked it and everything. And it’s certainly not very flattering. Perhaps if I wore sleeker clothes underneath, in similar and darker colors, it would work better. I don’t like that big lump where you can see the waistband of my jeans.

Rahul was not a big fan of this. I tried it on to show him, and he looked dubious.

“Um. Are you giving this to someone else?”


“Is it meant for wearing around the house?”

“No, you’re supposed to wear it out.”

He considered this for a moment and said, diplomatically, “I think the stitch size is too big.”

“But that’s the designer’s signature style!”

“Sorry. I guess I’m just a plebeian.”

“Well… it’s stylish! It was in Anthropologie!”

“No WAY!!” he exclaimed, unable to restrain his disbelief–then added, “Actually, I don’t know what Anthropologie is, but whoever they are, they did not have this sweater.”

I had to try and find the Butter Hill funnelneck online to show him. Then, because it was striped and this is not, he wouldn’t believe it was the same sweater.

“It looks like chain mail!”


“It looks like you’re about to ride into battle! You look like Barbarossa!”

Anyway–I’ll have to see if I can do anything with the styling to make it more wearable. Till then, the jury is still out on this one.

Thankfully, I do like this Flared Lace Smoke Ring I finished last week. (Isn’t that a great sweater I’m wearing? Sadly, I didn’t make it–I bought it at an Old Navy after-Christmas sale)

And this is how we wear the cowl in the old country:

Pattern: Heartstrings Flared Lace Smoke Ring

Size: As specified by the pattern: 28″ around at the base, 22″ around at the top, 18″ long.

Yarn used: Elann Silken Kydd in Baked Apple, 1 skein

Needles used: US size 6/4.0 mm Denises

Started: 12/26/07

Finished: 1/3/08

Mods: Used less than the specified yardage of yarn. Bound off with a *k1, k2tog, slip st back to left needle* BO to create a stretchy, ruffled BO edge. Other than that, nothing.

Notes: Fluffy, soft, easy, and pretty–a nice use for one skein of laceweight. Notes on the yarn are here. The stitch pattern looks complicated, but is repetitive enough that this became my TV knitting once I got through the decrease charts. (You knit from the bottom up, decreasing for a few lace repeats, and then work the last chart, keeping the stitch count constant, until the cowl is the length you want it.)

I might send this to my grandma. I’m not sure if she would wear it or if she would prefer the traditionally shaped scarves/shawls she already has.

I’m buying Barbara Abbey’s Knitting Lace with my latest Amazon gift certificate. Has anyone seen/used this book? I love the edgings section in Barbara Walker vol. 2, and I’m hoping this book will be a worthwhile supplement. Plus, it sounds like the patterns are charted–bonus!

I have some things I feel like bitching about.

Non-bitching content first. I finished my Selbuvotter mittens, after entirely too long, with a hiatus in there caused by running out of of CC yarn. I’ll post more about the project details later… in the meantime, just a couple of pretty pictures:

I finished the flared lace smoke ring I was working on and immediately cast on for yet another pair of mittens. “Didn’t you just make a pair of mittens?” said my boyfriend suspiciously. “How many mittens do you need?”

The pattern I’m using is Kate Gilbert’s lovely Bird in Hand–the flowers and vines! the Estonian braids! The tiny, adorable thumb-bird!–and it’s gorgeous, but [commence bitch #1] my hands are killing me! I thought knitting the Selbuvotter mittens using Telemark, a sport weight yarn, on US size 1.5/2.5 mm was bad enough. Now I know that was nothing compared to knitting worsted weight on size US size 0/2.0 mm needles. It’s not that my wrists hurt or anything, but I seem to have some slight bruising where my steel DPN has been pushing against my left pinky and ring finger for leverage. The main part of the knitting is OK, but all the decreases and twists in the cuff were murder on my finger. Ow.

I’m using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Chocolate for the main color. It’s the lighter brown on the right in the picture below:

And I’m using Classic Elite Tapestry in a kind of lime green color for the contrast. It’s the skein on the left in the picture below:

(I got all 6 of these skeins for $5 at a thrift store. One of the best yarn finds ever!)

[Commence bitch #2]
I bought some Jaggerspun Zephyr yarn from Sarah’s Yarns. She had kindly posted to let people know her prices were going up due to increases in the wholesale cost, so I thought I’d make an order so I could see what all the fuss was about with this cult classic yarn. I got a couple of skeins of the laceweight in a dark grapey purple, perhaps for the Peacock Feathers shawl, and some of the DK weight in Ruby–not sure what for, but I have a weakness for burgundy reds.

The UPS tracking number said it was delivered on December 15th, but I have seen no sign of it.

I have every confidence that Sarah will make it right if the package doesn’t ever show up (for the moment, she’s she put a trace on it) but if someone stole the package, that just sucks. I highly doubt that any of my neighbors is a sticky-fingered knitter. Maybe one, or the other, but probably not both. Maybe it was a drive-by swiping, or maybe my package accidentally got sent to Texas or something.

[Commence bitch #3]
I had a big package of Malabrigo on order through a group buy. I didn’t realize this was an issue, but apparently some retailer didn’t like the competition, secretly added themselves to the list, and ratted out the group to Malabrigo, making them cancel the order. Stoolie! Mole!

I guess I can’t really complain that strongly about the backstabby retailer trying to get rid of their competition if Malabrigo has an explicit anti-coop policy, although I still feel like it’s sneaky and underhanded to secretly join the group, pretending all the while that they have good intentions. Some yarn manufacturers, like 100purewool and Peace Fleece, encourage coop/group buys, but others have issues with it and I guess Malabrigo is one of them.

Sad. I had enough worsted weight in Garnet headed my way to make the balloon-sleeve jacket from the cover of Sensual Knits, and I was going to try some of the absolutely luscious (but incredibly expensive) handspun, hand-dyed angora in Velvet Grapes.

One of these days. I’ve still never tried Malabrigo and this is one of those other cult classic yarns that everyone raves about. Maybe I’ll pick some up at the LYS next time they have a good color in stock.

[Commence bitch #4]
Also, I ordered from the WEBS anniversary sale and they were out of part of my order. I only found this out when they shipped the incomplete package and I noticed the billed total was different from what I was expecting. I wish they had told me first, because I ended up substituting colors and now they’re sending me a second, separate package when everything could easily have gone in the same box.

[Commence bitch #5]
My computer crashed while I was writing this.

[Commence bitch #6]
I thought Rahul was just making it up when he told me the New York Times had reported that Mike Huckabee, who just won the Republican Iowa caucus, used to cook up squirrels in a popcorn popper and eat them.