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Rustic Pinstripe Mittens, 2 Versions



Well, it looks like I have not updated this blog in some time - mainly because I’ve been swamped with work projects, and I haven’t yet figured out how to knit and write at the same time. Well, you never know - some day I just might! But for now? Let me tell you about these mittens.

It began with an assignment to design a pair of colourwork mittens. It had been years since I’d knitted mittens, and to be honest I did not remember the process as one I had ever enjoyed. But, thinking of it as an opportunity to dust off a dis-used skill, I took on the project. The yarn arrived. I looked at the colours. And the next thing I knew: boom! The mitten techniques came back to me straight away. But moreover I loved making them. So much so, that when I finished the sample pair, life felt conspicuously mittenless. What to do?


As I contemplated this question, my eye fell upon some yarn I had recently received from Melissa of Knitting the Stash. To explain, Melissa and I have a sort of pen-pal thing happening, only with yarn instead of letters. Every now and again she sends me yarns from the US that I am unlikely to find here, and likewise I send her European yarns which she doesn’t have access to. Making educated guesses regarding what colours and fibre content the recipient will enjoy, we seem to succeed in delighting each other. And so it was with this latest gorgeous parcel - which contained, among other things, some breed-specific undyed yarns from sources local to Melissa: a skein of brownish-taupe Shetland from Woolley Haven Farm, and a skein of cream California Red from Woolhalla Tunis. Seeing these skeins resting there together, I knew at once they were destined to become my everyday mittens.

My idea was, to make a fairly snug and dense pair of mittens with vertical stripes, in a vaguely Nordic style. The aspects I wasn’t sure about, were which style of thumb I wanted, and which of the two yarns I wanted to be dominant. So, naturally, I decided to make one of each, then figure out which I liked best.


So… In case it isn’t obvious, the mitten on the right was knitted with the cream yarn held dominant, and with a ‘peasant-style’ thumb (a.k.a. afterthought thumb, or Latvian thumb). The mitten on the left was knitted with the brown yarn held dominant, and with a gusseted thumb.

As far as aesthetics, I think the peasant-thumbed, cream-dominant mitten on the right is undoubtedly sexier (did I just call mittens sexy?). The lack of a gusset allows for a clean, streamlined look, and the cream colour’s prominence accentuates the vertical lines.

But as far as fit, the mitten on the left is by far the winner. The thumb gusset means more fabric, and, consequently, more wiggle room in the palm area. While the gusset increases disturb the otherwise perfectly parallel vertical lines, the extra stitches mean that the fabric itself does not distort with movement.

Having spent more time than I care to admit both staring at, and wearing, these mittens, I was still no closer to knowing which I preferred. And then I realised something wonderful: I have enough yarn to make one pair in each style! Looks like I have my evening’s entertainment sorted. And in any case, I think that having both pairs will be useful for demonstrating the fit of the two thumb styles, and illustrating the effects of colour dominance.

What do you think - Do you have a preferred way of knitting improv-mittens? and do you pay attention to colour dominance?