Warm Heart Mittens and Hat set
My execution is a little on the shaky side here and there, but all in all I'm really happy with how these turned out. Amazed even. If you'd told me a few months back that by the end of January I'd be doing stranded knitting on dpns of tiny mitten-sized tubes, I'd have laughed at your optimism. But it turned out not to be half as hard as I thought it'd be.
Anyway, the story goes thusly: as part of my ongoing Use-The-Stash-Not-The-Cash new year's quest, I looked around and found that I had three colors of wool-ease left-over from this project and this project. It didn't look like a whole lot (2.5 ounces?), so I thought maybe I'd see if I could make at least one mitten. So, my estimation skills, still lacking, considering that I in fact had enough to make two mittens, plus the hat, and there's even a tiny bit left-over.
Once I finished the mittens, and found I still had yarn, naturally I wanted to make a matching hat. (Especially having seen these sets in knitpicks' catalog and site a few months ago and having dismissed them as too advanced.) The charts from the mitten pattern were so amazingly easy to memorize, I didn't even have to look at my finished the mittens or the pattern while working on the hat, just went straight from memory. Which is good, because I didn't have either handy. Not having to constantly check a piece of paper may explain why the hat went so amazingly fast. I think it was around 2 or 3 hours from start to finish. I just cast on a likely sounding number (80) and worked until I had about 4.5 inches and then started doing a little dance of decreasing, and trying it on, and then decreasing some more, and trying on again, until it fit right.
For the hat cuff, I decided to do 1x1 rib rather than the stockinette that the pattern calls for on the mitten cuffs. If I ever make these mittens again, I will definitely do the 1x1 rib again, as I think that looks much nicer than the curling stockinette. I really like how the 1-row-of-purl separating line looks though, I will have to remember to use that again!
After I'd finished everything up, and whilst reading Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears I had one of those "duh!" moments. I had been looking at my newly finished hat the night before, and thinking to myself how the extra strands made the knitted fabric double-thick when the pattern was all-over like it was in this case, rather than just a little decorative band as I'd done previously. And then I read "I... came to the conclusion... that designs were originally put in Scandinavian sweaters not as ornament, but as a way of carrying two wools at once and thus making a double-thick and double- warm garment; in fact these designs were truly functional. " And the lightbulb went on, and I said, "duh!". It had never even occurred to me that all the pretty designs were actually a byproduct of the desire to make the knitted garment thicker/warmer, but it makes perfect sense. So that was my knitting revelation of the week.