March 03, 2008

Cool Birds

Behold, the Bird in Hand mittens in action:


The flowery backs of the hands.


The mitten palms.


Check out the birdies!

Project Details:

Pattern: The delightful Bird in Hand mittens by Kate Gilbert. The pattern is well-written and easy to follow. And, oh so cute!

Yarn: Cascade 220, one skein each in Brown (No. 8686) and Lime Heather (No. 9461) purchased from the nice folks at

Needles: Grafton Fibers Darn Pretty Needles in US size 2.

Mods: None really. I did shorten the thumb by one row because it was getting a bit long.

Overall, I enjoyed wearing these mittens. They kept my hands nice and toasty on this cold ski day. The thumbs are a little long, which I noticed when grabbing ski poles but probably wouldn't otherwise. I might wear them again today!

February 25, 2008

Watch the Birdie

The last time I tried to proudly show off my bird, at least one-half of you failed to see the birdie which is the star of the Bird in Hand mittens. Now, I blame two things for this: my poor embroidery skills and the fact that I'd attempted to do the bird bits after I had already knitted the thumb closed.

This time, I am taking no chances. Birdie, step by step.


First, on goes the beak. Last time I used green for the beak, which resulted in camouflage birdie. This time, we are going with a stylish orange on the theory that, if I were a bird I'd want an orange beak.


Next, today's bird needs legs. I thought about black legs, but the orange won out again.


A little eye action, a suggestion of a wing. By golly, its a bird!**

**Now, I acknowledge the possibility that one person's artfully realized bird is another person's formless blob. But if you don't see the bird this time, I'm thinking you just don't want to.

February 04, 2008

Mitten Motivation

I've started the second Bird in Hand mitten.


And, although the pattern is still nicely written and the mitten extremely cute, I'm having motivation issues. Could this have something to do with it?


I associate heavy mittens like these with snow shoveling the driveway, or snowshoeing on freshly fallen powder. Instead, we rode our tandem bicycle this weekend.

Not that its been WARM around here, but absent extreme conditions I run around in my fingerless mitts. No snowstorms equals a wandering eye when it comes to my knitting time. You know what the Birds are wishing for, don't you?

January 14, 2008

One Bird

Tipped off early as I was to the snowstorm that is currently outside, I resolved to return to the Bird In Hand mittens that I temporarily dumped in favor of the seductive Chocolate Monkey socks.


And, the back with the bird on it. I have no illusions that a singleton mitten is going to be at all useful in the snow shoveling that it is come later. Still, I am happy for its arrival.

It fits me just fine, but once again I have to note the quirks of row gauge in fully charted fair-isle designs. I knit this mitten on US size 2 needles and didn't check my gauge until just now, as I am writing about the finished mitten. I figured trying the mitten on as I went would tell me all that I needed to know. Turns out, that my stitch gauge is 7.33 st/in, when the smallest size (which I wasn't going for) specifies 7.25 st/in. This surprised me. I have a big hand and the finished size (just about eight inches around) fits about right despite the smaller stitch gauge.

I also have really long fingers (and long fingernails on top of that). Also, I usually knit with a compressed row gauge (more rows per inch that most patterns call for). Yet, the hand part of the mitten is just perfectly long enough, and the thumb part of the mitten is just a hair too long, even though I cut out one charted row during the decreases at the thumb top. From this, I'm going to guess that many folks knitting this for shorter hands with a "normal" row gauge might be getting longer mittens than anticipated. And there is really no way to modify a too-long mitten because every row is part of the colorwork pattern until you get to the very tippy-top.

The unpredictable interplay between stitch gauge and row gauge is, I think, a real issue of which knitters of charted fair isle patterns need to be aware. Each person picks up the sticks and the string and forms their stitches in a highly individual way. Just because you can match stitch gauge doesn't mean you can match row gauge...ever, no matter how many needle sizes you try out. Changing needle sizes to fix stitch gauge can totally bollox up row gauge, and vice versa. No designer, no matter how talented and diligent, can warn against all the possible ways that stitch gauge and row gauge can combine to screw you.

You, dear knitter of charted fair-isle, must think this out for yourself. If you've never done charted fair-isle before, then you have no. information. about your individual row gauge issues. I'd suggest that a mitten like this pattern is absolutely the perfect place to start learning about your own personal quirks. The Bird in Hand pattern is a great one to start on because the end product is quickly made and extremely cute.

Just don't ask your spouse whether the bird looks like a bird. Ask me how I know this.

January 02, 2008


I don't think I really need new mittens. But I'd been lusting after Kate Gilbert's Bird In Hand mittens since seeing Julia's lovely version.

Now to pick the colors. I knew that I wanted something different and more subtle, and that I didn't want a white accent yarn. I consulted Silvia who is much better with color combos than I, and she suggested this one.


Mitten front.


Mitten back.

This is Cascade 220, one skein each of Brown (No. 8686) and Lime Heather (No. 9461) purchased from the nice folks at If you check out their extensive online color card, you can see Silvia's alternate color thoughts, which were Japanese Maple/Green Apple and Brown/Summer Sky Heather.

I'm knitting this on my US size 2 DPNs Darn Pretty Needles. Although I haven't checked my gauge (the mittens fit me, that's all I care about) these mittens will be knit so tightly that they'll stand up by themselves. That, I believe, is a good thing for mittens intended for snow shoveling.

January 26, 2006

Yeah, It's Blue...So?

It can't be all orange, all the time.


This delightfully soft pair of mitts is made with Karabella Boise -- an almost sinful blend of mostly cashmere and the rest merino. The price is commeasurate with the materials. You'd have to have pretty deep pockets to think about making a large garment with this stuff, nice as it is.

I enjoyed knitting with it, but I'd warn that the yarn is fragile (as one might expect considering that cashmere and merino are both fine, very short fibers) and splits somewhat easily. I had one false start on the first mitt and the yarn only barely survived the frogging. I knew after that, that this here was a one shot deal if I expected the yarn to survive.

Of course, given the foregoing I have serious concerns about wear. But my friend for whom I made these has major issues with wool, so I thought the high cashmere content would actually get her to wear them, short life span or no. I've got almost half the ball left over, but after weighing it on the Drug Dealer's Scale the sad conclusiion is there is not enough left over for a second pair. Suggestions anyone for a way to use up the rest?


Pattern: The pattern is this one in the ribbed version, albeit heavily modified by moi. The gauge of the Boise was quite a bit smaller than the worsted weight yarn for which the pattern is written, so I increased both the stitch count and the row count to make the mitts big enough. My main modification is picking up stitches around the thumb area and knitting up a proper half thumb with 2x2 ribbing on the top to hold it close. I also add length to the mitt so that it comes up a bit further on the fingers.

Needles: Crystal Palace Bamboo double points in U.S. size 2.

Yarn: As mentioned above, 1 ball of Karabella Boise with not quite half the skein left over.

December 16, 2005

Dear Fingerless Mitts

Dear Fingerless Mitts:

I think this is goodbye. I've looked high and low, in every pocket for you two guys. All I find is emptiness. We've had good times together. You, keeping my hands warm. Me, admiring your tweedy goodness. But, I have to accept that you've moved on. I hope you are together, and that someone has found you that will love you and wear you proudly (that is, after a good washing). Be free Fingerless Mitts! Travel the world and have adventures!

But, dear Fingerless Mitts, my hands are cold and no-one or nothing is irreplaceable.

Is it way too Thriller to wear just one?

See, before I accepted the hard fact that you guys were well and truly gone, I had the chance to stop by the yarn shop and buy another ball of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK to clone you. But I was still in denial and passed. When I finally accepted the truth, some handspun languishing in the Fiber Room volunteered for the job. This never-ending pile of handspun has already turned into this and this. And there's still more left.

So after maybe one more knitting evening, there will be a pair of new fingerless mitts born to replace you. Do you think I should sew a label with my name in them like the kindergarten kids have? Wait. Don't answer that.

Love, your former hands,


EDITED TO ADD: Thing the first: The Fingerless Mitts are found! Although they might be miffed that I tried to break up with them and they may want to stay at Rosemary's house where I so rudely left them.

Thing the second: PEOPLE THERE IS CHOCOLATE SOAP!! I'm telling you guys this only after I placed my own order. Sorry, but its a cruel, cruel world.

December 19, 2004

Holiday Spirit?

Doubtless this comes as no great shock, but were you searching the web for breathless holiday/Christmas excitement you won't find it here. Want to see the extent of holiday decorations chez Claudia? Click away.

I don't hate Christmas....its actually rather pleasant. But the gy-normous tree/reindeer shaped lights/frantic mall trolling/frenzied stocking stuffing/forced merriment thing leaves me quite unmoved. Really, I feel rather lucky to come naturally by this state. The way I see it, every day is a celebration -- no need for especially one day of it.

See? I told you. Lucky.

That said, it sure is entertaining to watch folks like Yarn Harlot holiday up a storm and read folks like Gaile write up a sizzling rant. Why, this alone is almost worth the constant cheesy Chia Pet commericals.

To whoever asked whether Neo Rogue would be done in time for Christmas, I give you this picture taken today:

A clue that I think a picture is boring....the addition of sheep. A good sheep cures all.

Um. Probably not.

While I was out buying Silvia's present, I seized upon another ball of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK for an encore pair of fingerless mitts.

Yep, sheep again.

I've worn the first pair lots since making them, and since that pair has found a new home, time for another.

Lastly, the husband has been whining about his lack of sock-age (he is hardly deprived, but whining must be fun for him) and he picked out yarn from the sock basket for another pair. Yup. All by himself.

Now, on to answer the million dollar question: will Claudia write holiday cards or knit? Don't hurt yourselves mulling that one over.