My woolventures: Arched Gusset Mittens by Purl Soho

I commute on the bike, so come autumn my hands start to feel cold – especially in the mornings. Ever since I realised my knitting skills could be furthered from straight elongated shapes (i.e. scarves) to something more complex, I started picturing myself gliding elegantly through the streets wearing a pair of hand-knit gloves. Mind you, I usually wear a rather unelegant but practical red softshell jacket to cycle – to ward off the wind and the rain. Still, I had a rather vivid image of myself dressed in a skirt and a nice grey woollen coat plus bright-coloured gloves.

Soon I realized that the gloves had to be yellow. Something like this:

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Photo: Purl Soho

I think I have already mentioned that I tend  to choose patterns because of the colours the samples are knit in. The Arched Gusset Mittens by Purl Soho are yet another example. It was not only the colour though, I love how simple they are – plain stockinette – yet original with the, well, arched gusset, which imitates the natural curves of hands.

Eventually, I didn’t get started on the project though until about mid July, when in the midst of dissertation write-up crisis, I decided I needed an emergency knitting kit to carry around, just in case. You never know, when you need the soothing powers of your circular needles and a ball of yarn. This is how a skein of mustard alpaca found its way to a smallish canvas bag and in that to my backpack.

Hence, the mittens assumed something of a therapeutic role, as illustrated below. Surely, you need therapy when brushing up on your stats.

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Eventually I finished the pair of mittens in mid August (perfect timing, eh?), right before leaving on our fabulous and well deserved holidays in Italy.

And now, dear friends, with my dissertation finished and November turning chilly, I might even find an occasion to dress my imaginary cycling outfit and wear them!

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Pattern: Arched Gusset Mittens by Purl Soho

Yarn: ~0.7 skein of Drops Alpaca (in colourway 2923 – golden rod)

Needles: 3.5 mm (knitted in size adult large to get adult small)

Note: This was the first time ever that I worked a thumb gusset. Despite following the pattern instructions, I found that it is not really possible to do this without ending up having a hole at the stem of the thumb. This blog post gives some useful tips for avoiding gusset holes. Eventually, what I did was to I pick up one additional stitch on the side of the centre stitch at the stem of the thumb, which then I worked into the following round as k2tog.

My woolventures: Hermaness worsted

Knitting hats or beanies is probably most knitters’ favourite thing. Depending on the pattern, it can be a no-brainier or pose some challenge, allowing to learn some new technique, stitch pattern or design element. Regardless of the difficulty, though, any project can be completed in a day or over a weekend, bringing instant satisfaction. Plus no seaming is necessary.

I myself love beanies – and sometimes think it is a shame that I don’t really live in a climate where wearing beanies is absolutely necessary. As a matter of fact, I mostly use them to keep my head warm when my hair is wet – when walking home from the pool or heading for some drinks after a run+shower. Regardless I simply cannot resist the temptation and keep making them.

After having successfully made the L’Arbre hat designed by Cirilia Rose and made available as the second Fringe hatalong I had had my eye on the Gudrun Johnston’s Hermaness Worsted, the 3rd pattern in the series. I had even had the yarn, which by coincidence I had acquired to swatch for the same designer’s Little Wave cardigan. The project had been on hold though for quite some time.

Finally, last weekend, as I was heading to Amsterdam, I decided it was time to cast on. Currently I’m working on a version of the aforementioned cardigan (with a different yarn) as well as a Carpino sweater by Carol Feller. Both projects seem to take an eternity to complete, plus at their current state, they are already a bit too bulky (to my liking) to carry around, and especially to work on while in my not to spacious seat in-flight.

I cast on while waiting for my connection in Madrid and completed the ribbing, as well as started the lace pattern on the flight. The rest of the hat was finished over a peaceful weekend of knitting and reading (on my brand new Kindle paperwhite – which I’m just loving, and which now poses a serious threat to my knitting time). Some knitting was even done on the train while on our way to Hoorn.

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I have to say I really enjoyed this pattern. It is much is fun to knit – rather refreshing in the midst of aiming to finish up the stockinette sleeves of the Carpino. Easy enough to memorize, but also entertaining. And I’m completely in love with the result! The shape and the size of the hat are just perfect. Now I’m sort of intrigued to see how the original version of the beanie knitted in fingering weight yarn might turn out. But that should most probably wait…

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Pattern: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston

Yarn: ~1.7 skeins of Drops Nepal (in colourway 500 – pearl grey)

Needles: 4 mm and 4.5 mm

My very first pattern

The first half of October is already gone, and as of now I haven’t quite managed to learn much blogging discipline. I guess it might have to do with my research background. When you do research you do not tend to write – and definitely not publish – anything until you have read and mulled over much of what is out there. Of course this is impossible, that is why research is so disappointing sometimes. And blogging bears certain similarities.

Apart from this, I’ve also been away from home for about a week now, since we came over to the Budapest marathon, and spent the good part of this past week sightseeing in almost complete holiday mode.

Eventually, I managed to spend the last two days entirely in the company of my laptop, trying to catch up on work, blogging and knitting projects. In this time, I was  able to force myself to finally attempt to write up a pattern in publishable format.

The pattern and the knitted object actually involve a few (almost) firsts. It is a pair of fingerless mittens which sport a polka dot pattern and an afterthought thumb. I knitted it back around February for a friend. This was very much at the beginning of my knitting career, therefore it represented my first afterthought thumb, my second colour work knit, one of my first projects using the magic loop technique… Luckily at the time I made fairly decent notes, so that, even though I don’t have the finished object anymore (it is literally in the other and of the world… in Wellington, NZ), I was able to write up the instructions in case anyone might be interested to make them. If you are just the person, click here to download the pattern.

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Another knitting venture undertaken over the last week or so involved the Portuguese Beiroa yarn from Retrosaria. Somehow the story and concept of Retrosaria have been on my mind for a good few months. I guess the leaving academia for researching traditional yarn making and knitting as Rosa did could not have been more attractive over the last few months of my dissertation write up. In any case, I was dying to try this single spun rustic wool yarn, both because of its story and because of the gorgeous colour and promising texture.

What I made out of it is another story – to be revealed hopefully soon enough – but I must say I cannot wait to try it on other projects. The fairly uneven looking yarn knits up nicely to create a rather even and strong fabric. It is not exactly smooth (although I haven’t blocked it, which presumably helps), but feels like something very desirable to wear indeed.

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