…come on and double it! Doublemint, Doublemint Gum!
The perfect solution to the inability to find the perfect mitten pattern? Make up the pattern yourself! I didn’t think it would be quite so difficult to locate a “good” mitten pattern; a pattern that actually looked like a mitten (yes, there are crazy patterns out there that look nothing like what I call a mitten). A pattern of a warm-woolen mitten (sorry, but if I wanted to wear a sock on my hand, I’d wear socks on my hands). A classic mitten pattern is all I ask for! I’m certain this pattern exists out there somewhere. Have I simply just not look in the right places? Despite my heroic efforts, I’ve now cloaked myself with the dreaded cape of creating this perfect mitten.
This process is not something I find easy, or thoroughly enjoyable. Like playing piano, I’d rather have the music directly in front of me and challenge myself with the task of simply sitting down and playing it without ever having seen it before. Please don’t ask me to listen to a song and then just sit down at the piano and “play it by ear”. Or for all you bakers and kitchen gurus, I’d much rather find a yummy new recipe with all the instructions neatly laid out before me so that I can enjoy a yummy treat in a couple hours. Please don’t ask me to come up with my own recipe using a few specific ingredients.
I have a knack for sitting down with a piece of music and digging into the depth of its beauty; analyzing all the key changes and chord changes; looking at how the melodic line infers a specific dynamic contour; how a simple chord change evokes a particular emotional response and in turn a certain change in tempo. As for baking, I’ve come a long way from the days of omitting all together the oleo from a sugar cookie recipe. I’m much smarter now when it comes to omitting and substituting ingredients. You might say I’ve become a bit more adventurous in my baking, and if I say so myself, my family is all the better for it 😉
Knitting has proven to me that I operate in a very similar way. For the longest time, I just wanted a very nice, concise, well written pattern put in front of me. I loved the challenge of a new pattern I’d never seen before. A new term like ktbl or ssk didn’t scare me. I knew I could figure it out. As I’ve been knitting more and more, very much like my adventures in baking, I’ve become more comfortable taking some creative risks; increasing the size, using a different yarn type, substituting a completely different ribbing pattern; and in the case of the perfect mitten, coming up with the recipe all on my own!
This process has hurt my head. It’s been LOTS of trial and error. Using different yarns. Using different needles. Making several new gauge swatches (YOU MUST KNIT GAUGE SWATCHES!). I did, however, come up with a pattern with which I was nearly content. (you can see part of it in the picture above) The only thing that kept bugging me was the weight of the mitten. I wanted a nice thick, chunky looking mitten. I used a chunky yarn on US 7/8 needles and it was OK, but I knew I could do better. That’s when I channeled my mom’s inner knitting, and heard, “Double up!” That was it! Use two strands of yarn! I’ve never done a project with two strands before (other than a big bulky crochet afghan). But, why wouldn’t it work? And so I took out my Berraco Vintage yarn and began knitting with double strands. I LOVE IT! It’s like the first time I substituted yogurt for an oil in my banana chocolate chip muffins 😉 It really does work!
So, how does this work? Exactly as you think. I used a worsted weight yarn (Berroco Vintage). If you’re ever unsure what the weight of your yarn is, look on the back of the label. You will see a little picture of a skein of yarn with a number on it. See my 4? Wikipedia has a nice Yarn Weight Chart that will help you with some of the terms you might see in patterns regarding yarn. Once you have your yarn, simply knit as you normally would. I pulled a strand from both ends. If you’ve got a nice center pulling “cake” this works so smoothly and no tangles encountered! Voila! You’re knitting with double strands…
Moral of the story – take chances and BE CREATIVE in your knitting! Heck, let’s take chances and be creative in our lives. Let’s all try something new. It might just turn out to be the perfect mitten!