Free Pattern :: Charlevoix Mitts

I don’t know how it is where you are, but where I am, it is very cold and there is more than a foot of fresh snow on the ground and I am NOT COMPLAINING. Because I am a knitter. Which means I am happy for any excuse to: a) sit inside and knit, and b) haul out all my woolens and wear them all at once. I’ve been told that the reason I think a cold, snowy winter is so lovely is because I’m not the one that digs our cars out of the snow after it’s all over. And this is true. Because not only am I a knitter, but apparently I am also a princess. A princess who is happy to sit inside in her handknit socks with a cup of hot tea by her side and needles in her hands.

Sometimes those hands need warming up, even when I stay inside. Some people find fingerless mitts to be utterly useless; I find them to be indispensable. Especially if they are the kind that I can also pull up over my fingers while I read. Because wearing mittens inside while reading is ridiculous, but wearing fingerless mitts pulled up over your fists is not ridiculous, it is brilliant.

For Christmas, I wanted to make a special pair of fingerless mitts for my stepson’s girlfriend. She’s a massage therapist with a magical touch (she is SO GOOD, y’all), and her hands deserved something extra-special. So I spun up some prized fiber – a gorgeous silky cashmerino from FLUFF, an amazing but not currently in-business independent dyer. The fiber started like this:

FLUFF Silky Cashmerino in "Artifact"

And then I spun it into this:

light worsted 2-ply

The blues evoked for me the gorgeous Great Lakes, and the silvery browns called to mind the Petoskey stones (fossilized coral from more than 350 million years ago – and our state rock!) that can be found along the lakeshore. Lindsay is a true Michigan girl who loves the lakes and their landscape. I’m calling this simple design “Charlevoix,” after the town where she has spent a lot of happy time beach-going and rock-hunting.

Charlevoix Mitts

I never got a single picture that truly captured the yummy colors and texture of this yarn or these mitts. But as you can probably imagine, the silky cashmerino has a delicious look and feel to it. The mitts are smooth, lightweight, and slightly nubbly.

They are also the most basic possible knit – you just make a tube, as long or as short as you wish – and embellish it with a baby cable as you go.

A baby cable is the simplest cable in the world to make, and you certainly don’t need a cable needle to do it. It’s made over two stitches – every third round, you knit the two stitches together but leave them on the lefthand needle, then knit into the first stitch on the lefthand needle, then slip both stitches off. Offset by a purl stitch on either side, it’s just a sweet, simple little detail. I love baby cables!

These took about half the yarn I spun – so roughly 150 yards of light worsted – which means I have enough yarn leftover for another pair (or a matching accessory). They were extremely fast to make, too, making them perfect gift-knitting (or perfect in-between-big-project-knitting).

I’m sure you could figure out how to make these just from the pictures and my description – knit a tube, make a baby cable along one edge of it – but in case not, I’ve put together a one-page pdf explanation, which includes three sizes. You can find it for free in my Ravelry store: download now

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designed :: Whitefish Point Armwarmers

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I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve realized I’m not going to get it all done.

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I still have lots to do before Christmas, as I’m sure you do, too.
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But if making one more handknit gift is still on your list, here’s a quick one for you.

Whitefish Point Armwarmers

Whitefish Point Armwarmers

Knit in the round with fat yarn on big needles and with no thumbhole, these armwarmers are about as quick a knit as there is. I made mine out of just half a skein of Cascade Magnum (if you order it from Angelika’s today, you’ll likely have it in your hot little hands by Wednesday!) on size 15 needles.

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If you drive ten miles north of Paradise, Michigan, the road will end at Whitefish Point, a narrow peninsula that stretches several miles into Lake Superior toward Canada, in an area known as Shipwreck Coast. A concentration point for migrating birds (and one of the best places in the nation for viewing owls in the spring), Whitefish Point is remote, beautiful, wild – and cold (it is generally ten degrees colder than the rest of the eastern Upper Peninsula, due to its location jutting out into Lake Superior).
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You, however, do not have to be cold. Whether watching birds, studying shipwrecks, climbing lighthouses, or simply sipping cocoa by the fire, you can stay toasty warm in these chunky cabled armwarmers. Named for one of my favorite spots for viewing my favorite Great Lake, these mitts can be pulled up over your hands to keep out the chill or pushed up so that they simply peek out of your sleeves. They make a great first cable project. Whip up a pair tonight for a holiday gift or a treat for yourself; tomorrow night, make a matching pair of boot toppers (pattern coming soon!).
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The pattern is for sale for $3 in my pattern store on Ravelry – or you can click the “buy now” button right here and get your copy immediately.

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Butterfly Hat, Mackinac Mitts, and Craft Friday

Here is something I didn’t really appreciate until I became a knitter. Crafters love to see their creations in use. I wish I could rewind about nine years, to when my kids were wee. So many wonderful people gave us handmade baby gifts, and most of those people never got to see the gifts actually in use. In retrospect, I wish that I had snapped pics of the babes on their various knitted, crocheted, and quilted blankets, and sent those along with my thank you notes. I was a frazzled new mom of twins, though, and I was barely managing to keep everyone fed, clean, and dry (including myself!). Also, I just didn’t realize how much it might mean to the makers/givers.

But now I know – there is a particular joy that comes from knowing something you’ve made with your own hands is being both loved and used. So my heart is super warm and fuzzy looking at this picture:

my beautiful niece and great-nephew

my beautiful niece and great-nephew

That is the Butterfly Hat I made for my niece (previously shown to you on my stepson; he’s good-looking, but for some reason the pink butterfly hat didn’t seem to suit him), along with the Mackinac Mitts I designed and knit. My niece rocks pink like no one else I know. (It doesn’t hurt that she’s pretty much super-gorgeous in whatever she wears.) And her sweet five year-old is just killing me with the cute. It actually makes my heart hurt to see this picture because we live so far from each other and see each other so rarely.

By the way, if you’re knitting either the Butterfly Hat or the Mackinac Mitts, Tumped Duck just posted a tutorial last week on how to knit lifted strands with slipped stitches. It’s a great how-to, especially if you are a visual learner.

In other crafting news, have you read about Craft Friday? I am in total solidarity with this and I will NOT be doing any shopping on Black Friday. Here in Ann Arbor, lots of shops (including most of the mall) are opening on Thanksgiving Day, as well. I worked retail in high school and college, and working Black Friday filled me with a special kind of anxiety and dread; I can’t imagine how I would have handled leaving my family, including out-of-town guests we only saw once a year, before Thanksgiving dinner was even done. I guess there is no way now to turn back this tide, but I won’t participate in it. I’ll be having brunch with out-of-town family on Friday morning and then settling in for some craft time later in the day.

I hope you find some craft time, too, in the midst of these busy days!

More Mackinac Mitts (say that 10 times fast)

Thank you so much for the Mackinac Mitt love. It still surprises me how much work goes into preparing and releasing even a relatively simple pattern, and it also always feels a bit vulnerable to actually put it out there – what if people hate this thing? So, thank you so much for your nice words and your support!

I was so grateful to Jessie and Eunice for test knitting this pattern for me, (and they were both super-fast!) and I wanted you to see their gorgeous mitts, too. Jessie made hers out of Cascade 220:
Mackinac Mitts
Aren’t they lovely? I adore how those butterflies pop. She stopped after 2 1/2 repeats of the butterfly pattern, for a shorter fit on smaller hands.

Eunice shows us how the ribbed option looks (for the top of the hand and thumb):
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Hers are made in Malabrigo Worsted (Malabrigo Mackinac Mitts, now that is a mouthful!). They look so cozy!

I loved making mine out of Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd Worsted, but as you can see, any worsted or light worsted yarn will work. You probably have just the right yarn in your stash, begging to be made into butterflies and given as a holiday gift.

Remember that blog readers receive a 20% discount on this pattern through this Friday, by using the code MACKMITTS.

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. – Tagore

designed :: Mackinac Mitts

bluemitts

Just in time for holiday gift-making, a pair of fast, fun, and cozy fingerless mitts, decorated with a tiny butterfly motif.

Mackinac Mitts

Mackinac Mitts

These mitts are named for Mackinac (pronounced “Mackinaw”) Island, one of the many treasures of Michigan; Mackinac Island is a National Historic Landmark and a beautiful and popular destination for summer travel. This pattern was inspired by my trip there this summer, and specifically my visit to the Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House. I’ve always loved butterflies and butterfly houses, and my time at the Mackinac Island Butterfly House with my family felt magical. Butterflies there will come and land on your hand; with these mitts you can replicate the experience! Well, not really. But isn’t it fun to wear butterflies? Yes, yes it is.

The pattern knits up quickly in just half a skein of Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd’s Wool Worsted (a Michigan yarn!). A skein of Shepherd’s Wool comes in a generous 250 yards – plenty for a pair of mitts and a hat.

I made a pair in pink to go with the pink Butterfly Hat I knit for my niece.
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The motif on the mitts is tinier and subtler than the one on the hat, but it makes a great little set.

The mitts are designed with a rolled edge, which is one of my favorite finishes for mitts:
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I just love how a rolled edge, well, rolls:

rolled edge

rolled edge

little butterflies in my hand

little butterflies in my hand

The rolled edge is more obvious in the blue mitts because I didn’t block them before photographing (sometimes I walk on the wild side that way). But the pattern also includes directions for finishing with a ribbed edge, if you prefer.

These mitts knit up unbelievably quickly and will make a great last-minute gift for a teacher, a friend, a niece – or yourself! The pattern comes in three sizes and is available for immediate download at my shop on Ravelry. For blog readers, I’m offering a special discount code through Friday, November 22. Type in MACKMITTS when you check out, and you will receive 20% off the cost of the pattern.

A huge thank you to Jessie and Eunice for test knitting, and to Sashka for tech editing.
Look! Here are the mitts with a variety of the standard props.

mug! leaf! book!

mug! leaf! book!

I hope you like the mitts. They were very fun to make, and even more fun to wear.

Fashion Friday :: Fingerless Mitts

are you a fan of fingerless mitts?

are you a fan of fingerless mitts?

People tend to have strong feelings about fingerless mitts. I am one of them. I adore them. ADORE THEM. I know that mitts without fingers don’t make sense to some people, but I find them very useful. There are lots of time when I want my hands and wrists warm but need my fingers free – for typing in a cold office, maneuvering a key into my car door, KNITTING.

I knit my first pair in November of 2006:

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I still love this pair, though they are pretty pilly now (part of the territory of knitting with Malabrigo). This pair actually got me one of my biggest compliments ever.

I proceeded to make a pair for my friend CJ:
Voodoo wristwarmers
I still love this simple, basic pattern from Knitty (Voodoo Wrist Warmers).

One of the interesting and easy things about this pair of mitts is that you make the thumbhole as a little buttonhole – such a simple concept. So these mitts are not only fingerless, but thumbless, too. My Romney Mitts have a similar construction:
knitted :: Romney Mitts

Of course even simpler is no thumbhole at all:
YIP.10.1 - Toast
Toast, one of my first handspun projects and still one of my favorite things to wear. Four years later, and I still break them out for fall. In terms of simplicity of knitting, they can’t be beat. What could be simpler than a tube?
for Rav: Toast
And they are really practical for wearing, too. I have the use of my fingers and thumbs when I need them, but then I can pull my whole hands up inside these mitts when I want the extra warmth. I do this all the time when driving – use my fingers and thumb to start the car, pull my hands up inside before putting on the steering wheel. See how clever I am?

A couple of  years ago, I made my first pair of fingerless mitts that actually had a partially knit thumb. I really liked how these turned out.

with thumb

with thumb

Albina Armwarmers, in handspun, for a friend. I would highly recommend this pattern – it is super-customizable and a fantastic use of handspun. I love the refined look of partial thumbs with fingerless mitts.

So much so that I ended up designing a pair like this myself.

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My Shameless Mitts. Unlike a lot of fingerless mitts, I didn’t design these to finish with ribbing (though the pattern includes that option). So the thumb, like the rest of the mitt, has a bit of slouch. Again, perfect for pulling fingers and thumbs inside the mitts when not in use.

I’m currently working on another fingerless mitt design and I am really torn about which thumb option to use (no thumb is not an option – so it will either be a thumbhole or a partially knit thumb, but not ribbed). So I’m curious – what do the rest of you think about thumbs on fingerless mitts? What’s your preference for knitting, and what’s your preference for wearing? I’m really interested to know what other people think about this very pressing fashion question!

in case you didn't know, I knit
Toast, in situ. (The picture is from three years ago, I’m not on crutches now!)