Thursday, February 08, 2007

Oh, frabjous day!

My father-in-law's shagged mittens -- meant to be a present for Christmas 2005 -- are finally done:

They are immense. I have put one of my (ladies' large) gloves beside them for scale. Looking at them I can't believe that they will fit a human hand. But they do fit my husband's hands just fine, and he assures me that his dad's hands are the same size.

The pattern comes from Robin Hansen's wonderful Flying Geese & Partridge Feet, which includes all kinds of unusual mitten-making techniques alongside the more usual ones. (The book is out of print. Patterns from it and her wonderful first mitten book Fox & Geese & Fences have been combined to produce Favorite Mittens: Best Traditional Patterns from Fox & Geese & Fences and Flying Geese & Partridge Feet, but I don't know whether the oddball stuff is included.)

I had the book with me on a family vacation in August 2005, and I showed Roy this page, saying, "Aren't these cool?"

They were used for driving teams of horses to pull the logs out of the woods. Here's a picture of a fancy pair for showing off while sleigh-driving:

Roy's reaction astounded me. "Those are great," he said. "They'd be perfect when I'm using the snow-blower." He and my mother-in-law waxed eloquent on this subject for quite a while. So my course was clear: I had to make a pair.

The base mitten is just your average mitten, although supersized for Roy's hands. I made it out of Classic Elite's Tapestry, a worsted-spun wool & mohair blend, for comfort and durability. Unfortunately I used a black yarn. The other color I had on hand was a sort of pea green. Black's great, I thought. It'll hide dirt.

I finished the base mittens well before Christmas 2005. But when I started the shagging I discovered the flaw in my plan.

If you ever get a hankering to make a pair of these mittens, DO NOT USE BLACK YARN. I can't stress this enough. The technique requires that you sew a loop of yarn around each stitch. That's much easier if you can see the freakin' stitch.

In order to work on these mittens I had to have a spotlight trained on the knitting -- so much for portability. And this technique, while interesting to read about, is rather extremely boring to do. Have I mentioned that these mittens are large?

By Christmas 2005 I had the first mitten about 1/3 shagged. (I used Brunswick's Germantown worsted weight wool, in what I thought was blue but what turned out to be sort of purple one it was trimmed -- go figure.) I showed it to Roy apologetically, and (subtly, I hope) checked to make sure that he still wanted them. He sure did. He told me about the mittens he had bought that were just not doing the job. I promised to keep going, and I did, sporadically. I gave up when the crocuses bloomed. And I didn't pick them up soon enough this fall to get them done in time for Christmas 2006.

But now they are done. And they're pretty cool. You can't do much while wearing them, since it's like wearing carpets on your hands. In fact, it's kind of hard to get the second mitten on. Still, they are very warm and very comfortable - having the lining on the outside makes them somehow feel less bulky next to your skin. I hope Roy loves them...but I hope he never wants another pair!

(Thanks to This American Life for free webcasts, without which these mittens would never have been finished.)

1 comment:

mikelynn said...

Those look great! I don't think I would have the patience.