In the summer of 2000 I decided to knit mittens for all of my nieces and nephews. At the time there were seven of them, and that didn't seem like too big a project. I knit up a bunch of single mittens in varying sizes, and took them on our summer vacation. I gathered the kids together, handed them the mittens, and told them to pick one that fit and that they liked, or to find one that fit and tell me what one they wished fit. I had lots of interchangeable colors of sportweight yarn and Robin Hansen's two wonderful mitten books. It was great fun. We were all staying in a cabin together and they carried the mittens around for a couple of days, choosing and changing their minds and choosing again. Later that summer we saw the kids on the other side of the family, and I had them pick as well.
Of course I didn't finish all the mittens by Christmas, but I did get many of them done, and the rest soon after. Because I was in a rush, though, there are no pictures of the mittens as a group. There are quite a few glimpses of them, here and there, on one child after another. Here are some that we gathered up five years later:
Yes, Chipman's block is one of my favorite patterns, how could you tell? It's so easy, and so pretty, and such a short repeat that you can modify it to fit anyone.
The mittens on the right are Mattie Owl's Patch, which is very similar to Fox & Geese but in my opinion much prettier. Knitting both mittens the same summer led me to compare them as I hadn't before. Mattie Owl's Patch is an 8 stitch repeat which is less convenient than Fox & Geese's six stitch repeat but it's worth it. I'm not sure I can find a picture of the two to show you, though.
The mittens in the center come from Rose W. Anderson's Mittens pamphlet, published in 1939. I made one cross country skier and one downhill skier, sometime around 1990. There's a lot of weaving in to make all that white space around the skiers, but I think it's worth it. The palms have a small all-over pattern. I'll never again knit a cuff with narrow stripes of color on a white background, though; it reminds me too much of athletic socks. Fortunately my sister wears the cuffs folded up.
Those mittens are still in use, as are the yellow & purple Mattie Owl's Patch pair. They were made for my nephew who is now 12; my 4 year old daughter is wearing them this winter:
(She looks bemused because she's not sure what this white stuff is.)
And the red and white pair saw some use, too:
To be honest, I like knitting mittens more than socks. They last longer and you don't need a new pair every day. If only I lived someplace where they weren't an optional winter accessory! Perhaps it's time for another Summer of Mittens.