Norne fingerless mitts

We may be heading towards summer, but this didn’t stop me from casting on a pair of Mette Lea’s Norne fingerless mitts for a very dear friend last April. Knit on size 2 DPNs, these mitts are full of delightful details: braided cables along the front, broken-ribbed palms (k2 p2 rows alternate with a row of knit stitches), a stockinette thumb-gusset, and a garter-stitch ‘stripe’ down the side of the thumb for subtle interest. At 6.5 stitches to the inch, the mitts knit up snug and, I think, are pretty sleek. This pattern has made me a fingerless mitten lover.

I used Knitpicks’ Galileo in the Dragonfly colourway. 2 50g skeins were more than enough. Galileo is a Merino-bamboo blend that surprised me with its smoothness and lustre – great for getting those cables to pop and catch light.

The knitting in progress above benefited from the newly returned April sunshine.

By mid-month, the mitts were finished and wet-blocked:

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Blocking ribbing + cables:  one effect of wet-blocking, I noticed, is that ribbing tends to flatten out a little bit (I used almost no pins, and no pressure). For an already-snug glove, a little extra wiggle-room from the flattened ribbing was OK, but I’ve made a note to tread very lightly when blocking ribbing in the future.

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Pre-blocked (left) the broken-ribbing is ‘ribbier’ and more dimensional. After wet-blocking and very minimal pinning (right) the ribbing has flattened out.

I found that wet-blocking, strangely, had the opposite effect on the cables. The braided cables evened out and came to life after their soak. I was a bit concerned that the blocking would texturally blur them out, so I was really happy to see the opposite effect. Norne mitts were the perfect project for learning about wet-blocking different textures.

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Tension:  just as I “can’t step into the same river twice,” neither, it seems, can I knit the same fingerless mitten twice (at least not with my current skills!). The first mitten ended up a bit tighter than the second one. The tension difference isn’t visually apparent, but one feels it when the mitts go on.

I followed the pattern pretty closely on both mitts – stitch-wise, they’re identical. I do remember, though, being much more cautious and careful when working the first mitt, then relaxing and loosening my grip on the second one, having eased into a familiarity with the pattern and cables. Apparently, the knitting registered all of those shifts in learning, concentration, and relaxation. The lesson, it seems, is that in knitting, we are also swatching ourselves!

All the signs of summer are returning to my little corner of the city: the neighbourhood lawn mowers are revving, the iced cappuccino dog walkers are out and about, and one hears the slow invasion of flip flop sandals and night-time wind chimes through open windows again.

I look forward to taking my needles outdoors, and can think of nothing better than mixing up a batch of sangria, soaking in some rays, and spending some quality time with friends and the knitting fairies.

Wishing you many happy hours of making this week!

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Scrap yarn: Garter stitch fingerless mittens

Because sometimes you need something midway between mitten and no-mitten

These mitts were my very first knit since picking up my needles again last month.

The yarn above is scrap yarn that I had mysteriously been saving since high school. Through multiple transnational/local re-locations (9 moves over the past 8 years), this yarn seemed always to find its way into my new home despite moving sales, giveaways, and my sometimes drastic attempts to clear the clutter and get organized. Stranger still, the yarn persistently followed despite the fact that I was not actively knitting at all during those years.

When I finally used the yarn for these mittens a little while ago, I began to reflect on its story: I remembered that it is the leftover of a scarf that I made in 10th grade for a beloved art teacher who took notice of my knitting hobby and encouraged an awkward teen to keep at it: a knitter herself, she gave me my very first set of double-pointed needles, a mitten pattern, and 3 skeins of beautiful wool. It was an unexpected, incredible, incredible gift (thank you, Mrs. Valerio!). I knit her a scarf shortly after, and was so thrilled to see Mrs. V wearing it at school.

I’m sure this is why the skein traveled with me all those stitch-less years. It was the other half of that knitting memory, waiting to find a touch-point again – a memory that knitting helped me to recollect (or should I say, unravel?). I hope these mittens have given it a new and proper home.