Elinor Brown Knits

Knitting Designs by Elinor Brown

Category: mittens

All thrums

After knitting my first pair of thrummed mittens for Aaron last winter, I swore off knitting any more. It took me an entire evening to make enough thrums for the pair of mittens and then, I found knitting them in too tedious for my taste. The resulting mitten is to die for, however, especially amid the bitter cold of winter. I wore Aaron’s mittens over some neoprene gloves on my early morning runs all last winter.

Sometimes, fiddly knitting is worth it.

The other day, I was raving about these mittens when I realized it was time to make another pair. With any luck, they will be ready for the weekend!

Boston Mitten Party

Another season, another knitterly meetup! This weekend, I met some dear friends in Boston for a knitting reunion, of sorts. We knit cowls like mad for our weekend in Philadelphia last spring but this time around, it was all about mittens. Sarah, Minty, Jennie, Megan, Julia V, Pam, Julia F, Nova, Ashley and I descended upon Boston knitters Maritza, Diana and Caro. Sadly, Staci, Meg and Christy couldn’t make it. However, Christy sent us happy and sad faces of herself so we carried her pictures around with us and photographed her doing peculiar things. Many local Boston area knitters came out to join the fun too! It was great to see Kathy, Maryse, Danielle, Femiknitmafia, Amy, Stitchy, Melissa, Kellee Adrian and Jess. I am sure I missed someone because so many people came! Of course, a knitblogger meetup of this size required a trip to WEBS, the overwhelming warehouse of yarn in Northampton. I exercised great restraint and managed to leave only $25 poorer.

On Thursday, I will post photos of the beautiful mittens Pam made me! As it is, I cannot seem to get the raw images off my camera so it will have to wait until I get home. But trust me on this one, Pam outdid herself on this pattern!

Pam made me some really badass mittens

I designed some very simple argyle mittens for Julia Vesper. Let us call them Vespergyle mittens, shall we?

Vespergyle Mittens

Vespergyle Mittens

Pattern: Vespergyle Mittens (Ravelry link)

Yarn: Harrisville New England Shetland

Needles: US 1.5

Click here for the free pattern!

On wool

Ivy League Vest

Last winter, it became clear that I would not be able to continue my half marathon training without warmer clothing. Specifically, I needed better coverings for my head and hands. I walked into the local outdoor gear shop looking for the appropriate accessories. Now, some of you will point out the contradiction of a knitter buying synthetic mittens. This point was not lost on me; I felt appropriately ashamed but cold, nevertheless. Actually, I had decided my enemy was not cold, it was wind. Not only that, but who wants to knit mittens to cover sweaty hands during a long run? Not I.

So there I stood, talking to a salesman about the accessories to buy. He showed me some brand name, very expensive hats to block the wind. Neoprene, polypropylene, wind-block fleece, all materials designed to keep you warm. When I said I needed something specifically for a long run-a run lasting about two hours-he quickly abandoned the hats he’d shown me, instead turning to a different line. The answer, he said, was wool. Specifically, a $50 wool hat whose materials had been specially engineered to keep one warm in the cold and provide enough ventilation to prevent overheating. What did he mean by specially engineered materials, I asked. Isn’t that just what wool does? Generations of sheep represent the only technological innovators on this front, as far as I was concerned.

I’m not saying there is no room for technical fabrics. After all, I would never be able to run through the winter without fleece-lined, polypropylene tights. However, it is clear to me that no amount of human engineering can compete with thousands of years of selective pressure on sheep to produce the most effective insulation from the cold.

I need not tell you how I made it through the rest of the winter, of course. I am cheap and unabashedly so. I dug out an old wool hat I knitted years ago and stole the tufted mittens I knit for Aaron. To my amazement, 5 a.m. runs in -15 degree weather were no big deal. Actually, to be completely honest, the 5 a.m. part was still a big deal but the bitter cold was not.

I’ve been considering this experience lately, as it comes time to find Beatrix some warm winter clothes. I decided to design a heavy wool jacket for her as a cheap alternative to a winter coat. In fact, I find some of my heaviest wool sweaters far warmer than my biggest parka. Although my sense of parental guilt will likely drive me to the store this winter to buy her a coat she’ll quickly outgrow, I hope this heavy sweater lasts her two winters.

Grow Like a Weed Jacket

Last week, I sent the pattern to a handful of test knitters. Hopefully, I will be able to offer it to you soon!

In the meantime, I have some stealth mittens under way at the moment. I will certainly share them with you next week when they have met their intended recipient. Until then, I’ll leave you with the beginnings of Bryant’s Slipover vest (Ravelry link), a project I’m knitting for my cousin Ida. I promised to knit this last year but I found myself sidetracked by other things. Since I will be seeing Ida in Boston next week, I decided to finish it so I could leave it with her! Wish me luck on that one, the gauge is 7.5 sts/in and I’ve not yet reached the waist.

Pretty slipped stitch pattern or 1970s uphostery?

FO: Thrummed Mittens

Thrummed Mittens

Pattern: from Yarn Forward

Yarn: 1 skein Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted in Onyx and about 2.5 oz bluefaced leicester fleece? roving? I take pride in not knowing the difference.

Thrummed Mittens

The end product is great. These will be the warmest mittens Aaron will ever have. The pattern is well written.

Now, for the rest of it. While this was an interesting (and stashbusting) project, the novelty soon wore off. I loathe Lamb’s Pride. I bought a few skeins of this as a relatively new knitter – before I knew better – and it’s just been stewing in stash for about 8 years. I hate that it’s a single ply, that it pills if you look at it funny, that it felts whether you’d like it or not, that it’s so very hairy. Its only redeeming quality is that it is no longer in my stash.

Thrummed Mittens

As for the thrums, I made 161 of them per mitten. In the process, I covered my living room in a fine layer of sheep fuzz. Realizing that my thrums looked remarkably like the clumps of undercoat that Petunia leaves all over our house, I decided to work in one, “personalized” Petunia thrum on the thumb. I couldn’t help it. The sad thing is that I probably should have just combed the dog out instead of buying fiber!

I’ve been hoping to finish up some of my UFOs this week so that I can start on the Ivy League Vest from the Winter 07 Interweave Knits. I bought some Harrisville New England Shetland at my LYS last week, swapping blues for the teal and loden. Glenna has a nice one going and she’s inspired me to give it a try.

Ivy League Vest

You will have to look elsewhere for 2007 retrospectives and 2008 resolutions. You saw the projects, you know what I made this year. You also know that I will not likely knit exclusively from my stash for the next year so why pretend? I am looking forward to a new 2008 project gallery set in Flickr, the beginning of a new semester and an end to media hype about year-in-reviews (Talk of the Nation today? a complete waste of air time), resolutions and diets. I wish you all the best in 2008!

Hand Knits in Action

Thank you for all of the sweet comments about my DROPS cardigan! In spite of a few quibbles with it, I am quite pleased with the outcome! And the yarn! Oh, the yarn. You all need some Queensland Kathmandu DK Tweed. Did I mention that it’s the same as Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed? I suspected as much but a trip to my LYS confirmed it: the Jo Sharp yarn color numbers are exactly the same as the Queensland color numbers. Coincidence? I doubt it.

I thought I’d distract you this morning with some hand knits in action:


This Bea Ellis hat and Lamb’s Pride scarf I made Aaron are the only things I’ve knit him that see reliable wear. To be fair, they’re the only things I’ve knit him that are very nice. You should see this sweater I made him pre-blog – it’s positively hideous. In any case, his gloves aren’t very warm and I thought I would make him a pair of thrummed mittens for nighttime dog walking. He’s long maintained that mittens are far inferior to gloves in terms of dexterity but then again, dog walking requires little of that. And certainly, there will be very little range of motion in these babies. I got the idea from Jenna and then Pam had to go and cast on for some and, well, here you go.

Thrummed Mittens

In a rash of vacation startitis, I also cast on a few more projects. At least the rest of you can blame holiday knitting. I swore off that this year so I have no excuse. Below, a top-down raglan in Beaverslide wool and the second Drunken Bee to match the sock Stella so ably knit for me. I keep casting on for more because none of these are (yet) purse projects. The sweater was ideal until it grew too big to fit in the purse. The sock was great for the ribbing but I haven’t yet memorized the pattern and so I can’t knit and do anything else. The mitten pattern is easy to memorize and nice and portable but the thrums are decidedly not easily transportable.

Top-Down Raglan

The Second Sock Challenge

I’m not even going to add these to my Ravelry project list until they’re done because I don’t really want to see my WIP list go up. What denial, eh?