Hello, dear readers! Perhaps you've already seen this design up on flickr or ravelry - it's been out there in the world for exactly a week now. What with my absolutely ridonk work schedule this quarter (I sort of have four jobs right now? How did that happen?) I haven't had time to post the write-up that these mittens deserve until now.
The idea for these mittens came to me after two significant events occurred just before Christmas: I had the good fortune to be asked to teach a couple classes on specific designs at my most favorite yarn store on earth, and I stumbled across this picture of a spectacularly beautiful thumb gusset. As any Twin Peaks fan worth her salt knows, "when two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object in inquiry we must always pay strict attention." I wanted that thumb gusset, and I wanted it bad, so the obvious thing to do here was for me to work up a new mitten pattern with a similar gusset for my classes at Loopy.
The lovely people at Loopy mentioned that they particularly like the braided cuff on my Frank mittens. I love the look of Latvian braids as well, and it's the kind of technique that's great for a knitting class: written explanations for braids always seem confusing to me, but the method is easily demonstrated and learned visually. I also included a corrugated cuff so students who weren't experienced with stranded knitting could get used to working with two colors before they would get to the body of the mitten, where consistent tension is a bit more important.
And then came the gusset. While I had a pretty good idea that the beloved gusset I saw on flickr was made with M1 increases, I wanted to see more of an in-depth explanation of it. I searched around online and, well, didn't find a whole lot of information about this style of gusset. I did come across what appears to be a very useful tutorial but - oops - it's in Finnish. You know what happens when you try to google translate a Finnish knitting tutorial? "Take 2 17 P. electrode holder to wait as with normal peukalokiilassa. Slide 1 needle half of the coils 2 needle, when each needle is again the right amount. Knit mitten normally end." Electrodes? On my KNITTING?! Okay so that didn't work so well. Nevermind the translation - the tutorial has some good pictures so I was able to get the gist of how to shape that gusset.
And oh am I ever pleased with the results! If you look at the gusset and compare it to your hand you'll notice that the increases run pretty much along your lifeline, following the contours of the human hand. It's a great fit - something that's especially important in stranded knitting, which isn't as stretchy or flexible as regular knitting.
Finally, since I chose a bulky weight yarn for this pattern (Cascade 128 - it's squishy and, like all Cascade yarns, widely available in a million and one fantastic colors) I was somewhat limited in what I could accomplish with the colorwork. Obviously mittens worked in bulky yarns basically are the same size, but have fewer stitches than their fine-gauged counterparts. As a result of this you can't create smooth, intricate designs. I had recently finished a pair of Elli's awesome Sprigs, which got me thinking about big, bulky colorwork motifs. In the end I decided to put one big, graphic star, placed off-center on the back of the hand, and I'm pleased with the bold simplicity of this look. One of the women in my current Macro Mitts class suggested that I could put other images in the spot where the star is, like a heart, shamrock, whatever else my strike your fancy... I absolutely LOVE this idea and as soon as I get 5 or 10 free minutes I want to see if I can make up some alternate charts.
So all that said, here are the deets on the Macro Mitts: they're worked in two colors of Cascade 128 on US 9s, to make a mitten with an 8" circumference. As I generally find to be the case with stranded mittens, the easiest way to adjust the size of the finished product is to play with needle size and yarn choice. I suspect a lot of women in particular would like a slightly smaller mitten, so for some tips about making a smaller size (using smaller needles and worsted weight yarn), check out my e-bff Minty's test knit right over here.
See the Macro Mitts on the rav, or for a mere $5: