Hey knitters, this one’s for you! Knitting is one of my very favorite hobbies in the world. I love it. If I had to pick a favorite project it would be a close race between minisweaters that I posted on a while ago, and yummy juicy Norwegian mittens. It works, though, because mini-sweaters take me a night and mittens? Well, I kind of pour a little bit of my soul in each pair and “soul pouring” doesn’t happen quickly.
Years ago I became friends with an amazingly talented girl, named Sabine, who is from Norway. She taught me about the Norwegian style of knitting and the history behind it. I was hooked! The first pair was really hard and I thought it would probably be my only pair. HA! Boy was I wrong. The more I learned the more I loved it. I won’t go into all of the Scandinavian history but it’s really cool. After a while I started making my own patterns based on designs that are centuries old, mixed with things I see here and there. So here’s a little glimpse at all that.
First, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, here you go!
And here is a picture of some of my very favorite people wearing them. Aren’t they cozy (the mittens), and gorgeous (my friends)?
It all starts with old Norwegian patterns I have, some pictures of really old Norwegian sweaters, mittens and scarves, and a folder of pictures I have on my computer. Here’s my confession. I take pictures of people without them knowing it. Actually, I take really close up pictures of portions of their sweaters or hats then I go home and figure out the pattern on graph paper so I can use it later. I know, weird, but there you go. It’s me we’re talking about after all. Here’s an example of one covert operation.
Norwegian mittens have a larger, bolder design on the back of the hand, a simpler design (so your fingers don’t get caught up in the stranding) on the palm, and a totally different design on the thumb. Here is an example of a pattern all written up.
Sometimes people get overwhelmed by looking at the overall mitten but it’s really not hard when you look at it row by row, and stitch by stitch. Patterns are read from right to left, and from bottom to top. So you just follow the row along and every time there is an “x” you knit cream and every time there is an empty square you knit your base color.
Okay, so I have my pattern. From there I grab really quality worsted weight wool in cream and some other color. Often it’s dark red because it’s traditional, and I love it! I also snag my size one needles. Sometimes I do a set of 5 double-pointed needles, sometimes really long circular needles for magic loop. If you don’t know about magic loop look it up on youtube, it’s pretty cool. Too many knitters get thrown off by double-pointed needles. Don’t. You’ll quickly get the hang of it and wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place.
I use size one needles (pretty tiny) for two reasons. The first is functional. If I knit heavier wool with smaller needles the mittens are warmer because the stitches are so tight. The second reason is that I love intricate designs and the width of a woman’s hand is only so wide. If I’m going to get the whole design in, the stitches have to be kind of teeny.
Then I get going. After putting on my cuff I start the design. People who haven’t used two colors at once often wonder how that works. Basically you have a color on each hand. If I’m knitting cream it looks like this.
If I’m picking up red it looks like this.
Using two colors is called stranding because you’re pulling your strand of the yarn you’re not knitting behind your knitted work. The only thing tricky about this is that you don’t want to pull your stranding yarn too tight or your work gets puckered in front of it. Here’s what stranding looks like. If you blur your eyes you can kind of see what the pattern looks like on the other side.
And that’s it! Knit along and before you know it you’ll have a great pair of mittens that are full of history and, if you’re like I am, a little piece of your soul.
For another great knitting project, check out Amy’s adorable mini sweater ornaments!