Northman Mitten KAL: Start your cast on
My yarn for the KAL was wound with the help of my children. It went well this time, turns were taken and Mommy didn’t have to untangle any yarn around the swift when the winder suddenly changed directions. As a side note, children really can not resist a yarn ball winder. But this post is really about starting our first KAL of 2013, the Northman Mittens.
So if you have your pattern organized, your yarn wound and needles together, start casting on. There are members in our Ravelry group who been asking “Can we start now?” like small kids bouncing around the hot backseat of the car on the way to the amusement park. So to them I say, “YES, you can start now.”
Here is my yarn and pattern ready to go. I am using Harrisville New England Highland for the outer mitten and Malabrigo Lace held double for the lining. The magenta yarn will be my main color (black squares in this chart) and the natural will be the contrast color (white squares). One of the best parts of this pattern is that David took the time to chart out both the left and right mittens separately and also one set with a light background and one with a darker background. Be careful to knit a right and left mitten.
I measured my hand and it measures 7.5″ which is a small. This is what I expected, it is my normal mitten or glove size. Remember if your measurement is between sizes to go up a size. Mittens can be a little big and still useful, too small mittens just are not helpful.
As you can see from the above picture, you need some way to make which row you are on in the chart. If you are working with a hard copy, we recommend and I love highlighter tape. It is removable, so I just move it up as I go. If you do not have this tape in your notions bag, be sure to order some with your next yarn purchase. It is endlessly useful.
If you are using an Ipad or other tablet, you can use a highlighter function much like the tape in your choice of PDF reader. I use GoodReader on my Ipad. If you have questions about Knit Companion, my co leader, Jamie, is the person to ask about it. So if you have any questions about that, ask in the comments or in the Ravelry thread and she can help you organize your pattern.
Now for a little truth telling…I am not knitting a gauge swatch. Yes, that is what I said, I know I tell people they should do knit gauge swatches always. Here is my reasoning for not doing so with this project. First, I have never done stranded knitting and I know that the stranding can really effect your gauge. So if I knit a gauge for this project especially if I tried it flat, it would tell me nothing. Second, often when I am knitting projects in the round, I use the knit a hat or small object as your swatch idea (if it was good enough for Elizabeth Zimmerman it works for me). So since these mittens are small and in the round, I am just going to go for it and be prepared to rip out my work if need be.
I have learned in my research it is easy to knit too tightly when you knitting with two colors. I will have to resist my natural tendency to pull my stitches tight and to relax. Most experienced knitters recommend you keep your stitches spaced out on your tips of your needles rather than smashed together. Give them room to breath especially on your right hand needle. Another piece of information that I read and heard from multiple experienced stranded knitters is that holding one color in each hand will help you keep a balanced gauge. Washing and blocking is still your friend in stranded knitting, but it won’t get rid of puckers in the fabric that result from pulling your stitches too tightly.
So I am casting on US size 4 needles (again this is an educated guess on my part) and learning how to do this with a color in each hand. This is going to be a challenge given how I tension my yarn normally. But it is good to learn new skills and sometimes new skills require using your body parts differently, in knitting that is your fingers, but it could as easily be learning to ski or belly dancing. I am starting out on DPNs but I might end up with magic loop.
Please do join us over on our Ravelry group in the Northman Mitten thread. There are a number of experienced colorwork knitters joining in this KAL there. It is a great place to ask questions. Also you can ask questions or share thoughts in the comments of these blog posts. I might direct you to answers on Ravelry if it is has been discussed there. So I would highly encourage you become a Ravelry member if you are not one. But I will continue to share my trials and triumphs here and any helpful videos etc. that I use here so don’t worry if you aren’t really that into Ravelry. Also Jamie will be helping me answer questions.
So ready, set, cast on and get knitting!
One last picture of us winding yarns!
Other posts in the Northman Mittens series
Happy knitting on all your projects. Remember you can join us in this KAL any time you want. The end date is February 23rd.