At Mitts' End

Now that Spring is officially on its way (the forecast is for 53 degrees today! I am all a-twitter and agog!!) I feel that I must finally post some of the fruits of my winter knitting frenzy.

Naturally, I spent a great portion of the winter this year embroiled in a deep obsession with the PBS/BBC series Cranford.  Partly because I will watch ALMOST any British period costume drama they care to serve up (I draw the line firmly at Keira Knightly), and partly because the cast was so wonderful.

I will watch anything, for example, with this divine lady in it:

Francesca Annis

Love. Her.

So Cranford was sweet and light and fun — it didn’t feature a great quantity of the smouldering and agonizing heartache that I prize so much in period drama, but it DID feature some truly glorious knitting that I spent much of the winter trying to recreate.

Mostly, I was obsessed with the many varieties of fingerless gloves (which they would have called mittens) that the ladies of Cranford wore.

I ordered a great big cone of natural, somewhat rough, handspun lace-weight yarn so that I could experiment at will, and while I was waiting for it to arrive (annoyingly, it was backordered for weeks — I suspect I wasn’t the only obsessive knitter so afflicted) I pulled out some gorgeous malabrigo laceweight that I had had in my stash for over two years, patiently waiting for a project that was worthy of it.

After starting and stopping a few times with various combinations of stitches, I decided that I first wanted to see how the yarn would behave in a lacey mitt pattern, so I made a pair in the Spyrogyra pattern from that I had always loved, and gave them to my friend Melissa, who has the tiniest, most delicate paws you can possibly imagine.

Here’s how they came out (beautiful photography by Melissa Averinos, natch):

mitts detail

Mitts in toto

Mitts on paws

See what I mean? How could you not want to knit for delicate little hands like that? I ask you.

So those came out pretty well, but my cone of handspun, oatmeal-colored yarn still hadn’t arrived, so I started up another pair, this one a Cranford-inspired pattern of my own devising, destined for my very own hands.

These had a short cuff of two-by-two ribbing, followed by a simple double-yarn-over lacey loop repeat, followed by very basic stockinette all the way up to a running diagonal lace trim on the fingers and thumb. I wanted to show off the gorgeous shades of the hand-dyed malabrigo yarn more than the Spyrogyra pattern had done, so I suffered in silence through the many hours of laceweight stockinette on size zero needles. The horror!

It was fun. I secretly LOVE knitting on teeny tiny needles.

So those cameout quite satisfactorily, too, and I now wear them every day at work in my freezing office in Cambridge:

simple mitts for me

mitt thumb

mitts and mac

And when THOSE were done, I finally had possession of my cone of oatmeal two-ply. But by then I was so mittened out that I jumped right into a huge circular shawl with a deliciously soft brown trim with the stuff.

It isn’t quite finished yet (almost! dang but that trim takes forEVER to finish up), nevermind blocked to within an inch of its life, but here is a taste:

lacey shawl

I should be able to complete the trim and block it out next weekend, which is just about when I expect the crocuses to start to poke their little heads up out of the ground.

And then it will be time to move on from winter-ish knitting and into some springier sorts of crafty goodness.

I am thinking something soft and green, to celebrate the new season of warmth.

What will it be?