My swatch says keep right.

Well, I knit a swatch. Whoop dee doo.

Nope, you are not going blind, and I have not changed my mind on you. This is not a swatch of either the Anemoi pattern, or the Lillyfield pattern. It’s just some super basic stranded knitting done in the round so I can measure gauge. As you know, I seriously resisted knitting a swatch all together. So when I finally came to terms with the idea… no, with the fact that I had to swatch, I exercised whatever control I had remaining by refusing to knit the actual pattern. Bite me, stupid swatch! At least I didn’t knit half of the mitten in the process, which was my objection to the whole thing in the first place!

I reasoned that whatever motif I choose, as long as the swatch is knit using (1) the yarns, (2) the needles, and (3) the techniques I intend to use for the actual project, I can get the information I need: gauge. For the record, it is about 9-9.3 spi.

Being seriously inexperienced in the whole mitten-wearing thing (I can’t remember the last pair of mittens I owned, I must have been a child!), the question of sizing came up next. Both Eunny Jang and Jennifer Coleman advise the knitter to “allow some ease around the widest part of your hand.” As far as wearing mittens is concerned, I’m not sure why that is (any ideas?). For aesthetic reasons, it makes sense to not over-stretch stranded knitting because it distorts the pattern.

My hand is 7.5″ in circumference around the knuckles. After trying on my circularly-knit swatch, taking my gauge into consideration, and heeding the designers’ advice, I decided to aim for a mitten worked over 72 stitches at its widest. Much of my rambling from last time stuck around – I still wanted the frame, I still wanted the delicate Lillyfield details.

But one thing changed: I decided against simply scaling down the motif and overlaying it onto a smaller number of stitches. Instead I carefully redrew the pattern, taking away stitches which didn’t affect the overall look, and retaining those which did. It was a multi-step process – draw a little, change my mind, scan my work, use Photoshop to move elements, print the new version, draw some more, rinse and repeat.

Having an electronic version of my doodles is additionally helpful because one day (ha!) I’ll need to knit the other mitten (be it left or right), and to generate the chart I’ll simply reflect the doodle through the vertical and call it a done deal.

I think I have a decent working model at the moment. It is 72 stitches wide, and has the same frame as the Anemoi mittens. I’m a little concerned that the mitten will be too long as written – there are 75 rounds, for a total length of 7.5″, and my hand is only 7″ long – so I might make one more revision before I start, squishing the stem in the vertical direction ever so slightly. That shouldn’t be too complicated, I’m hoping.

38 thoughts on “My swatch says keep right.

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  1. Lisa

    The ease is primarily to allow some space for the (body-heat warmed) air around your hand and fingers. It makes for a warmer mitten. Enjoy!

  2. Carolyn Mele

    I like my mittens snug. I also find that they grow with wear. Oh, and I find that I come down with serious second mitten syndrome…I rarely get second sock syndrom…but mittens yes.

    You are making my brain hurt and the thought of all this work and you not knitting the second one…oh man.

  3. Mary K. in Rockport

    I’m finding your efforts interesting. The Lillyfield pattern is lovely, but your new version does look slightly squished at the sides. Perhaps playing with the curve of the stem would help, as you suggest. Agreeing with Lisa about why mittens like some ease.

  4. Sarah

    Yes, I suppose a swatch was necessary to obtain all the information necessary to knit the mitten that will work for you. I am now getting excited about the thumb planning.

  5. Anna

    I find that my fingers are claustraphobic in mittens. If you don’t allow some ease, you are basically assuming that your fingers will be very close together at all times…and you’ll want some room to wiggle!

  6. tabitha

    thanks for all the information on how you are figuring out your mittens.

    i’m been thinking about making mittens and going round in round in my mind what i want to do.

    when i actually do it, it will be the first thing i’ve knit without a pattern.

    your posts have been encouraging.

  7. gina

    the ease is definitely both for warmth and for comfort – air space acts as a warm buffer and allows your fingers to wiggle a little, which mine always appreciate. i always enjoy your blog for the thoughtful approach you take to knitting projects and their adaptation :) seems like a lot of work to change this one around, so i hope it turns out as you want it to!

  8. Joy

    Rather than squishing the stem, would it work just to leave the needed number of rounds off at the bottom? I think the mittens will look smashing when you’re done!

  9. Linda M

    Margene has a post today about fitting mittens. her post is very informative. your prep work is impressive.

  10. Allison

    When you are playing with the length, remember that your hand is three-dimensional. You need to account for the width of your middle (or longest) finger, so maybe the extra half-inch of the design isn’t really too long after all. Good luck! It will be fun for you when you finally cast on.

  11. Gillian

    You’re not in such a cold climate that mitts are a necessity. Mine often need room for a second pair under or to wear gloves under. I’ve been working hard to find a consistently warm solution because we’re having a cold winter here and my hands are often cold too. I’m really looking forward to seeing your mitts.

  12. Seanna Lea

    I love the rework of the mittens your sizing and pattern selection and I’m finding the comments very helpful for knitting my own first mittens next month (first I have a metric tonne of garter stitch to do)!

  13. Vikki

    A little extra room is good. Makes them warmer. I don’t have a clue why. The Anemoi mittens are very long, even for my long hands. I took out the rows between the red lines on the pattern and that seemed to work much better.

  14. diane

    Your design looks lovely! Couldn’t you just start the stem part on the cuff a bit so you don’t have to ‘squish’ it any more?

  15. cathy

    i like my mittens longer, so they cover my wrists… you’ll regret it if you make them too short.

  16. Erica

    I like your modified design. It’s amazing how much work it is to change a color pattern. You must have a lot of patience for drawing and re-drawing!

  17. Ruby

    I appreciate you taking the time to write out how you are arriving at your pattern. I have been using your example as I work to create a pattern for duplicating a pillow top shown in a couple of history books. Your experience and the careful description of your process is proving valuable for me. Thank you!

  18. Janis

    I think squishing the stem would be good from a design standpoint. It looks a little awkward in the middle with the rest of the design so curvy.

  19. caroline

    weird – I never wear mittens but today I can’t get away from them in blogland – zeneedle.typepad.com has been doing some thinking about them. Since she has a detail-oriented mind you might find her posts useful…

  20. Heather

    I have been a mitten maniac lately and have wondered about the sizing issues myself. My #1 requirement is a long-enough cuff–cold wrists just seem so pointless, you know?

  21. Nancy

    I love to hear your thought process as you work out modifications. I enjoy changing patterns to suit me — different sizing, different yarn, things I just want to change, etc. Most of my knitting friends laugh at my mathematical ramblings, so it’s a comfort to find you do them too! Thanks for sharing!

  22. Laura Neal

    I hate to swatch and avoid it pretty much most of the time. I found that I have to use a size 5 needle on these mitts. The smaller needles didn’t work out for me at all. I have the cuff to prove it. I guess if I would have swatched…it wouldn’t have happened.

    I am sticking to my US 5′s for these things and it is working out nicely.

  23. linken

    I second Allison – a little extra length is a good thing with mittens. a) I hate it when my fingers are right up to the end of the mitten or glove b)it allows some fudge room on the width of the pattern – ie if it needs to stretch a bit around – the length will shorten some. I’m excited what you knit with those two patterns in mind :) thank you for sharing your knitting journey.

  24. Jennifer

    I have a non-design question: how do you get such perfect tension when working with two strands? I’m currently employing the two-handed technique (Continental with background color and English with the contrast), but it’s not as even as I’d like. Does knowing the proper float tension just come with time?

    Thanks for turning us on to these mitten patterns. I started Anemoi after seeing it on your blog.

  25. Jennifer

    How do you keep your tension so even when working with two yarns? I use the two-handed method (continental with main color, english with contrast), but it’s not as even as I’d like.

    Thanks for turning us on to these mitten patterns. I started Anemoi after seeing it on your blog.

  26. Magi

    I live a few hundred miles north of Boston – in Canada where the cold air comes from ;) And this winter I cannot do without my mittens In fact, I have added polar fleece inserts to help keep out the cold wind( especially the fingering yarn ones-even fair isle types like Anemoi) Your design looks lovely – can’t wait to see it.

  27. Jennifer

    Pretty, pretty, pretty! What a sweet design. I made the Anemoi mitts, and the amount of ease I have is enough to maintain a sleek look. I think I have maybe 1/4″ ease? The length of the mittens was dead-on for my hand, but an extra row might have been nice for a little more wiggle room at the top.

  28. del

    I mostly lurk here, but you should REALLY do a book. Your technical info and pursuit of perfection would be outstanding in book form (though they do this blog great justice, too).

  29. Mary

    I don’t know if you’ve thought of this already, but I was thinking that those little circle swatches could be easily finished off as a cute cup/mug warmer!

  30. emma

    You can’t make the cuff too long, in my opinion, and generally it is too short. The motif is going down to the bottom, yes?

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