The Lillyfield-Anemoi Frankenmitten, part I

 

Telling you about my Lillyfield-Anemoi mitten planning was one of my most successful posts ever. Your advice was tremendously helpful, both in terms of anecdotal evidence as mitten wearers and suggestions about pattern alternations as knitters. I currently lack experience in both departments. The consensus went something like this, as encapsulated by Kristy:

I have to say that I don’t like afterthought thumbs at all. They either make my hand feel awkward, or I pull my thumb over to the most comfortable position and distort the knitting. But you could always adapt a pattern to include a gusseted thumb!

My goal was as clear as day: knit the Anemoi mitten with the Lillyfield motif. Alternatively, knit the Lillyfield mitten with a gusseted thumb. The result should be similar, if not identical. As for the cuff, I know I will prefer the snugness of corrugated ribbing, so that was not a difficult decision to make.

This afternoon (after finally finishing and blocking the Punctuated Rib socks!) I got out the two patterns and carefully looked at them side by side.

They are so similar, and yet so different! Similarity: both are a single set of charts, with different mitten sizes derived by varying the knitting tension. Differences: everything else. The finished sizes, recommended needle sizes, knitting tensions, stitch counts, round counts… they are all different!

Now, on the one hand you know me to be a very methodical and thorough person, one who does oodles of calculations and really thinks through a project before casting on. On the other hand, it’s very difficult for me to do that for this project. And here’s why:

I refuse to swatch. Knitting a swatch for a circularly-knit, colorwork mitten is basically the same amount of work as knitting the mitten. Sweaters and other projects are obviously a different story. This thinking combined with a not insignificant amount of impatience is propelling me just cast on. No calculating, no pondering, no swatching. Just knitting. But exactly what do I knit? I do need to figure out how many stitches to cast on, and what motif(s) to incorporate!

An interesting tidbit that you perhaps already know: I’ve never been a believer of forcing the yarn into a certain gauge. You hear it all the time, “I swatched with US 5, US 6, and US 7, but I keep getting the same gauge!” “I went down a needle size to achieve the specified gauge, but now I have to consciously knit tighter than I typically would, and my hands are hurting!” Kathy don’t play that. Kathy would much rather knit the yarn at a knitting tension which is reasonable for its thickness and the purpose of the project, measure the gauge, and adjust the pattern instead.

This is an important consideration here because in both patterns different mitten sizes are achieved by varying the gauge. I don’t think I can do that, force the fabric to be something it doesn’t want to be (or something my hands don’t want to make) just so I can follow the pattern “to the t”!

Let’s set aside the stitch count for a minute (while I come to terms with the fact that I will need to knit a swatch).

The Anemoi mitten has a lot of visual appeal, don’t you think? I especially like the way the curlicues are framed all the way around – I think it defines the decorative center quite nicely, makes a neat and tidy edge, and lends itself to cleverly hiding the decreases at the tip of the mitten. The framing is an element that I want to keep. So, how about squeezing the Lillyfield motif into the Anemoi frame?

That’s exactly what I tried to do here. Very conveniently the Anemoi pattern provides a blank mitten schematic on page 8; I opened it up in Photoshop. Then I opened up the Lillyfield pattern in Photoshop, copied the main flower, scaled it accordingly, and shoved it into the Anemoi schematic.

But there are two issues. First, the Anemoi mitten is 68 stitches at its widest, and I have a feeling that’s too few stitches to span my hand if working with the thin SandnesGarn Lanett. Second, the Lillyfield mitten is quite a bit wider – 80 stitches – and squeezing that motif into fewer stitches got rid of many details which, if we’re being honest, make the whole thing dainty and beautiful. Nope, not good.

Next idea: re-chart the Lillyfield pattern making it just a little bit slimmer than the original 80 stitches, place it inside a modified Anemoi frame that’s just a bit wider than 68 stitches, and, hell, knit a swatch while at it. Because I don’t think this project will allow any shortcuts. Dammit! We haven’t even gotten to the thumb mods yet! Stay tuned to see how it all turns out…

35 thoughts on “The Lillyfield-Anemoi Frankenmitten, part I

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  1. liz

    Well, I’m not experienced in pattern work like this, but I refuse to swatch for socks & mittens too, so here’s my advice anyway: I would start at the finger tips (like a toe-up sock) increasing until the width is right, *then* chart out your design once you know how many stitches you have to work with. You may have to frog it if you can’t get enough stitches to accommodate the design before the mitten gets too big, but at least you’ll only be ripping out the finger tips.

  2. Liz

    I am so glad there are patient and thorough designers and knitters as yourself who go through the brain damage of figuring this out. There are a whole lot of us who thank you!!!!

  3. jennifer fay

    I’ve enjoyed your patterns in the past, but I’m suddenly so enamored of your thinking process & all of the technical info. contained in your process. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Erica

    It seems like it would be so easy to modify a colorwork design, until you try to do it! I’ve tried to do this as well, and just didn’t like the narrower design. Sorry the slimming-down didn’t work, but it sounds like plan B will save the day. Good luck!

  5. Emilee

    I agree with you about not forcing gauge – I could never get the Endpaper Mitts to work out for that reason. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

  6. Martha Marques

    Get the math approximately right. If you have to have 2-4 extra or fewer stitches on the palm side of the hand to made the circumference work for example that will be close enough. The front and back of the mitten don’t have to have the exact same number of stitches….just very close. Also, if the mitten is a little large when you’re done you can always gently felt it and stretch it a bit for length which will modify the circumference slightly. Also the tip of the finger thing from liz sounds like a possible solution.

  7. Cara

    I’d say something like, man she’s crazy, but it always sounds like you’re having so much fun and of that I’m just jealous! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  8. Julie

    “Kathy would much rather knit the yarn at a knitting tension which is reasonable for its thickness and the purpose of the project, measure the gauge, and adjust the pattern instead”

    Exactly.

    That’s the most sensible sentence I’ve read today.

  9. RobbinMt

    I am just finishing up the Lillyfield mittens – can’t imagine this kind of adaptation but look forward to seeing how you fix the thumb issue! I hate afterthought thumbs – never seem to pick up the stitches quite right and have to adjust the pattern stitches – erghh!Best!

  10. Pat

    I got a needed chuckle at this post. I am overwhelmed when I even look at the patterns! and then to read your considerations… Wow! I went from overwhelmed to flabbergasted. The graph paper, the photoshop– and you will probably get all this done before i finish my second fetching wristie (a project that allegedly could take place in 1/2 weekend, and the first one has taken me 2 wks.) However, I am weighing my yarn after the project, resisting buying a digital scale (which made sooo much sense). Happy knitting!

  11. Andi

    I see what you’re saying about how if you swatch, you might as well be knitting the mittens. Maybe you could do a provisional cast-on and go straight to the body. If your gauge is correct, then you could go back and knit the cuff. Starting from the fingertip as Liz suggested also sounds like a good idea, but my brain struggles with tip-down gussetted thumbs.

  12. Sharon

    I guess you also need to consider which side of the pattern the thumb should be on. Stem side, I think, but I’d have to draw it to be sure. If only math was taught with knitting word problems in grade school, math literacy would be much less of an issue.

  13. sweetp

    Wow they are both so lovely, I can see why you are having trouble deciding what to do and how to put them together. Beautiful xx

  14. Marjorie

    I’d opt for the other way around. Knit the Lilyfield pattern (assuming your yarn wants to be that pattern!), but just modify the cuff and add a gussetted thumb. It sounds like the Lilyfield might be a better fit for your hand in general and it already has some “framing” in the pattern around the edges.

    I’d look at some mitten books to see the best way of adding a thumb with pattern.

  15. Gretch

    Or, you could leave Lillyfield as it is, and line it with a simple angora lining, ala Anna Zilboorg. You wouldn’t regret that one little bit…

  16. Sarah

    I am so with you on not forcing yarn and my hands into something neither were meant to be.

    I look forward to watching the process of these mittens.

  17. Debbie

    The mittens are beautiful. Good luck! I’m glad there are left-brainers like you out there, because I have lots of problems trying to do what you’ve described. I let people like you figure it out, and then let me know what to do!!

  18. Lisa

    I think no matter how you put these two mittens together they will be lovely.

    My children laugh when I tell them there can be a great deal of math involved with knitting and sewing. Maybe I should have them develop their own mitten pattern as a math project over the summer…

  19. Kristina Martin

    Kathy,

    I love this entire post. So many things struck a cord with me. I can’t wait to see how this project progresses.

    Have a great day, Kristina

  20. Stephanie

    Wow. You’re amazing and way more willing to tinker than I am. I love the Anemoi mitten and have been thinking about knitting it because I need some new mittens, but there are all of those ufo’s that need attention. Ugh. I can’t wait to see your version of these two great mitten patterns.

  21. Seanna Lea

    I’m not sure how I would have gone about changing the pattern (specifically the photoshop portion), but I have definitely recharted motifs with graph paper! Are you going to do a basic in the round colorwork swatch just to figure out a baseline number of stitches and rows?

  22. Shelda

    Oh, I just love you! A knitter after my very own twisted lil’ heart. Thanks so much for sharing all the fun with us! It’s going to be very fun to see what you end up with.

  23. The Knitting Archaeologist

    I think you are correct in casting on 72 sts. My hand is slightly wider than yours, and I cast on 72 sts using fingering weight yarn for the Vinterblomster mittens. The only place that I like ease in my mittens is around the thumb. Other than that, they can be a vise and I’ll be a happy camper! I have to say that I don’t care for the afterthought thumb, though…stitches always look wonky when I try to pick them back up. Good luck with all the noodling…I’m sure they’ll turn out great.

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