Mitts, Right AND Left
I'm off to pick out something new to put on the needles. See you next year!
Knitting, spinning, and my crazy life...
Yesterday we went to the Air and Space Museum Annex. If you've never been there, you should really go next time you're in the DC area. The annex is out by Dulles Airport, but they run shuttle buses from the National Mall (where the Air and Space Museum is) out to this new annex they built a year or so ago. Since its not on the Mall, its not as crowded as the regular museum is. Its in a modified airplane hanger so there is more room to put the planes (and you can actually see what you're looking at). But the best part is that its really kid friendly. If you go first thing in the morning, there aren't many other people and lets face it - giant airplane hangers were just made for whooping and hollering.
So what does this have to do with knitting? Well there are a pair of knitted mittens and some felted wool socks there. I guess early airplanes didn't have heat and its probably pretty cold zipping around in the sky, so you would want to pull on your airplane mittens (made in patriotic red, white and blue of course) before you went flying. They didn't give a date for these, but I love that knitters in the early days of aviation were plagued by color pooling too. If I knew more about mittens I could tell you what kind of thumb they have, but you'll just have to figure that our from the picture if you can. Want to know something funny? These are sized for men's hands. My husband will only wear black or grey, but some knitter, somewhere, got her pilot husband to wear these red, white and blue mittens.
These are labled as "embroidered Wool Stockings, Anne Murrow Lindbergh." They are felted socks with embroidery of green and red decorating them. I assume they were worn by Anne Lindbergh since they are small enough to be women's socks but it doesn't say if she made them or not. In addition to the two items I've shown here, they also have planes, jets, helicopters, rockets, and satellites at the museum (which is probably why they call it the Air and Space Museum Annex, instead of The Knitwear Early Aviators Liked to Wear Museum.) You can even see the Space Shuttle Enterprise (which is just so cool)!
That's right, nothing new to show on the knitting front. I was going to have the finished fingerless mitts to show you. In fact at 8:30 last night I had 2 rows of seed stitch and a bind off row left. Do some quick thumbs and voila! Fingerless Mitts! Then I realized that I had made the second mitt for the right hand, which wouldn't be a problem except that the first mitt was also for the right hand. So, I unraveled back to the cuff and started again, this time with the thumb gusset in the correct place for the left hand. Ahhh, symmetry, ain't it great?
I might finish the mitts tonight. Or not. Its hard to tell.
Ramius would like to add a small public service announcement. If you sit in a wet shower and watch the drips slide down the wall, you should always dry your toes off BEFORE you climb into your litter box full of clumping litter. I'm sure you can imagine the situation you'd find yourself in if you didn't dry your toes off.
I've got to go wash Ramius' feet now.
The wrapping paper bits and bows have all been gathered up. The turkey has been eaten (or is bagged for reincarnation as sandwiches and chili). The batteries are still holding out and those infernal twisties that toy companies now use to secure the toy to the packaging (you know, the minimum of 385 per toy so you just keep untwisting and untwisting while your kid hops up and down asking, "Is it ready? Can I have it yet?" and by the time you get the toy freed from the highly secure environment it was packaged in, your kid has out grown the toy) have been thrown away in a trash can the cat will never find. We made it through another wonderful Christmas here and while it was great, it was also exhausting and I'm glad that its over.
I started another pair of socks. These are the Latvian Socks from Folk Socks and I'm knitting them with KnitPicks Essential Sock Yarn in the charcoal or dark grey color (I can't remember what the color is called off the top of my head). They have this pretty little picot hem at the top instead of ribbing and then switch to a simple lace pattern. This book is also written by Nancy Bush and it looks like she holds my hand through the heel turn in this one too. I do have a question for those of you that knit socks from the top down: How do you know how long to make the foot? She says to start the toe shaping when its 2 inches or so less than the desired length and I don't know how long the desired length is. I could measure my foot, but the sock is stretchy and how do I measure how much the sock will stretch? Do I try the sock on? Should I not worry about it right now and just keep knitting on faith and hope that tiny sock knitting mice (who would never eat the sock, but only help to knit it) will leave a note one night?
Yesterday was crazy. Monday is always a little rushed around here, but yesterday I really didn't get a chance to sit down until 8:30 last night. I did a few rounds of knitting on this before I collapsed into bed. What is this? The yarn is the rainbow colored Columbia that I spun in November (I think). It blends from cool colors to warm colors, but there are speckles of lots of other colors within those blends. What I'm making is another pair of fingerless mitts. I just love these things! They are fast to work up, comfortable to wear, and you can drive in them safely because your fingers are out so they can grip the wheel. The other day I tried to drive in mittens (just to mix things up a bit), and before I even grabbed the steering wheel, I had caught my mittens in the hinges of my sunglasses when I went to put them on. Not a good start. I decided that I just do better with my fingers out. So, I wound this yarn in to balls and started them over the weekend. I haven't decided what pattern to put on them, and there is a thumb positioning issue I'm trying to figure out, but I have high hopes for today. I might actually get a little time to knit on them.
Did I mention that I'm done Christmas shopping? And Christmas knitting? Woo Hoo!
I've also decided that many Western knitters and their families had severe frostbite of the toes. Why, you ask? Well, apparently Western knitters (I'm assuming we're talking about Western Europe versus Eastern Europe and the Middle East here) typically knit socks from the top down, while other knitters in more of an Easterly region knit from the toe up. As regular readers know, I've always been a toe up kind of girl, but I try to keep an open mind so I thought I'd give top down a whirl. When I sat down to knit last night, I was done with the cuff of the sock and ready to start something called a heel flap. What you see above - heel flap, stitches picked up again after the heel flap, and about half of the heel turn - is over 3 hours of knitting! So, therefore, I must conclude that if I were knitting socks to keep mine and my family's feet warm all winter, we would all have frostbite before I finished the socks (Caleb would probably be OK, he still has little feet, but Mickael? you're on your own, honey) I think this is also why there is so much discussion about socks wearing out. I've been doing socks for about 2 years now and I have yet to have a sock wear out. The closest thing to wearing out that my socks have experienced was when Ramius stole a puffball from one of the Pom Squad socks. My mom knit me some socks 5 years ago for me to wear while I was in labor with Caleb and those aren't worn out. So, I have to ask myself, why all the fuss about sock durability? After 3 hours of knitting last night, I get it! You top down people spend so much time doing the heel turn, that you need the socks to last for 15 - 20 years to get a good return on your time investment. I have come to the conclusion that as long as Nancy Bush (or someone equally patient) is willing to write a sock pattern that I can understand and walk me through every step of the heel turn, I will do an occasional top down sock. At the rate they're going, I should be able to make 2 pairs a year.
I'd also like to say THANK YOU! for all the wonderful comments about Bristow. I am so happy that you like the pattern! One thing I'd like to note, Shannon of the Comments asked a question about the gauge of the pattern which is 19 stitches/29 rows per 4 inch square and yes, this is correct. It sounded like a high row count to me too, but after counting it 5 times, then letting it sit for a week and coming back (because it could have been playing a trick on me) and recounting, its still 29 rows per 4 inches. Usually, if you get a slightly different row gauge, its not the end of the world, whereas we all know what happens if your stitch gauge is off.
This pattern is named after my maternal grandmother, Bertie Bow Bristow Long. She passed away this September while I was knitting on this design and I just felt that it should be named for her. When I was younger, she had more energy than I did. I remember thinking she could probably walk faster than any plane could fly and never understood why we had to go to the airport to pick her up. I now understand of course that walking from West Texas to Eastern Tennessee (and later Colorado), was a bit too far even for her! She was a teacher and later volunteered at a Texas historical museum there in Lubbock. She raised two daughters, was married to my grandfather for over 50 years before he passed away, and stayed active in the church for as long as her body and mind allowed. Sometimes it seemed like she knew everything there was to know about Texas history but the thing that will always remind me of her are her buttermilk biscuits. Grandmommy made the best biscuits in the entire world. Caleb actually called her Bicca, which was his word for biscuit when he was little bitty, because I told him that she was the one who taught me to make biscuits - something he's been eating and enjoying since he was about a year old. Something about the smell of the buttermilk and the feel of the dough always takes me back to when I was younger, standing in Grandmommy's kitchen in Lubbock, helping her to cut out biscuits. She never knitted, but she had red hair until the day she passed away, at 96 years old, so it felt right to dedicate this pattern to her.
For those of you that are interested, here is her biscuit recipe:
Bertie Bow Bristow Long's Buttermilk Biscuits
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
Mix all the dry ingredients together until they are well blended. Cut in the shortening and mix thoroughly. (Its important to get everything as evenly mixed as possible before you add the buttermilk) Add the buttermilk and mix together quickly and GENTLY. If you take too long mixing in the buttermilk or mix it in roughly, you'll have tough biscuits. Turn out the dough on a floured surface and pat (don't roll) it out until its 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Cut it out with a round cutter - don't twist the cutter as you cut or you'll seal the edges of the biscuits and they won't rise as well. Place the biscuits on a greased cookie sheet (I actually use a pizza baking stone now and don't grease it) and put into the oven until the biscuits start to turn golden brown on the tops. I think this takes about 15 -20 minutes but I've never really timed it - I always just watch them cook. Serve hot, or once they are cool, they keep in a ziplock bag on the counter just fine (they never last more than 24 hours around here, so I have no clue how long they'll keep). I've found that if you put them in the bag just before they are completely cool, they stay a little bit fluffier or something.
Divide into 2 groups please, and starting with you on the left....*Row, Row, Row you boat, gently down the stream, (Now the second group starts at the *-hey, its just like a knitting pattern!) Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,....