Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Wednesday's Workbox - Knitted Mittens

File:Pink mittens novita teddy.jpg

Source for this image here.

I'm currently knitting a frilled cardigan for one of my nieces, but when that is finished (soon, I hope - I'm running out of time!) I shall start on the mittens that I intend to make as Christmas gifts.

If you're relatively new to knitting, or even a complete beginner, you might be surprised at just how easy mittens are to knit.  A great deal easier than gloves, to be sure!  I like knitting small items like these (baby cardigans, like the one I am knitting just now, are also fun, because they are quick and easy to finish, and don't cost much to make as they only need perhaps 100 or 200 g of yarn to complete) and it's nice to be able to give unique, homemade gifts like these.

The mittens I plan to make are here - you purchase the pattern as a PDF file which you then own for personal use, but obviously, I can't share it online, however I will say that as it is only $6 (about £4) it's only a little pricier than a pattern bought in a store, and you have a unique and reusable resource for making countless beautiful gifts!  I think I might even make myself a pair!  I think I may experiment with different colours too - red would be nice, as well as adding some applique to the gingerbread man motif.

These are going to be quite challenging to knit (and in fact I wouldn't try to knit these for children, as the pattern would be difficult to transpose to a smaller size, and would be extremely tricky when doing the thumb shaping) so I am also going to use a much simpler pattern for the wee bairns I plan to knit for.

However, that doesn't mean they need to be plain!  It's easy to jazz up a really simple mitten pattern like this one, with cute applique designs.  It's free and is a nice, clear, easy to follow pattern that you can print out for ease of use.

 I have successfully added applique using pieces of ordinary polycotton fabric cut from scraps - if you don't have any, see what you can find in your thrift store - even an old T shirt, pillowcase or tablecloth can be recycled to cut motifs from.  Cut simple shapes such as hearts, flowers, animal heads (bears, cats or bunnies are easy), Christmas themed shapes like snowmen or of course gingerbread men, candy canes or stars, or cut a simple square or circle, and then add beads or buttons.  Buttons alone make a pretty trim on mittens for older children, and you can also sew on bows or frills for little girls, and of course sequins also look lovely.  I would always advise sewing, rather than ironing on, motifs onto knitted fabrics, as the glue on iron on motifs can damage the yarn you have used, and will make that area of the garment inflexible so that it may alter the shape of the finished item.  For garments like mittens and hats I would use an overstitch (blanket stitch looks nice) and if the fabric is likely to fray, cut it with a seam allowance and then turn this over and hem it with an invisible stitch before sewing it to the garment.  For fabrics that fray less easily you can just go straight for the overstitch.  Pin the motif in place before stitching.

Once you have got more confident knitting mittens, you can then move on to gloves - which are a little more challenging, but still not impossible!  One thing to remember with both mittens and gloves, is that if you fetch up with a few gaps and loops between thumbs and fingers, you can always neaten these up after you have finished, by stitching them down with a piece of the same yarn that you knitted them with.  It won't make any difference to the appearance of the finished item, and will be an encouragement to you, when you see how great your handiwork looks!

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