Wednesday, October 01, 2014

A Pair and A Spare ~ A Mitten Story

Hi, Knitters,
I started knitting a pair of mittens a couple of weeks ago for TC's swim sister for the high school swim season. Every year I have knit a pair of mittens for both of my daughters' swim sisters. I have done all sorts of mittens with different yarns ranging from a worsted weight to a bulky weight to a super bulky weight. This year I was digging around in my stash to see what I could find for a fun pair to give away to TC's sister. I stumbled upon some skeins of Noro Kureyon that had been sitting around for many, many years.

The pair I whipped up for the swim sister (in the photo above) were knit with two skeins of Noro Kureyon in the same colorway and just knit straight through without worrying about the color changes. They turned out so adorable and cheerful. The mittens are mismatched in a charming way. TC told me that her swim sister just loved the mittens so much. That made me feel good.

I used my Waiting for Winter mitten pattern. I have this pattern completely memorized, all three sizes in the pattern, and I love that I can just sit down with my worsted weight wool and knit a pair of mittens from memory in no time at all. I love this pattern that I have refined for years and years. It is so simple and quick. The Waiting for Winter mitten pattern is written for worsted weight yarn knit at a 5 stitches per inch gauge.

The pattern comes in three sizes to fit: large child/small woman's hand, medium woman's hand, and large woman's hand. The pattern is easily sized up or down by using different gauge yarn or by following the easy number trends in the pattern to expand the sizes to fit smaller children and men.

I knit the middle size, or the medium, in the pattern which fits an average-size woman's hand. Lengths can always be varied for the cuff, thumb and hand. 

One medium mitten (the middle size) with a: 

3-inch ribbed cuff 
1-inch of stockinette stitch worked before the thumb gusset starts
a 4-inch hand beyond the held stitches for thumb and before the decreases at the top of the mitten
1.75 inch thumb before decreases
30 grams of worsted weight wool 

The Noro Kureyon comes in 50 gram balls. So I know that I need 2 skeins to make a pair of mittens in Kureyon. 

If you knit the Kureyon straight through you will get mismatched mittens, which I love! They go together but don't match perfectly. I think this is super cute for woolly winter mittens.

Now the Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat was hosting a mitten-along as a group charity donation to the Maine Mitten Project. Click here to find out more about the Maine Mitten Project! I can't remember how much I had completed on the first mitten or the second mitten before I got to the retreat but I finished the pair while at the retreat. This was a great retreat knitting project as it is fun, super simple and I have the pattern memorized. I would knit mittens again at a retreat.

This time I used the Noro Kureyon in a different way. I took two contrasting balls of the Kureyon and striped them. You can see this in the mittens (in the photo above) I donated along with the other attendees' mittens. The mittens definitely were a pair but they are mismatched in the cutest of ways.

The mitten donation was incredible at the retreat. I think there were about 50 attendees at the retreat. I think in the end there were around 70 pairs of mittens donated to the Maine Mitten Project. What a huge success.  The attendees took the donation very seriously. Paula, the host, had a mitten share time where everyone got to stand up and share the pair or pairs of mittens they made to donate. I loved this time of sharing. I had so much fun looking at all of the different styles and sizes and yarns. It was really inspiring. Sometimes the simplest plain pair of mittens can capture your heart. There is something sweet and good about a pair of wool handknit mittens. It brings you back to childhood somehow. 

Something funny happened while I was at the retreat. My son, who is in business school at the UW-Madison, called me asking for help with a class project he was assigned. The class is about entrepreneur small businesses and he was put in a group of students to come up with a clever idea. His group wanted to do something with winter-wear knit accessories. That's why he called me to see if I had any ideas. It was funny that I happened to be knitting mittens right at that time.

We started talking about various ideas about mittens. His group thought about a pocket to put a bus pass or ID card in on the top of the mitten hand but then I thought you couldn't bend your hand which would be annoying. I think this has been done before, too. Then my son and I started talking about how you always lose one mitten and then the mitten that's left is useless.

I started thinking about what if you had a pair of mismatched mittens, like the Kureyon mittens I had been working on, but then you continued adding a third mitten into the set so that if you lose one you have a spare. So we called it, A Pair and A Spare! The perfect set of mix and match mittens was born.

My son's group loved the idea. My son shared a photo of the stripey mittens to the group and several girls in his group said they would wear these mittens every day! The idea was met with huge approval. I quickly knit up a sample set for my son to bring and share with the group. I don't know how the story ends with the business class project but I know that I love this set of 3 mix and match mittens.

Aren't they squishy and inviting?

So here's how you make these stripey mittens and you don't have to make three mittens but you might want to after I tell you about them.

Remember that each of these medium-size mittens from the Waiting for Winter pattern weighs in at 30 grams. With contrasting colorways of Noro Kureyon and two balls, 50 grams each, you have 100 grams of worsted weight wool. You can get 3 mittens with 100 grams or 2 balls of Noro and you hardly have any leftover yarn at the end (about 10 grams). It is the perfect project and yarn use. Kureyon has long color changes that sort of fade into the next color as you go along. This makes the striping entertaining to knit and the outcome is stunningly beautiful.

For the mittens I followed the Waiting for Winter pattern to a tee. I did 2 round stripes with alternating balls of Kureyon.  So knit 2 rounds with one ball, and then 2 rounds with the other ball. I carried the yarn up on the inside of the mitten being careful not to pull too tight as I worked. 

When I started the decrease rounds at the top I only used one ball of yarn. Then when I went back to finish up the thumb I continued using the same ball I used at the top of the mitten for the decrease rounds. That's it! It is so easy and you end up with this set of 3 mittens that are mix and match plus you have a spare mitten. The mittens are so inviting and sweet looking. Noro Kureyon is one of the great yarns of all times in my opinion.

I think this is the best gift around. It is a fun and fast knit, the Kureyon is $8.95 a ball at WEBS, so your gift is under $20. You can have so much fun picking out contrasting colorways of the Kureyon and you really can't go wrong, the crazier the colors, the better for the mitten sets. After my son is done with the mittens for his class project I will definitely be gifting these for the upcoming holidays. 

Now if you think about it, if you have 4 balls of Noro Kureyon (200 grams) and did the stripey mittens like this you would end up with 6 mittens or 3 pairs of mittens that are mix and match. This is not a bad idea either. What a great way to use up Noro and have some quick gifts ready to go. I'm thinking about knitting these up for everyone on my list this coming holiday season.

Let me know if you try the A Pair and A Spare idea or if you just try the stripey Noro Kureyon mittens. Also, doesn't everyone have a few balls of Noro Kureyon in their stash just waiting to be used somehow? I know I do. I have 3 balls left that I plan to knit up into Waiting for Winter mittens in this stripey-style.

Fall is really getting going around here. The fall foliage is becoming breathtaking. I am soaking it all in as fall is truly my favorite season of the year.

xo ~ susan
p.s. The knitting project bag in the first photo is from LoveSockWool on Etsy!


Denise said...

You are so inspiring! The mittens are gorgeous. You must also have ESP. How did you know I've had Kureyon in stash for a while? Can't wait to use it soon!

Barb said...

Adorable! You are the clever-est, most creative-est and certainly the most generous-est knitter out there.

Thank you so much!!!

Christine @ 12,450miles said...

I adore this idea!! I'm definitely going to be giving these to some friends this winter. Thank you (as always) for the inspiration!

Monika said...

Aaaaawww, SO cute! Which technique do you use for the jogless stripes? And where do you begin a new row? (palm-side of the mittens?)

Must knit some!

Redyarnknits said...

These are very cute and would be a great idea for kids who lose mittens fairly often.

Susan B. Anderson said...


That's so great!! I love your set of 3 mittens with the Noro Silk Garden. They are awesome!

Thanks for sharing and I love that you already beat me to it.

xo, susan

Susan G said...

I just started making mittens for a local craft store - I call them
3 little mittens!

great minds think alike!

Betz White said...

I love everything about this! The yarn, the mittens, the son and the brilliant idea that came out of it!

Susan B. Anderson said...

I don't use the jogless jog on skinny stripes. Only sometimes do I use it on much wider stripes.

I start the stripes on the first stitch of the round which falls on the side of the mitten where the thumb is placed.

Susan B. Anderson said...

Well, Susan G!

You are a clever one! 3 Little Mittens was one of my name ideas for my son's project, too. We do think alike.

I have seen this same kind of thing with some brand of slightly mis-matched socks where you get three in the set to mix and match. That's fun, too!


Susan B. Anderson said...

Mary ~ I just mentioned that in the last comment I made. I couldn't remember the name of the company though. Those are really cute socks!!

Thanks for the link.

The Alaska Venhauses said...

Another idea would be to use a solid color with the Noro if you want it to go farther. Fun and cute mittens!

Anonymous said...

Susan... I am a new knitter so I hope you will bear with me... I am learning to knit and I have started knitting not too long ago. Mitten is my next project and you are a good teacher... Can I ask for sure if you mean two skeins of Noro in the same color to make 100g or did you mean one skein of a different color than the other? When you say you carry over the yarn, you mean you don't cut them and start a new row? Sorry I may sound dumb but wanna be sure. Thank you so much!

Susan B. Anderson said...

2 skeins in different colors. each skein is 50 grams so 2 skeins is 100 grams.
don't cut the yarn every time you change colors, just carry the strands up on the inside as you work up the mitten.


Jessica said...

These are great! You might've said this in your post or in the comments, but I can't find it...would you mind sharing the colorways you used? I've narrowed it down on WEBS but can't quite be sure! Thanks!

Jessica said...

These are great! You might've said this in your post or in the comments, but I can't find it...would you mind sharing the colorways you used? I've narrowed it down on WEBS but can't quite be sure! Thanks!

Susan B. Anderson said...

jessica ~ i don't have any of the ball bands on these balls that I've had for so many years so i can't be of help with that. sorry. just go for colors that would compliment but are different! I don't think you could go wrong really.


AnnM said...

Love the idea of the slightly mismatched mittens. My granddaughter will love them! It's so funny because I just printed a copy of your mitten pattern from my Ravelry library a couple of days ago. They are on my list of gift items to knit for Christmas.

fishgirl182 said...

Love the mittens! I am definitely making a pair.

Renee Anne said...

I was just thinking about making a pair and a spare (using Cascade 220 Superwash, though) for my six year old niece...I have two skeins of the same color/dyelot and I was going to make a matching hat. So, I know I'll have enough left to make a third mitten as well as the hat (I got a pair for me and a pair for my almost four year old out of one skein) fact, I could probably do two pairs of mittens and the hat and an extra mitten.

I'll have to think on it :)

gale (she shoots sheep shots) said...

Love these so much, and love the business students taking up your idea. My mom made us striped wool mittens growing up, she'd use leftover skeins from family sweaters, so they all sort of coordinated and sort of didn't. They became a "thing" amongst our friends, and she knit many, many pair. I still have a few odd ones floating around in my dresser but they are too precious to wear.

Kathleen said...

Very cute idea and you're right...every knitter with a stash has a couple "orphan" Noro skeins. I know I certainly do. Great gift idea for kids/teens or anyone really. I already have the pattern!

Anonymous said...

I love this idea so much.

Laura G.

Kristebee said...

Ordered three noro skeins! It was get two and pay shipping or get three with free shipping for only $2 more... Obviously I choose more yarn! Hopefully the colors will look good. It's so hard to tell online. I'm making fingerless so I might get three pairs from three... We'll see! :). Xoxo

Barb said...

Don't you just love how everybody love this idea? (Actually, I think we all love all of your ideas & your knitting.).

I love how your son's business class grabbed onto this idea - maybe you can let us know what they do with it?

As always, thanks so much.

HeatherLee said...

Do you have to dry clean? I am fine with handwashing. But, I can never remember to dry clean anything.

Elizabeth D said...

My grandmother always gave is mittens in sets of 3.