Saturday, 27 December 2008

Catching Up - Part 1 The Mittens

I love these limbo days between Christmas and New Year. Days when you aren't really sure what day of the week it is but it doesn't much matter because the days are for eating up the Christmas leftovers (to make way for the New Year's feast!) and just mooching around the house reading, knitting or watching DVDs. Folks with more ooomph than me are out battling for a bargain on Oxford St but I think I'll wait until Monday or Tuesday before venturing out that far.

In the meantime I'll use this little lull in activity to get the blog up to date. If you cast your mind back you'll remember that in November I gave up working for a living (temporarily) and was heading home to Canada for a pre-Christmas visit.

I hadn't been home in far too long so I was very excited about going. My niece Kali who is in her second year at university decided to take the train to New Brunswick (a 15 hour trip each way!) for a weekend while I was there which spurred my older sister and her daughter Dyl to do the same. My younger sister and her husband drove up for the weekend (they don't live quite so far away) and suddenly a little mini-pre-Christmas celebration was brewing.

Of course this meant that the Christmas knitting deadline had sort of moved up by a few weeks. Oh well, a small price to pay I thought and the turbo needles came out for some serious action.

Before I left for Canada I finished these Let It Snow mittens from Vogue Fall 2008 for Dyl. I loved making these mittens - I'm easily amused as the pictures emerge with each row whenever I do this sort of pattern. I used Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn and the only modification I made was to put '2009' on one palm and 'SMHS' (St Mary High School) on the other. (I forgot to take a picture of the palms - so you'll just have to take my word on that.)

If I were to make another pair I'd replace the corrugated rib in the cuff with a conventional rib as I can never make corrugated rib properly stretchy.

I hoped that she would like them as much as she liked the mittens I made her last year.

I decided that mittens were the best bet for Kali as well and started a pair of red aran mittens (Aran Island Mittens from Folk Mittens ) on the flight to Halifax. (You can't fly direct to New Brunswick from London in the winter.)(In the summer you can - once a week on Wednesdays.) I made pretty good progress (and had a lovely chat with the steward who was also a knitter!) and had all but finished the first mitten when I realised that there was no way I was going to have enough yarn for a second mitten. Kali does have two hands and although she's an easy going sort of girl I felt she would probably prefer a PAIR of mittens.


I made a dash to a yarn shop in Halifax before boarding the train to New Brunswick and got some Cascade 220 Superwash (what a lot of lovely colours it comes in) and began again. The train trip from Halifax to my home on the north shore of New Brunswick is about 7 hours. I love trains. 7 uninterrupted mitten knitting hours. WooHoo! I finished the first mitten (except the thumb) about 30 minutes before arriving at my destination. By then I was too excited to knit any more and so instead spent it happily babbling away with the train conductor (who was coincidentally from the same part of New Brunswick) and the lady sat across from me (another knitter!).

One of the things I love about Canada - and in particular Atlantic Canada - is how friendly people can be. I'm always struck by it when I go home and this trip was no exception. I had to laugh when the train pulled into the very (very very) small train station (it only stops there on request) where my parents were waiting to meet me and the conductor yelled out to the platform as the train slowed to a halt "Special delivery from England. Anyone here for a special delivery from England?" When my parents claimed me he reassured them, "It's ok, she hasn't lost the Doyleville twang."

Lots of hugs and a short drive later I was at home and settled into what would largely be the pattern for the next 2 weeks:- me in the rocking chair knitting; Mom and Dad looking after me. I'm not ashamed (although perhaps I should be) to say I absolutely love it. I feel like a kid and it is heaven.

Anyway I knit along and finished up the second mitten.

I do like these mittens and knitting them (all 3 of them) reminded me how much I like doing texture and cables in knitting. I haven't really done any in ages and I think I had somehow convinced myself that cables were fiddly and annoying. But they aren't. And they look fab.

Two days later my parents and I head to the meet the morning train and as it is pulling into the station I recognise the same conductor from my trip! We greet each other like old friends and he delivers Kim (my sister) and Dyl (my niece) to us.

Kim has another daughter Sarah,who unfortunately couldn't take time out from her college course to come along but I had decided to make her some mittens as well. Following a bit of consultation with Dyl the Target Wave Mittens from the Interweave Knits Fall 2006 were cast on. The pattern as published is for child size mittens, so I used the Cascade Supewash doubled and bigger needles to make an adult sized pair.

We decided that not quite matching mittens would be more interesting and Dyl continued to provide valuable assistance through the process by operating the row counter for me.

Kali arrived the following morning, my sister and her husband a few hours later. A wee bit more knitting (squeezed in between card games and eating) and I was almost (but not quite) ready for the mini Christmas that evening.

But more about that another time. I've got leftovers to eat and a DVD to watch.


fleegle said...

Oh gosh, Soo, you in Turbo mode is really a scary thought! Your regular knitting speed is about my super-turbo. I am amazed at how quickly you zipped out all those gorgeous mittens.
Have a lovely New Year!

leslie - knitting therapist said...

The North Shore? Whereabouts? All my family, on both sides, comes from Dalhousie and Charlo. My paternal Greatgrandparents ran the Barbour Inn for many years - been gone a long time now.
My mother attended school at the convent - I can't imagine driving up or down the convent hill road in winter - it's bad enough in summer!

cici said...

I love the mitts, there beautiful. Great work. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

the Lady said...

Beautiful mittens and a lovely post and a fun post about the gingerbread house!

BadCatDesigns said...

You mittens are gorgeous, but the "Let it Snow" ones took my breath away. Lovely work. Happy holidays!

HPNY Knits said...

fab mittens!!!
happy new year from NYC.