Working on Sara’s mittens has been cake for the most part. I’ve done this pattern before so I am familiar with it. There are no little surprises or ‘at the same time’ clauses to look out for. Yet what I failed to realize is how different the Cascade 220 is from Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label yarn.
TFA Yellow label completely relaxes when you block it. It becomes super soft and almost melts into the shape you want it to be. Cascade 220 does not. Right away when I started knitting the mittens, they felt very dense; this is a good thing, it means they will wear longer and be warmer. The less open spaces between the stitches means the less cold air will get in.
My plan was to knit both the outside mittens and block them together, then pick up the stitches to knit the lining. I was not going to block the lining because when I did that with my own mittens, the lining expanded and it was slightly too big to fit inside the mitten shell. As a result there is a wrinkle on the inside of the mitten in the lining. In order to accommodate this my plan of blocking the shell and not the lining emerged.
Everything went good for the blocking itself. I wetted the mittens down and they didn’t relax near as much as the TFA yarn ones did, but they relaxed a little bit nonetheless. One mitten was perfect on it’s own, I didn’t need to pin it at all. The other one was not quite the same size. I needed to pin it down in order for the wool to get the memory of being the same size as the first mitten.
I got a blanket and a towel, because I usually pin things like that, and went to go find my pins. This turned out to be easier said then done. My pins are usually upstairs in the smallest of our three bedrooms, that is my room where I stores tones of yarn fabric etc. We had been putting all the wedding things in it from immediately post-wedding and just nipping in to grab something quick when we needed it. There was literally no room to walk within the space. After about 45 minutes of fruitless searching I messaged my neighbour who has just gotten into quilting. I know that requires copious amounts of pinning etc. As it turns out, the pin-gremlins had visited her house too, they were missing. I went back up into the craft room and tried to find something that I could substitute for pins. I found some of the needles I had from VKL Chicago 2013, they look like really long pins. However they were for needle felting and were not substantial enough to hold the mitten in place.
While standing in the middle of the room and looking around in a vague sense, I spied a handful of the pins on my shelf. I scooped them up and went to pin this mitten!
As it turns out, the mitten was too thick to pin, I bent three pins attempting it and the other ones just slid out as soon as I was finished. I just sat and looked at the mitten helplessly for a few minutes, then attempted to get my mind together and think of a solution. I had sock blockers, but the bend for the ankle would make the mittens dry funny and I was having none of that. I was also not willing to bend the sock blockers out of shape. They were just made of wire though, so I could probably make my own if I could find some wire that would work. While my neighbour couldn’t find her pins, she definitely had a wire coat hanger.
I managed to bend it into the right shape and slide the mitten over top. It worked out perfectly! It only took me two hours to get it right. I really should have known better and not spend that amount of time on finding the actual pins and just thought of another idea. Everything worked out and now I have a wire hanger bit to block mittens on!