Sidekick Saturday! Sara Part 2

Enter the two-colour knitted mittens. Now, I know what you’re thinking (No, I’m not actually psychic… but I can hazard a good guess).. “She’s rather bold to start knitting something so.. intense.” And yes.. I am *wink* … but I had a great friend at my side helping me along the way. She taught me to properly purl.. instead of adding on a stitch every time (oops!); she taught me how to catch my yarns across x number of stitches, and she lent me her set of 4mm double pointed needles. (while they have their place towards the end of my mittens and even for the thumb… I dislike the way they look at me).IMG_20140709_150617

I searched high and low through Ravelry to locate a nice mitten in a Norwegian style, as that was the look I was going for. I came across a free pattern for “Selbu Mittens” and immediately looked through all of the different colour palettes people had tried. I already knew my colour selection – a sparkly winter white contrasted with gorgeous evergreen. Michelle and I searched a local yarn supplier for the goods – with her help, I settled on Cascade 220 for the dark green and Sirdar Snuggly Pearls for the winter white. I originally bought two balls of the white (a slightly lighter weight yarn than the Cascades 220) and one skein of dark green. This was enough to do 5 full individual mittens, and I still have some leftover before starting the second mitten of the third pair.

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That’s right…the third pair! I chose these two specific colours because they’re my wedding colours. My bridesmaids dresses are all dark “pine” green and our accent colour is glittery/sparkly white. It took what seemed like forever to finish the first pair. I followed the pattern exactly (with a bit of a change to the cuff) and boy was it intense. I am very proud of these mittens, even if they’re a bit wibbly here and there. I don’t knit every night..sometimes I’m just not in the right mindset. I might have –plans- to knit, but either I fall asleep, or I get distracted on pinterest or doing other crafty things. As such, this first pair of mittens did take me the better part of forever to complete.

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Originally I had planned on making my bridesmaids (x3) all the same pair of mitten – the same exact pattern. But after creating the first pair and realising just how long it took me to finish them, I thought it might be a smart idea to create a slightly less daunting pattern. The first was a traditional Norwegian snowflake, the second, a more simplistic star pattern. It went quite well. Onto the third – the pair I’m half way through completing. This last pair will be for my MoH – I decided to create her pair with a pattern of hearts, dots and two little stars. It turned out better than I could’ve hoped for. I have yet to complete the thumb on the first mitten and I still have ends to weave in, but its lookin’ pretty fancy.

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I used Excel to plan out the same number of stitches as the original mitten pattern and then used dark green to colour in a different design. This basically included counting out the main “square” of the pattern I had gotten from Ravelry and selecting those boxes on a new excel spread sheet. After outlining those boxes, I added the triangle of boxes that makes up the finger-area of the mitten and also counted out boxes where the thumb gusset is. Once I had selected and outline all the boxes, I changed the settings in excel to make all of the boxes more square like (as opposed to the rectangles you start with on a new spreadsheet).

instructions for excel (basic)

I would definitely recommend saving at this point as “blank mitten pattern” so that you can use it for any and all future designs for this style of mitten. This came in handy for me because I needed to create two separate designs for my bridesmaids. I feel like this is a really great way to slowly work into creating your own patterns from scratch. You take what you learn from a pattern you love and try to change it up a little to fit your own style. Since I’m not selling these mittens, I don’t feel too nervous about using the same base as the original Ravelry pattern.

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My plans for future wedding knitting include a pair of fiddlehead mittens for myself – I’ve chosen only three colours in keeping with my bridesmaids’ mittens. A soft winter white (slightly warmer), and a mellow sage green – still my wedding colours, but a bit less contrast involved. I chose periwinkle blue for the lining. If I don’t manage blue anywhere else, this can be my “something blue” for the wedding! I have no doubt that the pattern isn’t as crazy as it seems, given that Michelle wrote a wonderful post about it (“honourable mentions”). She mentions the pattern appears quite daunting, but turned out to be enjoyable to knit and a great learning experience. When it doubt… “googleit”

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I’m hoping to have enough time for a secret project for my hubby-to-be using one of Michelle’s gorgeous jewel toned greens. I will have to fully research the pattern I’m considering and ask some intense questions before I commit myself. And I will likely have to knit it in secret so that the man-friend doesn’t know what I’m creating.

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This rounds out my two part post on an introduction to two colour knitting…not concise at all! I hope to write again soon for Michelle’s blog before potentially starting up my own page to showcase new and exciting expressions of creativity.

Sidekick Saturday: Sara

Hello all! Welcome to my first guest post! Every time I have a guest post I am going to put them on a Saturday for SIDEKICK SATURDAY!! I doubt there will be one every week, but Sara has given me a two-parter. For the first segment… an introduction about her post Muddling Through Mittens – Fun with Two Colour Knitting.

Before I dive into the intricate nature of multicolour knitting, I’d like to start with a brief introduction *The word brief in this context is a red-herring… I’m almost never concise. I would consider myself to be a close friend of our fearless blogging & knitting leader, Michelle. Though through the years we’ve grown apart geographically speaking, we manage to keep in touch as best as two ladies can while simultaneously yarn-crafting, working and planning weddings (just one and a half months between the big days).

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Our friendship blossomed during our final year at University. My boyfriend (and now fiancé, soon to be hubby) and his housemates lived just two houses down from Michelle and her ladies. As Michelle and Paul‘s relationship developed, and as mine did with Piotr, the time Michelle and I spent together grew as well. With graduation from University, and specializing through college (for us ladies), it became more difficult to get together on a regular basis. Thus the need for pre-scheduled creative gatherings.

I have always been a very creative and crafty person (not to toot my own horn), and I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to express my creativity. Most of my creative outlet (before the takeover yarn has had in my life) was through drawing, painting, sculpting, photography and paper-crafting (usually cards). I worked at an artist’s supply store throughout University and before that I worked at my local library (delving into the spooky past of bookstacks and the dewey-decimal system).

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One day on a much needed “est-fest” (a happy term coined by this blog’s captain), Michelle was sitting on the couch surrounded by her feline companions and many much yarn. I was intrigued to say the least. That was the beginning of the end! Michelle first taught me how to crochet – I always liken the difference of knitting and crochet to skiing and snowboarding:

Knitting: two needles, yarn VS Crochet: one hook, one yarn. I feel it is much more simplistic.

For my beginner years, I was definitely looking for simplistic. After a trip to the craft store for supplies, I was well on my way to crocheting my first blanket… in single crochet. For anyone who is aware of crochet terms and stitches… crocheting a BLANKET out of single crochet is just.. a lesson in futility. This project has never been finished. Its still sitting the bowels of my knitting cave amongst many balls of yarn end-bits, destined to one day become a beautiful granny square crocheted blanket. This was however, a turning point – I googled, you-tubed and read countless online guides about crochet stitches, patterns, symbols, and the such like. I even found a wonderous blog (Lucy’s “Attic 24”) full of colour, patterns with step by step photos, even non-crochet/yarnly things like fun recipes and crafts. After many years of crocheting for pleasure – and even for very small profits (a market bag here, a matching slouchy beret and mitten set there…even a large purple polkadotted giraffe..don’t ask), I decided maybe Michelle was onto something with this mysterious hobby called “knitting.”

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Not that I had never knit before, but it was always something very small…very not useful…and always just one colour. My mum would often cast on a few stitches for me during Christmas Holidays in primary school… I’d get bored after a few rows and she’d cast off. I never really made it past that. But in these recent years of yarn-fun, I had crafted many decorative pillows, some gorgeous blankets (that my puppy might have eaten…maybe.. he did, I just can’t bear the thought). I always looked at Michelle’s amazing colour work sweaters, intricately stitched scarves (esp the criss-cross one! I believe is called Entrelac), and really fun socks… thinking “I wish I could make useful things like that.” Blankets and decorative pillows are very useful, but I needed to expand my horizons.