Old and new

On December 29, 2012, I found some spindle-spun Shetland in my stash. The roving was one of my first Etsy purchases – from Briana, who can now be found at Call of the Wool – and cemented my love of Shetland wool. Even this great affection, though, couldn’t keep the yarn from languishing unknitted since 2009. (To be clear: I did manage to knit a Swallowtail shawl, a pair of gloves, and a pair of fingerless gloves, but given that the purchase constituted a pound of wool, it wasn’t as if those three projects made much of a dent.)

At the same time that the Shetland resurfaced from the depths, so too did some Coopworth, another Etsy purchase from the time-before-time. Well do I remember the many curses that I shouted, glad that Knoll was too young to repeat after me, as I attempted to spin an even yarn with that roving. In retrospect, I was trying to force it into a yarn it didn’t want to be, and though it eventually submitted, it didn’t do so meekly. In a fit of pique, I stuffed it all into the bottom of the stash bin and willfully forgot about it. (Actually, the real story, much less melodramatic, does feature the gnashing of teeth and cursing of yarn, but more saliently involves the 5 colours in 1-oz bundles and me unable to think of a project for them.) So the lesson was two-fold: Coopworth would never cross the threshold of our house again, and all future fiber purchases consisted of at least 3 oz. of the same colourway.

Sadly, on December 29, my immediate thoughts did not run along the lines of “Ooh! Shetland! Coopworth! Mittens!” but rather “Crap! I had no idea what to make with this yarn back in the day, and the years have not enlightened me.”

Potential project the first: Faroese shawl in garter stitch, every ridge a different colour, in combination with some long-discontinued Drops Angora-Tweed. After 6 ridges, it became evident that my colour sense was suffering some kind of Christmas hangover (luckily, the rest of my brain apparently functioned well enough to realize as much).

Potential project the second: Triangular shawl in garter stitch. Why I believed that this project should succeed where the Faroese shawl had failed is not a question that I can answer at this time. Perhaps it will ever remain unanswerable: Lanja-logic, as Odd-Even has discovered, is often inscrutable.

Potential project the third: Top-down mittens a la Anna Zilboorg with a band of colourwork between the tip and the thumb. I charted a design; I fiddled with the figure-8 cast on; I muttered curses in English and Dutch and Norwegian until 2 in the morning; suffice it to say that the frog pond was a much-visited place last night.

Potential project the fourth: Combination mittens, wherein I use a provisional cast on at the wrist, knit the hand from wrist to tip, knit the thumb, pick up the provisionally cast on stitches and work the cuff downwards. (It wasn’t such a marathon as that sentence made it out to be.) If I’m knitting plain mittens, I can hereby assure myself of enough yarn to finish to the tips, and with a very finite supply of this handspun it seemed like a good idea.

So Potential Project IV lost its “potential” label and I spent the past few days merrily knitting away. The plan – namely to use the Shetland for the hand and two shades of Coopworth for a colourwork cuff – ended up at odds with the reality of the unending skeins of Shetland. And so I decided to save the Coopworth for another day and instead revisit an old favourite: the Mors du Cheval mittens knitted in 2009 for my friend Erik Bloodaxe.

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Those original mittens were knitted in bulky yarn and thoroughly felted in the washing machine. The newer version, however, is knitted in the equivalent of worsted weight and only fulled very lightly. Laziness dictates that I will write up this pattern in one size only – mine. So if the size of your hands differ greatly from a woman’s medium, I’d humbly suggest taking a pattern that you know will fit you (or your intended recipient), adding an i-cord edge, and then knitting a million miles of i-cord for the mors du cheval knot.

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Anyway, here you go. (This link goes to the Ravelry Pattern Page, so you’ll need a Ravelry account to be able to see it.)

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