Monday, October 26, 2009

Gotland Gloves and Airplane Knitting

Two weeks ago, Dave and I flew to Denver to judge 3 days of agility trials for the Terry-All Kennel Club. It had been 70 degrees in Denver. That weekend, a big, arctic storm drove in to the Great Plains from Canada, across Montana, Wyoming and into Colorado. Sub-freezing temperatures and snow was predicted for the weekend. Of course.

We both packed for cold weather. Alas, I couldn't find my fingerless gloves, so, at the last minute I threw in a skein of handspun and a circular needle, guessing, at size 9.

This was no ordinary handspun - oh, no! It was a sample I'd taken from a Gotland/Shetland lamb fleece, before sending out the rest of the fleece for commercial spinning (for a friend). The 4 oz raw fleece became 2.8 oz of carded batts (along with a bit of blue mohair and turquoise Shetland for accent :-)

I hoarded the batts for a while, then finally spun them up at various events - Sumner days, Island County Fair.... They made a beautiful skein of yarn. And then it sat. It went to more events and got fondled whenever I could engage folks into talking about Gotlands.

Then... packing day for Denver. Arctic cold. Impending snow storms. Unheated arena. Three days of judging... and AWOL mitts.

I started knitting on the airplane. It was cozy. My (other side) seatmate marveled at how I could knit on and on... and on. "Don't your hands hurt?" he asks. Well, no. At least not yet.

I made up the pattern as I went, guessed at how many stitches, had to redo the thumb once. I wanted the top to snug my hand, but let my fingers spread (for signaling to the scribe during the agility trial), so put a wide ribbed band there. I fit checked often (!) and the yarn felt so smooth and soft against my hand. Yes!

The first glove got finished as we taxied in Denver. The next day it was still in the 50's with ominous black clouds coming in from the North. That evening it started snowing. I finished the second glove that evening in the motel room, using a bobby pin to work in the ends (since I'd forgotten a yarn needle (!) My hands would be warm in the morning!
Well. It was COLD in the morning. In the teens. There was snow on the ground. We cautiously drove to the trial site and walked into the building where ... it was warm. There *were* heaters in the building. Four of them, and they'd been running all night. Dave and I started peeling off layers. My beautiful gloves stayed in my pack along with my handspun, handknit (Shetland) wool hat.
When we flew out the next evening, it was already thawing, and the next day it was back in the 60's.
I'm ready for the cold!
- Franna


Theresa said...

Oh Franna, very nice! Love the color blend! Ok - now the pattern please?

I've done quite a few mitts but always on much smaller needles. Size 9's would work up in a real hurry! Mitts are a good seller.

Washed up several mule fleeces the other day and picked them today. Carded about 1/2 ounce just to see how it would feel as roving -oooh, nice! Can't wait to spin it up.

Becky Utecht said...

I love the colors too Franna. Nice job! Your story reminds me of June, 2008 when Kim N. and I went out to Jackson Hole, WY only to find snow and freezing temps. We had to quickly buy ourselves warm coats and some yarn to knit up mittens! Fortunately I had my needles packed and my basic mitten pattern committed to memory. :-)

Michelle said...

What a great story - and great mitts! I've only done the kind with a thumb hole; I think I'd like the thumb "sleeve." Here's wishing you get lots of opportunities to wear them this winter - but don't send that bitter cold our way!

Bill Stearman said...

Great story Franna ... and great mitts! Post the pattern as they look/sound even simple enough for ME to knit (I LOVE big needles ... :-)

I am trying to teach one of my 'boys' to knit using #17 needles ... thinking it might require less fine motor control. It isn't going well, but he is trying and still having fun!

Franna said...

Pattern? ahem. I made it up. (grin) Cast on "enough" stitches (about 30), join and work K1P1 in the round until it's "long enough". I like to use circulars so I can try it on periodically. Change to stockinette, increase 1 st. each side of the "thumb stitch(es)" until it's "long enough". Divide for the thumb/hand. The thumb increases made too many for my thumb (look closely and you can see this in the photos), so I took the center "enough" stitches (16?) for the thumb, joined them in the round, worked 1 round stockinette, then change to K1P1 ribbing and worked the thumb until it was "long enough", bind off. Go back to the hand, K 1 round in stockinette, pick up 1 st at the base of the thumb. Change to K1, P1 ribbing and work until "long enough". Enjoy!
- Franna

Franna said...

Becky, I loved Jackson Hole, was there in the winter long ago at -25F! Then in June years later, chilly at 30 to 40.

Michelle, the thumb "sleeve" is just a smaller tube, you just need to increase stitches to do it. You could actually increase anywhere around the hand (ala Cat Bordhi' sock patterns), it wouldn't have to be at one side.

Bill, the really big needles are actually more awkward for me. 8's to 10's are the most comfortable for my hands.

Theresa, I've heard the mule fleeces are nice. They should really have pretty luster and dye really well.

Thanks for the comments!