Category Archives: Reading Mitts


And its the cold, snowy part of the Boston seasonal experience.  Which is not improving my outlook much.  But there are bright spots.  We do what we can.

Here’s a free offering (also available via my Embroidery Patterns tab, above).  This motto just cries out to be a sampler, the irony of using an art that in and of itself requires intensive perseverance to accomplish is just too sweet.  Click on the chart image to get the full JPG, formatted for 8.5 x 11 inch paper. (Finished stitching sample courtesy of long-time friend Gillian, who was the first to post a finished piece picture.  Her’s is on 14-count Aida, finished post-wash size of stitched area is about 7″ x 9″.)

nevertheless       Gillians-Finish

And here’s the finish from Edith Howe-Byrne on even weave, showing her variant treatment of the concept, using other counted stitches and beads (she’s leaving in the gridwork so she can use this piece as a reference for additional projects):

Ediths-finish Edith-3

The alphabets used are (more or less) contemporary with the women’s suffrage movement – found on Ramzi’s Patternmaker Charts site, among his collection of vintage Sajou and Alexandre booklets.  The particular one I used for all three alphabets is here. The border is adapted from one appearing in a 1915 German book of cross stitch alphabets and motifs, in the collection of the Antique Pattern Library.

We all do what we can, and I encourage anyone with heartfelt opinions to use their time and skill set in service, as they see fit.  Even if you don’t agree with me, filling the airwaves with positive messages rather than caustic imagery can’t hurt.

If anyone stitches this up and wants me to showcase their effort, please let me know.  I’ll be happy to add pix of your work to the gallery here.

On my own  end, I have been productive as well.

First finished (but not first started) – a quick shrug.  Possibly even for me.


This is knit from the generous bounty resettled upon me by the Nancys, for which I continue to be grateful.  The multicolor yarn is older Noro Nadeshiko, a blend with a hefty dose of angora, along with silk and wool.  It is soft and supple, and although I am generally not a fan of desert colors – is superbly hued, with just enough rose, sage, cream, and grey to be perfect.  The accent edge is done is another of their gift yarns – two balls of a merino wool variegated single, worsted weight.  I held it double for extra oomph.  One thing to note about the Nadeshiko though – it sheds.  A lot.  And the Office Dogs where I work like to sniff it (it probably smells like a bunny).

The pattern is Jennifer Miller’s Shawl Collar Vest – a Ravelry freebie.  It is a no-seam, quick knit, written for bulky weight yarn.  The thing fairly knit itself.  Four days from cast-on to wear-ready.  My only criticism is that the XL size is really more of a 12/14.  I can wear it, but it’s very tight, and tends to emphasize attributes with which I am already more than proportionally blessed.  My answer to this problem will be to unravel the green finish rounds, and add about 2 inches of stripey, then re-knit the green.

The nifty pin is an official heirloom of my house.  Long ago and far away, SCA friend Sir Aelfwine (now of blessed memory) made it for me as a cloak pin.  Obviously I still treasure it and wear it when I can.

On the needles is also yet another pair of Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts, another free pattern available from Ravelry.  I’ve done four pair of these, but never for me.  I rectify that oversight now.


Obviously, the first one is done.  Now for the second.

The yarn is yet another denizen of the Great Nancy Box – a worsted weight handspun alpaca – chocolate brown with flecks of white and pale grey, from Sallie’s Fen Alpacas.  The photo doesn’t do the yarn justice.  It’s butter on the needles, and gloriously warm.  The only mod I make to the original pattern is using a provisional cast-on, then knitting the cast-on edge to the body on the last pre-welt row (to eliminate seaming).

My typing fingers will be toasty when #2 is done.


Two pairs, actually.  Now winging their way cross country to the recipients:


Both are from patterns available on Ravelry.  Left are Susie Roger’s Reading Mitts, and at right are Swirling Gauntlets by Susanna IC.  Both are knit from Red Heart Shimmer, one skein of which (plus four evenings) was more than enough for both mini-projects.


I mailed these on Monday, but I’m posting this ahead so that the package has time to arrive without totally spoiling the surprise! Shh!


Back from visiting Florida, my mom and sister (plus her family).  We had  a great time, feted like royalty on progress.  Special thanks to all, especially my mom, and to Chef Terry who pulled out all the stops for the holiday meal.


Sitting and chatting with mom did allow Motley to grow.  In order to keep color distribution even, I have been adding to both ends:


I’ve got some snippets of hers now in there, too.  I’m about two thirds of the way through the center rectangle, and am very pleased at how it’s turning out.

Muffattees (Fingerless Mittens)

Also, while we were there my two nieces expressed a desire for fingerless mittens.  I’m not quite sure why they’d need such a thing in Florida, but teenage fashion whims (when reasonable) can be indulged.  Especially when they are a quick knit.

For the first pair, I’m using the Reading Mitts pattern from Susie Rogers, available on Ravelry:


I’m about a third of the way through the other mitt of this pair.  I’m still looking for a slightly different but equally interesting design for pair #2.  Although I love luxe yarns, I’m no materials snob. The yarn for this one quite humble.  It’s a very soft Red Heart acrylic worsted with a subtle shiny mylar thread running through it.  Called Shimmer, it does, just a tiny bit, and has a very pleasing almost cashmere-like softness, which will feel nice on the hands.  I chose a washable yarn because even in black, mitts get dirty quickly.  The yarn is a bit splitty, but I’m happy with the result.

For the pattern, I knit the smallest size.  With this yarn on US #5s, it’s plenty big enough (the medium was too big for me and I’ve got gorilla paws).  The only modification I did to the pattern was to use a provisional cast-on, then knit the cast on stitches along with the live stitches to fuse the picot hem, just before the decrease row that sets count for the cuff pattern.  That ended up adding one row of width to the edging before the first purl row of the cuff.  Not noticeable.  Also users should note that the lace pattern is set up for an even number of stitches, but two of the three sizes as presented yield an odd number in circumference after the decrease row.  Just ignore the extra stitch and work it plain – on this item no one will ever notice.  Finally, the method for picking up the thumb benefits from casting on two rather than one stitch on the side facing the mitt’s body.  Even so, I advise leaving a nice long tail when you join the yarn to make the thumb.  The excess will come in handy to close up the rather large gap at the “thumb crotch”.

This pattern is a sweet little project for a last-minute gift.  Mitt #1 took two evenings.  Mitt #2 bodes to take less, in part because I don’t need to start, then rip back the medium size.

Modifications – Vintage Yarn Chart Rehab

I know that lots of folks who visit here are looking for my chart of vintage needle sizes, historical yarns as plotted against gauge and modern needle sizes (with a few modern yarn recommendations).  That chart was ported over in the Great Blog Migration, but arrived in less than readable condition.  I’ve ironed it out now.  To minimize confusion, I’ve modded the original post from 2005, rather than reproduce it here.  But I’m opening it up again for additions.  If you run across a pre 1930s pattern that calls for a specific yarn and vintage needle size, and you have made a successful modern substitution, toss a comment onto that page listing the original needle size and yarn specified, plus your modern substitutions.  I’ll add them to that chart.


Apologies for calling my mom’s companion, Honeybun, a mutt.  Mom would classify her as a “designer dog” – a mix of Maltese and Yorkshire Terrier, sometimes referred to as a Mookie.  But I needed the alliteration, and as long as I toss the toy or scratch behind the ears, I don’t think Honeybun would mind:


She’s a cute little bundle of fluff, and a very good apartment pal.

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