Saturday 30 March 2024

Estonian mittens

 I've been wanting to knit estonian mittens a long time, and then really with thin needles, as it was done in the old days. The book Estonian knitting 3, Mittens, is an inspiration for that, with its huge amount of mittens and instructions on all sorts of techniques that come with the traditional mittens knitting.

In the light of my project 'Book knitting' I now knitted a pair of mittens from this book. No way that I would consider getting rid of this book, even if I would never knit anything from it, it is far too beautiful! But, anyway, this book knitting project of mine was the last nudge to pick a pattern.

The pattern I chose is a pair of mittens from Vormsi island. It is an island between the larger island Hiiumaa and the mainland of Estonia, with only a few hundred inhabitants and with beautiful nature.

My left mitten next to the mitten in the book - you can see the difference in the number of repeats.

Most of what I write below can also be found in my Ravelry project (link to the project) and is simply a repeat of the text. On the project page, you can also find some more technical details of the mittens.

I know that the patterns are knitted on extremely thin needles and that my 2.0 mm needles are a little bit too thick still, but that I what I chose to use. This made that I chose a little bit fewer pattern repeats so that the mittens would not be too big. I've never before knitted on 2.0 mm needles. Initially I was very conscious about it, but through the project it did'nt feel so difficult anymore. Also, the stranded knitting became a little bit faster, especially when I made an effort to knit with the very tips of the needles, instead of sticking in the needle maybe 2 cm, I only used the 0.5 - 1.0 cm of the needle tips.

The pair

Decreasing for the top of the hands was a bit difficult. The book said to knit the 'side seams'  in 'herringbone', which I understood to be in a checkered pattern. Each pattern repeat contains two rounds that are all-brown/dark, and there I made mistakes so that the checkered pattern wasn't very well visible. I did not want to re-do it. On the thumbs, I decided to do solid lines along the sides of the thumb, one white and one dark, which worked fine. Decreasing at the top of the thumbs, I found out that, on the solid brown rounds, I could simply slip the white stitches, which helped the side seams look uninterrupted even though there were solid brown rounds. When only my knitting at these decreases becomes more even, this will give really neat decreases.

At the top of both the hand and the thumbs, it was fiddly because of the steel needles slipping though the stitches, just sliding down on my lap when I wasn't observant enough.

A tiny bit small but they fit!

I now know that 72 stitches with 2.0 mm needles gives mittens in size very Small - next time I'll cast on more stitches.

Also, with my 72 stitches, I had an uneven number of the 8-stitch pattern repeat. This is visible in the thumbs, the thumb patterning isn't mirrored equally.

The book and the pattern were not yet in Ravelry, so I have set both up, which was also a new experience for me, and it went well. A very fun fact that I discovered today was that there is another raveller that has started knitting these mittens, so now there are alreay two projects linked to this pattern on Ravelry!

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