Archive for the 'Rovaniemi' Category

All Thumbs

Monday, May 7th, 2007

Lynne (still blogless, but not for long, I gather) asked the other day about the “secret” of the thumb shaping on the Rovaniemi mitts. Ain’t no secret. I think I already mentioned the increase ratio earlier on, but I sometimes forget that one little remark like that doth not the whole story tell. So in case anybody is interested, herewith some details. This isn’t exactly a proper formal pattern, as such, but at the rate I’m going it will probably become one eventually.

Oh - I found the ball band for the Shetland, BTW; it’s an antique, but just for giggles, here it is:

Ayr Ball Band

Ayr Shetland wool in “Harbour Blue”; a single 1-oz skein made both mitts. “Medium” Weight? I’m not up on my Shetland nomenclature, but it looks and feels like a 2-ply fingering weight to me. US #000 needles, 9 sts x 14 r = 1″.

The main body of the mitt is 66 stitches around (fudged down to 64 for 2×2 ribbing).

The intarsia pattern is 33 stitches, but it pulls in a little, so even with a framing stitch on either side it looks slightly narrower than the half of the tube it represents.

Rovaniemi chart

That’s two reps. The > marks indicate stitches to be worked TBL; I’ve used the same symbol that appears in the original Rovaniemi charts but have placed it somewhat differently. Near as I can make out, they mark all pattern stitches that move to the right; in each instance I only mark the stitch that actually needs to be worked twisted in order to make the stitch below it look right. (I could blather on a lot more about this; one of these days I probably will.)

The pattern is centered on one stitch, and so is the thumb - so you’re always working in odd numbers of stitches.

So let’s see. Cast on loosely, 64 sts. Work about 20 rounds (I think - don’t make me count them!) 2×2 ribbing. Work one round plain, sneaking in two increases. Then start working in pattern. I did one rep (i.e. 10 rows, for those keeping score) straight before I started the thumb shaping.

The thumb is built around a single stitch, offset slightly - about 1/2″ - from the edge of the mitt, or 5 stitches to the right (or left) of the rightmost (or leftmost) color pattern stitch. (I’m proud to say I actually did manage to remember, before it was too late, to make the second mitt a mirror image of the first.) I placed a marker on either side of said stitch.

Rovaniemi Thumb Gusset

(You could use fancy ones like these or these - me, I just used a couple of my ancient tried and true split rings. Love me some split rings. Is anybody still making these? Probably not. They always discontinue the good stuff. I treasure my little hoard.)

Split Ring Markers

Then I worked paired increases, just inside the markers, in every third row. (I like the raised bar increase, and I have to admit that at this gauge I did not bother making them symmetrical! but of course you can if that is your kind of crazy.) After I’d done this 5 times the gusset was 11 stitches wide and I started the diamond pattern, which is [A] optional and [B] simplicity itself:

Rovaniemi Thumb Diamond

I kept going like that (with one plain row between diamonds) until I’d done 12 sets of increases, making the thumb gusset 25 sts wide.

Rovaniemi Thumb Gusset

Then I threaded the thumb stitches off onto waste yarn, and used the end of the waste yarn to make three half-hitches, which I used as a provisional cast-on for three stitches to rejoin the round of the main body of the mitt. Worked a round or two and then got rid of the two extra stitches with a pair of decreases on either side of them. Then kept going in pattern till I had a total of 7 reps. Dropped the colors. Decreased 2 to get back to a multiple of 4. Worked 2×2 ribbing for 10 rounds; purled 1 round to make a turning point; worked 10 more rounds reversed 2×2 ribbing (so the k stitches correspond to the p stitches on the first section, and vice versa); worked an integrated bind-off hem.

Picked up the thumb stitches and worked the three provisional stitches: 28 sts. The rest of the thumb is pretty short - another 6 rounds, 1/2 pattern rep - which is just time enough to work the two pairs of decreases that bring it down to 24 sts. I work them above the joins, so again on either side of the 3 provisional sts. (Actually, I think I created 2 extra stitches when I picked up the provisional ones, then decreased those out in the next round - it’s a good way to close up the gaps at the joins.)

Rovaniemi Thumb Join

Then 10 rounds 2×2 ribbing and a stretchy bind-off - I used EZ’s “sewn” bind-off and made it as loose as I reasonably could.

Then weave in five zillion ends… block (very important!)… and it’s done.

Funny thing is, I still don’t totally “get” the fingerless mitt thing. But now I’ve got a pair, and something tells me these aren’t my last.

Finnish Object

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

As of last Friday night, the Rovaniemi mitts are done! Blocked and everything - done done done.

Rovaniemi Mitts, blocked

Rovaniemi-style fingerless mitts. MC is fingering-weight Shetland yarn from my stash, CCs are Persian needlepoint yarn. As I hoped, blocking makes all the difference. As with Fair-Isle colorwork, the wool strands just nestle together into a smooth interlocked surface. Which is exactly why I used Shetland as a convenient substitute for the traditional Satakieli. Yes, it had utility of location, as they say in the bond market - and besides, it was free. But more to the point, it had the texture and the proto-felting tendency needed to make this kind of pattern come together.

Just in time for, um, summer….

Rovaniemi Mitts, on hands

Yeah, well… it’s winter somewhere. Knitting knows no season, right?

Here’s the thumb:

Rovaniemi thumb

And here, ah, here, is the inside:

Rovaniemi inside

See the base-color floats?


No. Because they’re woven into oblivion by the intarsia strands. The only visible floats worthy of the name are the small vertical ones between the center diamonds. That’s what I love about this technique - it cleans up after itself.

Remember these?

Nine Tailors color swatch, front half-emptyhalf-emptyhalf-empty Nine Tailors color swatch, back

Same trick. Look at the bottom of the picture on the left and you will see that there is, of course, an 8-stitch float behind the current row of colorwork. Look at the picture on the right and you will see that in each row that float has been secured and neutralized by the CC stitches. At the end of one of these projects there is always one float left - the last one - and that is all. The rest are neatly tucked away by the process itself.

In both cases it works because the CC strands move vertically; because (except for the central diamond motif in the Rovaniemi pattern) each CC strand appears once in each row, and for not more than two stitches; and because when the CC strands DO move laterally from one row to another it is never across more than two stitches, in fact usually it’s only across one stitch. Those who have compared the process to weaving - or rather the results to woven fabric - are exactly right: to all intents and purposes the floats are woven in.

The longest float in the Rovaniemi pattern is 7 stitches, across the widest part of the central diamond. The longest visible float is two stitches - because that is as wide as any of the CC panels ever gets. I love this so much, I almost want to wear it inside out.

The longest float I’ve done so far in the change-ringing colorwork is 8 stitches wide, because Kent Treble Bob Major (the only method I’ve knitted so far) uses 8 bells. Because of this weaving phenomenon it would be eminently possible to do wider patterns - and in fact I have started sketching out a couple of Maximus (12-bell) methods. The only potential problem with that is that change-ringing colorwork has no elasticity at all - another respect in which it resembles tightly woven fabric. The Rovaniemi pattern does still have some give to it, because most of the intarsia panels (it’s hard for me even to call them that, BTW, because I hate intarsia, but this is intarsia entirely devoid of the end-weaving and tension nightmares that normal intarsia is heir to) are two stitches wide; whereas the change-ringing intarsia panels are only one stitch wide, and that one stitch makes all the difference. Also because in the Rovaniemi pattern the base-color floats are short, alternating with the CC segments, whereas in change-ringing it’s always one long uninterrupted float behind the whole colorwork panel. (And yes, I’ve tried interpolating base-color stitches. It looked… awful.) That doesn’t make it impracticable, but it means a whole different ballgame as regards calculating ease and drape.

Tomorrow Next time I post I plan to show you some of the sketches and cable swatches for change-ringing projects in the works. One of them being, of course, the Nine Tailors sock. But there’s more to this than just Tsocks. There’s Tsweaters - I’m thinking big for Fall.

Many thanks for all the kind wishes and virtual chicken broth! The worst of this, this, this THING - whatever it was, cold, flu, bubonic plague - that’s been going around was violent but mercifully brief. For about two days I was a total waste of space; now I’m merely pathetic. (Translation: functioning just fine, but taking full feeble-invalid advantage of the remaining symptoms. Cough, cough.) The annoying thing is that it came at crunch-time on Cookie’s Garden and put me behind schedule. This is nobody’s fault but my own, I suppose. Racing deadlines is part of my MO and I’m not sure I can finish things if I don’t have that pressure driving me. Which is fine as long as the odd unforeseen disaster doesn’t strike; but it leaves no margin for error. At any rate, Cookie’s Garden did get into the mail two days ago, and ptui ptui ptui I spit through my fingers and cross them and touch wood that it reaches Jennifer today and gets yarned-up and turned around in time to ship this week.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with my fainting couch….

WHEN will I learn…?

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

WHEN will I learn not to say things like “…and I plan to blog about it tomorrow night”?

Not that it wasn’t true. Oh, how true it was.

And not that the yarn didn’t get here today. It did, and it’s simply splendid.

And not that I didn’t get off to a good start on the knitting of the new sock today. I did.

But then I did make a silly mistake and have to frog an inch or so and lose momentum. And then I did get distracted by unexpected real-life crap. And now here I am breaking what doesn’t quite amount to a promise, but still feeling just a little bit egg-on-face.

And not only that - I only just stopped myself from following the previous line with “but now I’m making good progess again so I should really have something to show tomorrow.” WHEN will I learn????

(Now? Maybe.)

Other unexpected matters: knowing that today was likely to bring said lovely sock yarn, was planning to clear decks by finishing the Rovaniemi experiment last night (do we detect a Road-to-Hell theme here?), and came pretty close, but got sidetracked by variations on other themes, to wit: I’d been sketching out a new cabled version of the change-ringing thingy, and yes I have drawings which I’ll show you tomorrow soon, and then last night we sat down to watch a TV show about change ringing (which turned out to be pretty lousy and not really about change ringing at all…), so with only a little ribbing and a quickie thumb left to do on the mitt, what do I do but up and cast on a change-ringing cable swatch instead. And no, I haven’t taken pictures yet, of either one, but I will tomorrow soon, and then I’ll post same immediately when I get a chance.

Meanwhile, I did actually get the Blue Stocking pattern finished and sent out last night (do let me know if you were expecting a copy and I somehow missed sending you one). And the next job on that front is to organize the download page for future use. Which I’m going to do right this minute as soon as I reasonably can.

(Trainable. I think.)

REALLY Good Therapy

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

New Rovaniemi, 6 reps

One more rep, I think, and then some ribbing and our work here is done - unless of course I decide to go for the full mitten…. As with the bell-ringing colorwork, the actual process is oddly compelling.

New Rovaniemi, Thumb Gusset

This time the thumb gusset is about as close to perfect as such a thing is ever likely to get. It’s offset about 1/2″ from the edge… pretty much like my, um, thumb. Increases every third round rather than every other (what was I thinking, that first time?) - won’t know for sure till I knit up the thumb but the size seems promising. And BTW - here’s a little tip. When you’re semi-improvising a thumb/mitt/glove that is hand-specific? do yourself a favor and start with the one for the non-dominant hand. DUH!!!! Makes the trying-on a whole lot less traumatic/annoying.

New Rovaniemi, Thumb Detail

Same thumb detail as before, but started lower on the thumb.

I do still love the colors in the the salmon-sushi version - but I also think we’ve got a winner here.

In other news, I have finished - AT LAST! - correcting and fleshing out and proofing the Real version of the Blue Stocking pattern. Still have to test the PDF, and then it’ll be in the mail. I do still want to make a proper download of it, but don’t want to take the time to build the pretty interface for that while I know people are waiting. So the download will be set up for the next raft of requests.

Jennifer reports that the deeper-dyed version of the springy multi is in the mail today, so I hope to be knitting that on Thursday, at which point I can quit being mysterious about it because I’ll really have something to show-&-tell.

Also on today’s agenda, finishing and re-writing and felting of Swan Lake. I have been faithful to thee, Cynara, in my fashion….

On the personal front, my grateful thanks for kind wishes in both comments and e-mail. (I think I’ve responded privately to all, but please forgive me if I haven’t - I’ve been a bit addled.) I hate being all coy and cryptic, but it’s somebody else’s privacy, don’t you know, and on the other hand I felt that saying something, even if I couldn’t be very explicit, would be better than dropping off the face of the earth with no explanation at all. By way of report - well, there’s progress. It isn’t as rapid as one could wish, but it is progress, and that’s what matters. Right? RIGHT? Right.

Good Therapy

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

New Rovaniemi

We Interrupt This Swatch

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

Change of plans. Actually, domino-like cascading changes of plans.

First of all, as of this morning, I had pretty much determined that this

Rovaniemi Experiment

is not going to cut it.

Yes, I’m really pleased with it in a lot of ways. I think the colorwork came out well (especially in the, um, more recent repeats). And I like this detail on the thumb

Rovaniemi Experiment Thumb

(especially in the, um, more recent repeats).

But there’s a lot wrong. Gauge and size for starters.

The traditional colorwork panel is 33 stitches wide, and that means the mitt pretty much has to be at least 66 stitches around, or close to it. Yes, you could fudge that a bit and have the colorwork wrap a little at the edges. But that ain’t traditional, and it don’t seem right; I didn’t want to do it. On the other hand, the mitt is definitely too big, the ribbing too flabby, and the gauge too loose to make the colorwork lock the way it should.

That was the substance of the original change of plans. I knew when I began this day that I was going to have to hunt up the #000s I couldn’t find when I started, and swatch afresh (and then… shudder).

What a difference 1/4 mm makes!

1/4 mm

OK, I realize the picture doesn’t really tell the story - but the numbers do. On #00s I was getting 7.5 stitches and 12 rows to the inch. On #000s, 9 stitches by 14 rows, and an exponentially firmer and tighter fabric. Not to mention that at this gauge I’ll get something that fits.

Speaking of fitting, I also had a serious issue with the thumb gusset. I made it twice, once pointing straight out to the side, which pushed the colorwork panel too far the other way; the second time I did some fearfully strange and daring frogging

Frogged Thumb
This picture was taken BEFORE the thumb picture above!

and juggling and piecing and shifting and fudging, only to overcompensate - thumb shoved over too far into the palm this time. Now to the other extreme you’re tending….

All of which turned out to be academic because I’d also overshot the increase ratio, so it ended up shaped more like a puffed sleeve than a proper self-respecting thumb gusset.

By this time… I wasn’t so sure I still loved the colors either. Yes, I think they work. And they remind me alternately of cantaloupe and honeydew or salmon and cucumber, both felicitous pairings. But… would I ever wear them? Maybe. I don’t know. In any case, since I had to start afresh anyway, I decided to try something totally different.

I didn’t actually frog the original one. I have a ton of that blue shetland in the stash, courtesy of a swap shed foray. And I just… well, you know. Frogging the thumb gusset was trauma enough for one week. So this one has been quietly shunted off onto waste yarn and will live in limbo for a while. And the next palette will probably be…

Next Rovaniemi Palette


I’d gotten that far, and had packed it all in my bag to head into town, and then somehow I got all imbrangled and missed my train. Called client to let her know I was running late and she proposed rescheduling to tomorrow.

That’s the second change of plans. So I sat down to cast on, but I knew my minutes were numbered and that a third change of plans was in the offing. Sure enough, no sooner had I bound off the gauge swatch than there was A Noise at the door… and it was the package I was expecting. See, I knew all along that by going into the city today I would miss the arrival of this package and that that would give me a little extra time to play with these mitts get some of this backlog of work done on the train, all the while eating my heart out for what was awaiting me at home. Conversely, the moment that plan went West I knew it was going to have a catalytic effect on all the other plans. Memo to staff: All Rovaniemi experimentation is hereby placed on the shelf… indefinitely.

Here’s what was in the package:

Yarns for Spring Sock

These are the preliminary yarns for the next sock - there’s one more color still to come. Jennifer has really outdone herself this time. This is so exactly what I asked for it’s almost scary. Remember I wanted to cast on something lovely and frivolous and spring-ish? Well, here goes - weigh, log, wind, knit! I’ve spent the rest of the day swatching like mad. I’m not quite ready to go into any detail about this yet… but if you’ve been reading this here blog for a while (or if you’ve known me in other contexts) you have seen these colors before… and there is a clue to their source and their future, buried right in the archives.

One more change of plans: though I’ve shelved the mitt itself I did still intend to discuss the technique tonight - got some good compare/contrast pictures of that and the Interminable Kent Treble Bob Swatch to show you, by way of illustrations for an explanation of differences and similarities, and how and why they both work. But… the day got out of hand and it’s late and I’m tired and I have to go into the city tomorrow (guess what’s gonna be in the knitting bag…!), so I’m afraid the colorwork dissection will have to wait for another day. It’s still on my mind, very much so - the day won’t be long a-coming. But I just ain’t got it in me right now - nor will I tomorrow, I imagine, after slogging around town all day.

Oh… here’s another reason I don’t feel like going into the city:

Dwarf Irises

Man, I sure do love me some teeny-tiny little iris reticulata…..