Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Norwegian Mittens (Knitter's Almanac)

Norwegian MIttens 2

Pattern: Norwegian Mittens from Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Knitpicks Telemark, Icicle (2 balls) and Aubergine (1 ball - just barely made it!)
Needles: US 3 DPNs
Recipient: ??

Notes: It's no secret, I have made a few pair of glittens, , gloves, and other handwarmy items in my short career as a knitter. Handwear are perhaps the knitted item appreciated the most by the naturally cold of digit (moi), and as projects are relatively brief, interesting, and portable. Call them the sock's hipster cousin, if you will. I do. These have been my go-to project since I started working and have limited knitting time, mostly on a crowded B train. They still took quite a long time since they were frogged not infrequently. Oh, and there were those two separate days when fellow subway riders asked me to please put my knitting away for fear they would be injured by the DPNs. Seriously. I had no idea exactly how uptight this rush hour crowd was until then. No friggin' idea.

These mittens are classic Elizabeth Zimmermann - she describes the Norwegian mitten archetype, and gives a pattern, which you see here, but really the "recipe" is yours to use for whatever pattern you like. Next time, I'll create my own motif, now that I am confident in the general idea. This pair is too large for me, but I've a holiday recipient in mind who does not read Fig and Plum. As the person drives an automobile, I am contemplating tricking out these mitts with suede patches on the palms to provide some friction.

Norwegian Mittens 016

Mittens are a great refresher course for colorwork. I hadn't done any since my last project out of Norway. The tension was all over the place as this project progressed, partly because my stranded knitting was rusty, and partly because I kept misplacing DPNs from the Crystal Palace set I was using and eventually replaced them with a different brand's US 3 that was, I think, .25 or .5 mm larger somehow. Why can't we just size by the millimeters?

Also, the first time 'round I placed the thumbs too high on the palm - even my short fingers were hitting the tip of the mitt. I ended up frogging and re-knitting the mitt portion of both hands before they were acceptable.

The one disadvantage of these is the positioning of the thumb. From what I can tell, it's a structural quirk common to all Norwegian mitts that the thumb is placed aligned straight beneath the palm (think: sock puppet).

Norwegian Mittens 024

The human hand, of course, more frequently includes a thumb sticking out at about a 45 degree angle from the hand. While it may detract from the symmetry of the back of the mitt, I prefer my thumb to jut out proudly at its natural angle, rather than be forced into some kind of permanent-shadow-puppet stance.

Norwegian Mittens 021

But, all in all, a minor beef. Norwegians have been cruising along with these mittens since time began, so I might get used to it, too.

In sum: Mittens = awesome. Norwegian mittens = the Norwegian word for "awesomer." I am en glad laks!!

Additional Photos:
Norwegian Mittens 014 Norwegian Mittens 019 Norwegian Mittens

[X-posted at Fig and Plum]


  • Very,very nice. I'm wondering -- could you get some of that clear stuff people use on the bottoms of socks so they don't slide on slick inside surfaces and put a little of that on the palms for driving? I used to hate mittens because I couldn't hold anything or drive or pick anything up...but the more of these pairs I see, the more likely it is that I'll try knitting a pair!

    By Anonymous Nancy J, at 6:38 PM  

  • Gorgeous work! I keep on eyeing these mits-love the length, how they generously cover the wrists (more colorwork to knit and keeps the snow out!).

    By Blogger the daily purl, at 7:24 PM  

  • wow you norgewiagn mitten knitters are really making me want to make those. i love the colors you chose. so gorgeous! the person you give them to will be so lucky and glad.

    By Blogger Rebecca, at 7:45 PM  

  • What a lovely pair of mittens! Would you like my address? hehehe

    By Anonymous Sara in WI, at 7:53 PM  

  • Love your mittens, the colors work so well together!

    By Anonymous tiennie, at 8:10 AM  

  • Beautiful mitts! And hey, at least they have a thumb gusset. I haven't been able to bring myself to attempt the kind where you just make a slit and pop a thumb on there with no extra wiggle room at all - those really do look awkward.

    By Blogger Sarah / Blue Garter, at 10:36 AM  

  • Your mittens are gorgeous! I love the colors.

    I'm the opposite on the thumb placement. I have long skinny hands and I vastly prefer mittens and gloves without a thumb gusset. Any pattern that pushes my thumb out away from the hand feels weird to me.

    By Blogger Nanette, at 1:54 PM  

  • They are just deliriously perfect.

    Love them! I'm definately not going to be able to complete the week without beginning some mitts for my boy.

    thanks for sending me over the edge of temptation with your perfect mitties.

    By Blogger Molly, at 3:58 PM  

  • Gorgeous. Perhaps there's a colour of Berocco suede that matches your yarn and you could do duplicate stitch with, instead of having to cover up all that lovely colourwork with leather?

    By Blogger Jenn, at 4:56 PM  

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