We had a bit of a cold snap here in New Orleans last week. I feel a little guilty even bringing up the subject after watching the National weather forecast. Doesn’t feel like we’ve got much to complain about. Nevertheless, I was extremely happy to have a bag of good Canadian woollies to snuggle up in, especially my mittens. Oh, I’ve got leather gloves, and fingerless mitts and all that stuff but really, when the temperature drops, there’s nothing like a nice warm pair of mittens…good for the soul!
Mittens make great gifts! Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be posting about mittens, the various methods, thumbs, cuffs and shapings. I’ll be posting a free-for-a-limited-time mitten pattern every week and its matching hat pattern will be offered at 50% off in my Ravelry shop. Coupon codes are at the bottom of this post.
This week, I’d like to offer my Fresh Snow Mittens and the matching Fresh Snow Hat. They make a beautiful gift set when worked together in a luxury yarn. It’s quick and fun to knit both, but they operate quite nicely as separates, too.There is something so elegant about classic aran knitting. Strong, raised lines criss-cross to create surface movement while deep textures, like timeless moss stitch, add warmth and richness. Fresh Snow presents a clean and striking diamond and moss cable accented with whimsical bobbles to create a bold motif. Both the hat and mittens are worked upward from a provisional cast on with I-cord edging applied as finishing. Shaping is worked cleverly into the cable background lending a smooth, seamless look to the classic styling. Mittens feature a fully-fashioned thumb gusset.
Both hat and mittens begin with a provisional cast on which is a handy little technique to know when you want to keep a cast on edge “live”. In other words, a provisional cast on allows the knitter to easily pick up live stitches and continue to work them. It is particularly useful for knitting things from the center outward or when working directional stitch patterns like this:
In the case of Fresh Snow, stitches are cast on at the bottom and kept “live” so that I-cord edging can be applied to live stitches instead of having to pick up stitches from a cast on edge. There exists an I-cord cast on, but it always looks sloppy to me so I almost never use it.
There are many ways to do a provisional cast on; some are better than others for specific purposes. In theory, a provisional cast on should remove easily by pulling one particular strand (like a bag of charcoal or dog food) but I’ve almost never been able to get it to work that way. Many knitters like a provisional cast on that’s crocheted around a knitting needle. Generally, I like to keep it simple. I just work 4 or 5 rounds in waste yarn before starting in with my project yarn. For the waste yarn, it’s best to use something just a wee bit thinner than the project yarn. I prefer plant fibers for this job because they’re often a little slippery and won’t leave wooly fibers imbedded in the project yarn. It’s easier to snip away if the waste yarn is a different color than the project yarn, although I’d be careful of huge contrast in case some little fibers are left behind.
If you’re interested, here are some directions and diagrams for a different type of provisional cast on. Here is a video tutorial. Both are taken from the Interweave Knits Glossary. And now without further ado are your coupon codes. These are valid for one week. FRESHSNOW1 gets you the free mitten pattern while FRESHSNOW2 will take 50% the cost of the matching hat pattern. Happy knitting!