Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Mitten - The Cast of Critters

I've been avoiding this post.

It's rather a silly thing. First, I avoided making the post because I didn't want to "give it away". This ensemble was created as a Christmas gift for my niece and nephew (and really for their Mommy and Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa as well, since I knew they would all share).

Second, I avoided making this post because... I knew it was going to be so darned long. Blogging each little animal, when I understood so little of exactly what I had done, intimidated me. (But as I have decided this post will not explain how to make each individual creature, I have gotten past that fear.)

But, as Sandi Wiseheart actually mentioned me on her blog (SQUEEEEE!!!!) I figured I'd better get off my butt and get this one done!

Forgive me repeating myself just a little bit. I set out this Christmas to make Kitten Mittens for my niece and nephew. The nursery rhyme is near-and-dear to me, because it was hand-embroidered on my crib quilt (which later became my twin-bed-quilt when a 1-foot border was added on all sides). I loved my quilt and its whimsically embroidered kittens, each searching for their mittens through blades of grass. When the idea came to me to knit mittens for the kids I decided that just two wouldn't do--instead I would knit three that didn't match. Kitten mittens, as it were.

I wanted to send the story, too, and started hunting up books that would work. There are quite a few versions out there, but none with which I fell in love. But while hunting, the woman helping me said, "Oh, but you must read The Mitten!. I'd never run into Jan Brett's books before, but I instantly fell in love. And the more I read it, the more I became convinced that I needed to make this story.

I started with the mitten itself. I dug through my stash to find some appropriate handspun--in this case a sample of Cheviot I had received in trade. I had just about the right yardage and a good weight of yarn. I improvised a mitten using an article called "Progressive Gloves" (Interweave Knits, Winter 2003) and a related article about thumb gussets, which I have used many times to create gloves and mittens in the past. It was easy to knit up, and if it came up a bit short in the fingers it hardly mattered, since it was only going to be stuffed with the next step in my plan... the critters!

In this story, a little boy pleads for a pair of white mittens to be knit by his Grandma. She eventually agrees, even though she thinks he'll loose them in the snow. When he goes out to play, predictably he immediately looses one mitten. While he continues to play, a whole host of animals crawl one-by-one into the mitten to get warm.

I worked from two patterns I found on Ravelry, one for "Owlets" and the other a "Baby Polar Bear", but the rest of the animals I improvised. I had particular fun with the rabbit (crocheted from 100% handspun angora yarn) and the mole (made from handspun CVM) but the rest were completely adorable as well. Each had its own quirks and I became noticeably more adept at creating what I wanted as I went along.

I've been asked several times to write these up as patterns, and I'm seriously considering it. The major hurdle is that I hardly know how to read crochet patterns, much less write them. Still, should the time present itself sometime this year, I may try to tackle the task.

And I'll be sure to post them here!

The Mitten - AnimalsThe Mitten - AnimalsThe Mitten - Animals
The Mitten - AnimalsThe Mitten - AnimalsThe Mitten - Animals
The Mitten - AnimalsThe Mitten - AnimalsThe Mitten - The Cast of Critters


KT said...

SOOOOO cute. what a wonderful gift for your family. each of those critters is such a little character, it's impossible to pick a favorite.

Anonymous said...

A different version of that story was my absolute favorite story as a child, I made my mom read it to me over and over and over. But in that story the little boy doesn't find th emitten it is so stuffed with the animals that a little grasshopper squeezes in and it bursts and all the animals are forced back out into the snow. This story is extremely simlar to that story and I love your version.

hert said...

That is awesome! I have read this many times to my girls. Please let me know when you have patterns done, this would make an awesome present for a teacher. Our Grade 1 teachers have Jan Bret as author of the month and this would be so much fun to give to them.
hert (Rav. name)