Saturday, March 5, 2011

Waterfall Mitts

With the increasing availability of free patterns and the ease of finding them on Ravelry, it's easy to sidestep paying designers, or to think that they charge too much for their work. But when you sit down to do it yourself, it becomes very clear that what designers do is not simple, easy or fast.

Take these mitts. I loved making these mitts.. once I got things to work. But that wasn't easy. I started knitting them in the round. I tried magic loop. I tried DPNs. I had problems with the yarn slipping and sliding, making "ladders" in the knitting, and with needles completely falling out of the stitches. I also started with a completely different lace pattern, the Tilting Squares pattern to match the cowl. Unfortunately, Tilting Squares don't resize well. They don't easily come out to match the circumference of a hand with the stitch counts you can manage with them, and they loose their charm when knit as a panel that is anchored on either side because they no longer have the freedom to tilt.

I found all this out by knitting the first of this pair of mitts over eight times, and ripping out my knitting each time.

I will say one thing. All that abuse gave the yarn (Textiles A Mano "Lucerne", 65% cashmere/35% silk) a chance to shine--and I'm not just talking the silk content. This yarn is strong and durable on top of being beautiful and luxurious. When it could have turned into a partly-felted mess, it still frogged easily after multiple times being knit. It continued to knit up beautifully even after all that working, and once both mitts were completed I couldn't even tell which one had been worked more!

Waterfall Mitts

These mitts are knit flat, so that there won't be any odd stretching of the fabric. Trust me, they are much more fun to knit flat than to struggle with any of the various methods of knitting in the round. In addition, you must knit the section of the thumb-hole flat, anyway.

After being knit flat, the sides are seamed using the tails of yarn from the cast-on and cast-off edges. Working from the edge to the middle lets you control exactly where the thumb-hole falls, and how big it will be.

Once seamed up, the lace-in-ribbing expands and contracts to cling to your hands in a sheathe of warmth. And, what can I say? It's cashmere/silk. They are wonderful, if I must say it myself.

Waterfall Mitts
But knitting is only half the work. Then you must write it down, make sure you wrote it down correctly, be certain that other people will be able to understand what you wrote when you're not there to explain it, and then make it look lovely. And then it helps to have someone else double check, test knit, and re-read to make sure you didn't slip up on something simple and obvious (or even on something incredibly obscure).

I have to admit, I look at the pattern-costs on Ravelry differently now. I see the hours of work that went into the project on top of the creativity in the design.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that these mitts are also for sale on Ravelry, now.


Artifax said...

What a wonderful blog you have! And what a perfect blog background!

I can so relate to all your thoughts on designers and paid patterns vs. free patterns :) I definitely think there's a place for both. Everyone loves free stuff, especially in these economic times. It's a great commitment free way to try out a designer's work or sample a new technique or a new style of clothing. On the other hand, it is an investment of many hours of work (+ yarn cost to make/test multiple times) to produce a commercially viable pattern and asking a few dollars to help cover the development costs before sharing the benefits of them is very reasonable. My two cents lol :) Btw, your mitts and the matching cowl are fabulous! And that yarn looks divine!

TinkerTots said...

Thank you so much! I've been enjoying your blog as well ever since the exchange of blogs on the Oregon Knitters group in Ravelry!