Mittens Galore

I went on a mitten knitting jag. Yup, lots and lots of mittens using the Any Gauge Mittens, Top Down pattern. I think I’m done now. Here’s a long post to tell you all about it.Any Gauge Mittens group

Yes, lots of black. I had quite a few balls of black chunky weight Northern Lights in my stash and well, can you go wrong with black for young people and men?

These are for me because they match my new butterscotch coloured winter coat. The colour block pair (Navy and Apricot) will go inside my striped pair. I knit the stripes first, a little bit big. Then with a smaller needle and the same stitch and row counts, knit the second pair. One pair fits nicely inside the other. I used almost all of the two balls of wool.DSC_0030 (2)

I did the same for this pair for my daughter, who is a mitten wearer. I noticed she had a very bedraggled pair of mittens that I knit her several years ago. Long overdue for a new doubled up pair.DSC_0032 (2)

We have a new member of our family, my son’s partner, so I knit her a pair too (worsted weight). She liked the fingerless mitts I knit her so maybe she’s a mitten wearer too. I put a pattern down the back of the hand to keep me amused.DSC_0031 (2)Here’s a tip: For the Right Hand you work the Palm first and the Back of Hand second. For the Left Hand you knit across the Back of Hand first and then the Palm. Now you can add any pattern you like to the Back of Hand. I’m sure you have a couple of favourites that would fit nicely.

Once I had done all these mittens I started to get the second mitten syndrome. Oh, no, I wasn’t finished yet. I had a couple more pairs to go. So I took on a new to me technique, two-at-a-time. And it was a synch, ha, ha, ha, ha!!

It took me 3 times to get the cast on done and redone and redone again. Then I was on my way, except for the two times I joined up the two mittens. If you’ve done the two-at-a-time thing you probably know what I’m talking about.20191207_121250.jpg

The correct tools do help when you’re trying something new and I didn’t have them. I don’t own a long circular needle in size 5.5mm/US9 with a flexible cable. I have older needles with cables that don’t bend too well. So … I thought I would try using 3 circular needles along the lines of those flexi sock needles. The ones that are 3 very short circular needles with half your sock on one needle, the second half of your sock on a second circular and knit across with a third circular needle. I haven’t tried them. Have you? Did you like them?flexiflipsIt sort of worked. There was a lot of clacking of needle tips above my knees but that’s sort of music to my ears.20191207_153336 The next pair I knit I had a correct circular needle for Magic Loop method (still rather new to me) but no problems this time (worsted weight). 20191208_1132140.jpg

You Can teach an old dog knitter new tricks. This pair is for our friends who we see this weekend. DONE with the mitten thing, at least I think so.

Are you knitting for the big holiday? How’s it going?


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Any Gauge Mittens, Top Down

Mittens, they’re a small, a portable project and quick to knit. Do you have a pattern you knit over and over? It works. You know exactly how to do it because you’ve done it so many times before. Or do you download different mitten patterns to try something new? A new stitch pattern, a different yarn or a different way of doing them? It can make knitting mittens an adventure.

These are mine. A new pattern: Any Gauge Mittens, Top DownDSC_0012 (2) - Copy

They start at the top, yes, the top. That way you can dive into your stash and pick up any ball of yarn and get started right away. NO SWATCH. I love that.

Work increases until they are the correct size. GAUGE DOESN’T MATTER. In fact, nowhere in this Top Down Mitten pattern is it referred to. Not once.

If they’re for you, knit until you can fit your finger tips into the mitten top.DSC_0018 (2)

You also get to knit the thumbs from the top too. That’s the exciting part. It’s knit as a giant I-Cord on two double pointed needles. Quick, really quick.

Check out the Video: Any Gauge Mitten, ThumbMitten thumb

What do you do with all those ladders? You hook them up with a crochet hook, just like a dropped stitch. It’s magic!

Video: Hooking Up the Thumb LaddersNAA mitten P1020890

I’m experimenting with videos as you can see. Ha, it’s a learning curve for sure. I’ve made videos to go with each section of the mitten knitting. You’re getting all the info you would get in an Any Gauge Mitten, Top Down workshop. Let me know if this works for you.


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3×3 Cardigan and Mittens coming along

I have been working on my Any Gauge 3×3 Cardigan. Thanks for all your help. If you didn’t read the post last week, I needed some help in choosing colours. I’m really happy with the Blue/Brown/Purple combo.DSC_0571

I’m at the Great Divide and am taking a moment to admire how the colours have come out. There are many garter ridges along with the stockinette rows which give it quite a bit of texture. It also means there is more knitting than purling, Bonus!DSC_0566

Next is to place the sleeves (video). They will sit inside the Raglan Lines which you can see are very wide apart at the shoulders. I would like to do something to extend the lines down the body. Hmm. Still thinking.

Once the Divide is done it will really look like a sweater. I can’t wait.

Meanwhile I have been working on a new pattern: Any Gauge Mittens. It’s based on a workshop I have given several times. This is actually a Gauge-Free mitten. Gauge does not come into it at all. We don’t measure it, we don’t even think about it. It doesn’t matter. So you’ll be able to dive into your stash and cast on with whatever wool and needles you like. Whoopee.

To do this you have to begin the mittens in a different place, the top, and work the mittens down to the cuff. These are my new pair for this winter (knit in Northern Lights chunky weight wool by Cabin Fever).DSC_0559

These are the very worn out pair that needed replacing. They have served me well.dsc_0563.jpg

Converting from a workshop where I am there to guide the knitters, to a pattern where the knitter has to read it and work it on their own, has been a challenge. I am finding I can’t write in everything I would tell you if you were in my class. So this week I’m working on some videos so that you’ll be able to take me home with you. I don’t eat too much, I’m happy to talk knitting any time and I’ll even sleep in your wool room where the yarn fumes will lull me to sleep!


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How much Ease?

That’s what I’m asking myself as I knit the Top Down yoke of my 3×3 cardigan. How much ease do I want to add to this one? I’m working on an Any Gauge Raglan Cardigan where I get to make the decision for how much ease to add to the body of my sweater. All my decision. When I work the Divide Row I’m going to add the ease (extra stitches added at the underarm to make the sweater several inches bigger than my actual body at the bust). But how much?

Have you ever measured all your sweaters to see what size you really love to wear? Try this. Get out your measuring tape and measure around your bust, then around the chest of different garments. Look at the difference in the measurements. I bet you regularly wear garments with a wide range of ease: positive ease ( garment is larger than your actual bust measurement) and negative ease (smaller than your bust measurement).

There are charts for this. Here is one from the Craft Yarn Council.

Standard Ease

I usually knit to the Classic Fit with 3″ of ease. But … I’m starting to rethink this.

Here are some sweaters with various amounts of positive ease. Sweaters worn by me and my daughter who is several sizes smaller. Here we go.

A wool sweater from the Need A Cicular Yoke book by Cabin Fever, in Tuffy wool by Briggs and Little. It’s an Aran weight (Heavy Worsted) knit at a gauge of 16 sts = 4″.

Left: My sweater with +3″ of ease.  Right:  Morgan with +7.5″ of ease. I love this sweater and wear it all the time. Morgan liked the fit of this one, really comfortable. The waist shaping really makes this sweater work for both of us. On Morgan the sleeves are too big and it is 2-3″ too short but we would both happily wear this.

Now let’s go to a heavier weight of yarn. Any Gauge Raglan Pullover in Rowan Chunky Tweed knit to a gauge of 12 sts = 4″. 

Left: Me with +5″ of ease. Right: Morgan with +9.5″ of ease. I find this sweater really comfy and could even have gone with more hip ease but Morgan said it was too sloppy for her. If I was knitting this for her I would fill in the neck to make it smaller which would make it look and feel like a better fit. This one is long enough, with nice long sleeves.

Three more to go. Any Gauge Raglan Pullover for a vest in Worsted Weight wool by Dragon Strings, knit at a gauge of 20 sts = 4″.

Left: Me with +1″ of positive ease. Left: Morgan +5.5″ positive ease. I have always found this vest slightly uncomfortable and now I know why. One inch of ease feels a little tight, especially over a top. I can block it slightly bigger so I will wear it more often. Morgan thought this fit nicely on both of us.

My favourite. Any Gauge Raglan Pullover in Solid Sock by Mineville Wool Project. knit at a gauge of 24 sts = 4″.

Left: Me with +1″ of ease. Right: Morgan with +5.5″ of ease. I think this one works for both of us. I might block mine slightly bigger for comfort. Because it’s a light weight sweater with A-line shaping and a tunic length it works for two different sizes and figures.

Last One. Any Gauge Cardigan in various canadian wools knit at 18 sts = 4″.

Left: Me with +5″ of ease. Right: Morgan with +9.5″ of ease. This is a really comfortable  amount of ease for me but is huge on Morgan. It’s a stiffish fabric that doesn’t mold to a smaller frame.

My conclusions are:

  1. For a firm knits with heavier yarns 3-6″ of ease seems to work really well. The sweater is going to hold it’s own shape. I would make sure there is waist and hip shaping to give the sweater a curvy look.
  2. For a sweater knit in medium weights of yarn producing a nice soft fabric, the Classic Fit of 2-4″ of ease works really well. More ease coupled with a longer length would also work.
  3. A finer fingering (sock) weight sweater can look great with any amount of ease from 1″ to as much as 7″ or maybe more. A sweater with a nice drape and A-line shaping in a longer tunic length can be knit with lots of ease and still not look over-sized.

What has your experience of ease been? Do you have a favourite amount of ease that works for you? Were you astonished by the range of ease in the garments you regularly wear?

I can’t wait to hear from you,


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Choosing 3 colours, Help!

Do you have trouble picking colours? I do. Right now I’m trying to choose 3 colours for one more 3×3 cardigan testknit. Why do three colours always seem so much more difficult to pick than two? There is help out there and lots of it.

Variegated yarns. That’s the help. Hand dyed or commercially dyed, people who do dyeing know more about putting colours together than I do. So I’m going lean on their expertise.

Do you have another way of choosing colours? I’d love to hear about it (leave me a comment).

I have a bag of dark brown wool and I thought it was time to use some of it. But what to put with it? Brown is out of my normal colour range, which is blue, and I love orange too, if you haven’t noticed yet. But what goes with brown? Wait, don’t I have something in my stash that has brown in it? Of course I do.20191109_114418

Brown and several other colours too. Lots of choice there. I’m stash diving to see what else I might have to go with the brown. I found 3 balls of purple. Yay. Can’t go wrong with purple. Now one more colour. I wish I had the blue in this weight but I don’t seem to so I am going with black.20191108_102439

I think this combo might work out OK. This photo below is closer to the correct colours. 

I keep thinking I must have some blue somewhere. I’m off to search …

Ah, ha, here’s some. 

What do you think?  Do I go with Brown/Purple/Black  OR  Brown/Purple/Blue????



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Any Gauge Raglan class at Eastern Needlers Retreat

There is always something new to learn in knitting. I passed on my knowledge in two Any Gauge classes and took a class myself to learn something new to me.

Last weekend at the Eastern Needlers Retreat I taught my Any Gauge Raglan as a cardigan. The classes were amazing. Everyone hung in to the last, using their own measurements to knit a little vest or sweater at 1/5 scale.20191104_091250

Nancy finished hers by the next day. Fantastic.IMG_20191103_120847


It’s not possible to do all the knitting needed for the real sweater although several students wished we could. Me too.

I started this one as a sample.20191104_091058


We did all the tips and tricks I could manage in the time: double buttonholes, extra bust width, sleeve placement, amount of ease and raising the back of neck. Phew, yes it was intense.

On Sunday I got to take a class myself. A real treat for me. Mairi introduced us to Twining. Wow. It’s a Swedish knitting technique that twists the stitches between every stitch. It’s not as hard as it sounds. It can also make colour patterns. Look at my wrister. Cool, eh?20191103_113201


And you know how I love weird and wonderful charts!! And these are different, v-e-r-y interesting.

A wonderful weekend. Thanks again to Debbie Wilson of Sheeps Ahoy for inviting me.

Hope you had a terrific weekend of knitting too,


Any Gauge patterns by Deb

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There was a waiter

Knitters are systematic people. We usually come up with a system to help us work through a pattern.

We can use markers to delineate certain parts of our pattern, we can write down each row as we knit with ticks or row numbers on a separate piece of paper, we can rewrite every row of instructions so that it’s in a language we can recognize, we can move a post-it note down the page to highlight each row to knit. There is some sort of system that works for each of us that has been developed over the years to help us work through both simple and complex patterns.



Then there was the waiter at the retreat we were just at. He could not seem to match up food orders with the person who ordered. Not once over 6 meals. It was not crucial and we weren’t complaining but actually taking quiet delight in this young man’s confusion. We all got the meals we ordered or almost always.

We asked if he was new. No, he had been working there since May. So for 6 months he had been working in an entirely unsystematic way. It was interesting to watch. He took our drink order, then moved to a new spot around the table to take the food order, and then a brand new location for dessert. How on earth was he going to keep track that way?

It became apparent that he, very slyly, did have a system. We were an integral part of it. He would bring 2 plates to the table, hover over a couple people like these might be their meals, announce what the meals were and wait for us to raise our hands. That’s a system!! A somewhat impractical system since we were all talking. Believe it or not, without realizing it we all bought into this system by the end of the weekend. We paid attention every time he approached the table. We even had one or two people at the table who kept track of who ordered what so they could direct him. Maybe he was very clever with his system after all.

I have to keep this in mind when I teach. I work up a system that will help the knitter work through the pattern with comfort. It totally works for me and I scratch my head when it doesn’t just click automatically with everyone. To me it’s so straight forward and easy! But everyone has their own way of providing themselves with a system that helps them navigate through the instructions. My system is a visual map.

triangle Shawl plan Tier 2

“I will provide a system for you to hate”, says my friend Susan, meaning I will provide you with a starting point so that you can dislike it and then manipulate the system (pattern) into whatever works best for you.


It was fun at the retreat to teach the same basic shawl construction over and over and see how people approached the decisions about which stitch patterns to add within the construction.

Thanks for reading,


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