Published on Tuesday November 21st, 2006

I’m up to something new. I know I’ve got half a dozen projects on the needles already, but I had to cast on some Estonianish mittens. In my defense, I mean them to be a Christmas present for my neighbor. She likes ravens, and so do I. I like their loquaciousness and intelligence. So I set out to design some mittens with raven cuffs. Here’s what I came up with:


The basic blueprint for these babies is Nancy Bush’s Folk Knitting in Estonia. I chose a design I thought worked with my ravens, the Cat’s Paw. I tried a few other motifs, but it was tough to find something that fit the stitch count without overwhelming the ravens. Cat’s Paw seems to balance pretty well. Then I threw in a little two-color vikkel braid to frame the ravens. I say it all nonchalantly, but if you want the truth, it cost me all of the running time and most of the plot comprehension of Spike Lee’s Inside Man to figure it out. There was ripping. And more ripping. It was slow going even when I was doing it right. But I got the hang of it in the end, once I realized that I was making errors in the slipping of stitches. This is the sort of technique I could have picked up very quickly if someone had demonstrated it for me, but learning it from a book was a challenge. Want to see the palm side? Of course you do:


If you think you spy a striped thumb gusset emerging from the side, you couldn’t be more right. I have a beef about the constrictive thumb positioning on traditional Scandinavian mittens, so I cast aside all the wisdom of the knitting ancestresses (a thing I don’t do lightly, but sometimes a girl just has to blaze her own path) and decided to put the thumb where it makes most sense to me and where it can wriggle in opposable freedom as God intended. I should have been spacing my increases every two rounds instead of every three, I suspect, but the beauty of knitting is that you really can make it up as you go along. I’ve done three sets of increases every third round; now I shall switch to every two and see how we go. The cuff will just be a little longer, and that’s rarely a bad thing in a mitten.

The yarn is Jamieson Shetland Spindrift and the needles are US #3. The Spindrift is about as fine as you’d want to go for a mitten, but it’s a power for the colorwork. I’m making the mittens a bit large so I can felt them a little to make them warmer. The colors are black, port wine, and mooskit. If you can tell me what a mooskit is, I shall mail you a chocolate bar. ETA: Carrie is smart, good at research, and fast on the draw. And she clearly likes chocolate. A woman after my own heart. Go check out her beautiful new Salina.

Off for dinner at Apizza Scholls, a restaurant with a name I do not understand. I perfectly comprehend their excellent pizza, though.

14 Comments to “Quork”

  1. carrie Comment Says:

    MOUSKIT, adj. Also moosket, musket; muisket, -y (Marw.). Of a greyish-brown colouring, mouse-coloured, dun (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; I.Sc. 1963); grey with reddish tips to the hair (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). [ˈmuskət, ˈmøskət]
    *Sh. 1956 New Shetlander No. 43. 22:
    One of the lambs is mooskit-faced while the other is laavie-luggit.
    [Norw. muskutt, discoloured, of a dark, dingy colour

  2. gleek Comment Says:

    damn carrie! beat me to it 🙂 anyway, lovin’ the ravens on this AND the side thumb. really, that’s where all thumbs for mittens SHOULD be.

  3. brooke Comment Says:

    The ravens eyes and stance really stand out. Beautiful design!

  4. Kristen Comment Says:

    Oh, I LOVE the ravens. They’re my favorite bird – they’ve got such a wonderful social structure. Your thumb gusset is brilliant. It’s too uncomfortable in the usual position. Your neighbor is a lucky lady!

  5. Lisa Comment Says:

    The Ravens are a great personal touch! Can’t wait to see how they look all felted up!

  6. Kirsten Comment Says:

    Those ravens are FABULOUS!!! I love the mittens! I want a pair! Since I have recently gone on a mitten book buying binge, I guess I need to knit a pair myself – inspiration abounds on the blogs and in those books.
    As for the thumb placement, perhaps you are a knitting ancestress of the future. One of the wonderful things about knitting, is its organic evolution as each generation improves upon the innovations of the previous.

  7. Katie Comment Says:

    Very lovely. I hope to start some colorwork soon and these little mittens are very inspiring. I love that you just made up some ravens!

  8. Jen Comment Says:

    Those are seriously cool birds! They remind me of the ravens in Edward Gorey books. Fantastic!

  9. laura b Comment Says:

    Your colorwork is great! If I were doing those, I’m not so sure you’d know they were ravens.

  10. Nonnahs Comment Says:

    These are going to be fabulous! The ravens are brilliant!

  11. Jessica Comment Says:

    The ravens are great! What beautiful colorwork–your neighbor is going to love them.

  12. carrie m Comment Says:

    oh, those are just so perfect and cute and neat. i’m so jealous! between these and all of the EZ mittens i’ve been seeing, i think colorwork is in my future.

  13. Suse Comment Says:

    If I bribe you with a bar of chocolate could you be convinced to share your raven pattern with me. I’m tring to knit this: http://www.genealogicaljourneys.com/coats/kirwanco.htm

    But my choughs look more like guinea pigs then corvids… help, please…

  14. Blue Garter » Blog Archive » Abracadabra! Pingback Says:

    […] to think of it, I don’t believe we’ve rewarded good research on this blog since I wanted to know how the Shetland wool called mooskit came by its name. It’s time we did so again. And I feel knowledge of geography is frankly undervalued now that […]