Free Knitting Pattern: Cam’s Favorite Mittens

For a blog called Teish Knits, there’s not really much knitting content. Today I’m going to add a bit more knitting to Teish Knits, and I’m also offering my first free pattern download!

Back when I was in elementary school, we won’t discuss just how many years ago that was, a Sunday School teacher of mine knit me a lovely, thick pair of red mittens. I’d never had knitted mittens that were this thick and warm, and they kept my hands nice and toasty through endless sled runs, snowball fights, and snowman constructions projects. Naturally, I did outgrow them, but Mom held onto them and tossed the mittens in her basket for knitted winter wear. When my kids came along, some of those items resurfaced, and my middle son took a particular shine to those red mittens! I’ve looked for a similar pattern a number of times over the year, to no avail.

Yesterday Cam came inside and asked if I could fix a hole that had been worn into the thumb of his beloved mittens. My darning skills are not up to par, so I sat down with a legal pad, pen, yarn, needles, and the well-loved red mittens. My pattern isn’t exactly the same as the inspiration mittens, but it’s a pretty close approximation! When I decided to offer the pattern as a download on Teish Knits, there was only one option for a pattern name: Cam’s Favorite Mittens

I didn’t list a gauge in the pattern, so just pick whatever worsted weight yarn you like and choose needles that will give you a fairly thick, stiff fabric when knitting the yarn doubled. Don’t worry if the first pair isn’t exactly the size you wanted, they’ll fit someone! After knitting a pair, you can play with the yarn, needle size, stitch and row count, etc. to customize the mittens. I’m assuming that anyone using the pattern has a familiarity with knitting in the round, and mitten construction experience will be helpful too. If you find any typos, or have any questions about the pattern, please don’t hesitate to contact me via my website contact form. Just click on the link below to download the PDF.

Cam’s Favorite Mittens

You may download and use the pattern for your own personal knitting. Please do not sell the pattern, or download and repost on your site. Do feel free to share the link to this blog post though so that other knitters can download their own copy!

Knockout Knits Review

Now is the time of year when I get serious about Christmas knitting. Accessories are one of my favorite gifts to knit. So when I had the chance to review Knockout Knits by Laura Nelkin, I was thrilled!

Knockout Knits is perfect for a knitter who has mastered the basics, and wants to try out some interesting stiches and techniques. The accessories in the book are the perfect size for practicing something new. The patterns are divided into three sections, wrapped stitches, lace, and beading. Each section starts out with the instructions for the basics of the new technique, so you can quickly and easily reference it as needed.

I had to cast on the Prolix Mitts as soon as I saw the pattern! I’d never tried using wrapped stitches this way before, and I’ve quite enjoyed knitting these.

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I’ve decided that my next project from Knockout Knits will be the Cha Ching Mitts featured on the cover. I had no interest in trying beaded knitting until I saw the photo of these beauties!

If you’re just beginning to learn to knit or you are looking for simple patterns, then this might not be the book for you. But, if you’re comfortable with basic knitting concepts, and knitting in the round, you’ll have no trouble with the patterns in Knockout Knits. The patterns are clear and easy to follow. And the photography! The photos in the book are gorgeous! I love the full-page photos that really show off the knitting. They give me a close-up look at the beautiful stitch techniques used.

This is a lovely go-to book for gift knitting. It would also be a wonderful gift for the knitter in your life!

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.

The Scarf

My daughter has always loved scarves. She has quite the collection by now! My oldest son decided last winter that he would like a scarf, so I knit him a blue one out of chunky yarn. This year, my middle son has discovered how nice it is to wear a scarf when it’s chilly outside. No problem, I’m a knitter. A kid’s scarf is a piece of cake. Then he told me that he wanted a Doctor Who scarf…

I’ll admit, part of me was thrilled that one of my little geeklings had asked for a Doctor Who scarf. Then I realized just how big a project that is. My own well-loved Doctor Who scarf was knit for me by Mom. I wear it all winter long! But that’s a lot of garter stitch…

Then, I found a pattern on Ravelry for a kid-sized Doctor Who scarf. Shorter, narrower, and a fairly large gauge? The project was looking more manageable all the time. And since Camo’s birthday is in less than ten days, why not knit it for his birthday? (Yes, I’m clearly crazy.)

IMG_1142[1]I knit through movie night and stayed up half of last night knitting. I’m a bit over halfway done at this point. Well, halfway done on the knitting part. I’m trying not to think about just how many ends I’m going to have to weave in. It will probably take almost as long as the knitting. (Mom wasn’t exactly thrilled with that part of the scarf project either.)

Today will be filled with bread baking, reading, review writing, and of course, scarf knitting!

A Post About Knitting!

You know, with a web address of teishknits, there is very little knitting featured on my blog. I finished and blocked a summer sweater today, and that inspired me to write something of a product review.

Most knitters will wind up blocking something at some point. For the non-knitters blocking is the process of washing a hand-knit item and stretching it out to the correct dimensions and then perhaps steaming it before letting it dry. There are other forms of blocking out there, but I like the wet-blocking method so we’ll just leave it at that. Blocking helps the garment fit better, smooths out the stitches and if you’ve knit something like lace or cables, it really opens the pattern up. Blocking does knitting a WORLD of good! Even knowing that, I used to avoid blocking. It was when I heard someone on the Knit Picks Podcast mention that they loved blocking their knitting because they used the kookaburra wash and it smelled so nice. Well, I decided to give it a try.

I opted for the kookaburra delicate because I’m a sucker for anything lavender scented. I’ve used it twice now, and have been more than happy with the results both times. It smells lovely and I really appreciate the fact that you don’t have to rinse it out of your wool! Particularly since lavender naturally repels certain little pests that like to munch on wool. It doesn’t leave any stiff or sticky residue, but it does freshen up the fabric nicely. I use less than the recommended amount, but that’s true of any laundry detergent that I use.

After my knitting gets a nice lavender bath, I have to find a flat place to pin it out. That’s the real challenge around our house! A number of people just pin things out on their bed. However, I don’t think my waterbed mattress would take too kindly to having pins stuck in it. I’ve already drained the thing and put in a new mattress this year, I’m not doing it again. For kid-sized items my ironing board is big enough, but for adult sweaters it’s just too narrow. I’ve blocked things on my couch or living room carpet, but that must be done overnight while the kids are in bed so they don’t decided to play with my straight pins. Eventually, I’ll just have to invest in a set of blocking mats at some point. But for now, I somehow manage to find someplace to pin things out!

So, I’ve been converted at least partially into a knitter who blocks her knitting. There are still some items, socks, fingerless mitts, etc., that I don’t bother to block. Still, any of my sweaters that don’t go in the dryer get blocked before wearing and every time they get washed. I highly recommend that all knitters try blocking at least once. You may be amazed by the results! I would definitely suggest the kookaburra wash or kookaburra delicate to knitters or anyone who owns wool items that require some extra care. In fact, a sample-sized bottle of it might be a good inclusion whenever you gift a hand-knit sweater! You can find the small bottles on the Knit Picks website. (Not to mention an awesome selection of reasonably priced yarns and my absolute FAVORITE knitting needles!)

Don’t forget to give your wool items a little TLC before you pack them away for the summer!

Let the Games Begin!

The Winter Olympics are here! And with it come the Knitting Olympics and the Ravelympics. Non-knitters will have absolutely no idea what that is! Allow me to explain, the concept behind both is to choose a project that will be a challenge for you to complete, start it during the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, and finish before the closing ceremonies. That gives us 17 days to complete our knitting projects.

I chose to knit a sweater designed by Connie Chang Chinchio, one of my favorite knitting designers! The pattern is called Riding to Avalon. I’m knitting in in a washable wool yarn in a gorgeous color called Bordeaux.

Knitting an entire sweater in just over two weeks will be a challenge, especially with two little ones and one not-so-little one around the house. Still, I’m anxious to get started at 9 PM tonight. The first time I saw the sweater in the magazine, I knew that I wanted to knit it for myself!

I’ll post an update at the end of the Olympics. Until then, I’ll be doing a LOT of knitting…

Bloom Where You’re Planted

I used my crock-pot this week! That may seem like a mundane statement. You’d have to know me, I guess. My attempts at using a slow-cooker through my ten years of marriage have all failed abysmally. Just ask Aaron! I’d thought of just getting rid of the darn thing. Then I found out that you could dye yarn in a crock pot… That changed everything.

It all started because I need new oven mitts. I don’t like cheap, flimsy oven mitts. I have burned myself far too many times while cooking, and I like to have very thick, protective oven mitts. With this in mind, I decided to knit and felt a pair of my own. Using thick wool and then felting it to a dense fabric should do the trick. Wool is naturally flame-resistant, so it’s the perfect choice. I went to Knit Picks to order the yarn, and couldn’t find it in the colors that I was envisioning. No matter, I ordered four skeins of the un-dyed yarn and decided that I’d just dye it myself.

Many people use acid dyes to dye their fiber. I have three small children, and the safety concerns associated with acid dyes kept me from trying that particular method. I did find that you can use ordinary food coloring to dye animal fiber, such as wool. Aha! Safe, non-toxic, and I have plenty on hand for use when decorating cakes!

Monday morning I pulled out the crock-pot, wool, and food coloring. I had in mind three colors, robin’s egg blue, buttercream yellow, and deep red. They would match my kitchen perfectly! My walls are a pale, creamy yellow, the curtains a deep, rich red, and my cookware is a lovely shade of aqua that can only be called robin’s egg blue. I set to work and at the end of the day, I had bulky-weight wool in three hand-dyed colors. But they were a bit… off. The robin’s egg blue was a distinctly greenish color, in fact more green than blue. The buttercream yellow was doing a Big Bird impression. The deep, vintage red that I imagined was more of a bright, retro, orangey-pinkish tone. These wouldn’t match my “Vintage Farmhouse Kitchen” look at all! I was quite disappointed.

Then, I started thinking. Then, I started laughing. The hand knit and crochet pot holders in true vintage kitchens were made with whatever leftover yarn our grandmothers’ had lying around. The used it up because they needed a pot holder or oven mitt, and made it out of what they already had. That’s why all of the authentic vintage linens that we search for at yard sales and flea markets have some “unusual” color choices. They made do with what they had. Simple as that.

I had envisioned the charm of a farmhouse kitchen of yesteryear in a carefully coordinated palette. When in reality, great-Grammy’s kitchen was filled with a miss-match of colors and patterns that just worked! After all, it was her that made her kitchen our favorite place to hang out. It was the crazy patchwork quilt on her table, the hand-sewn curtains, the warm muffins fresh out of her woodstove, and the cool sun tea she always had on hand that I remember the most. That was who she was. The woman who could make something beautiful out of scraps, and who would never let you leave her house unless you had eaten SOMETHING!

Turns out that the yarn I had dyed wasn’t what I’d planned for, but it will work. That sort of sums up the past year for me. What I was handed was not what I’d planned, but it will work out. Gram always said, “Bloom where you’re planted.” I don’t have much choice about the circumstances that I find myself planted in, but it’s up to me whether or not I bloom.

Nervous Knitting

I fidget. A lot. That’s one reason why I knit. My hands HAVE to have something to do. If I did not knit then I would drive everyone near me crazy by tapping my fingers or clicking a pen. Knitting is good for those of us who tend to be fidgety.

It’s also good for those of us who are the nervous type. Like me. I’m knitting up hats for gifts right now and making excellent progress. When I’m nervous I knit faster.

What had brought about my case of nerves? I have an appointment with the dentist tomorrow afternoon. I’m a nervous wreck! I have not been to the dentist even once in the past 12 years. Yes, I know! I’ve just had other things to deal with than my teeth. Not to mention how freaked out I get at even the thought of dental work. I had three homebirths and yet the thought of a mere filling makes my knees wobble. Makes absolutely no sense, I realize this. I’m still nervous…

Do you suppose that I could knit while they fix my tooth?

Doomed

I am obsessed with knitting. I’m sure that my friends and family would tell you that. I can’t really disagree. I do love to knit, and if I’m sitting down, you will usually find needles and yarn in my hands. In an ideal world my yarn budget would be a little more… robust. Since I have to make the most of every dollar that I spend on yarn, I frequent the clearance racks whenever I have the chance to shop at a store that sells decent yarn. (I’m also a bit of a fiber snob, which makes yarn even pricier…) Imagine my delight when I found the most gorgeous teal blue wool in 284 yard skeins for only $2.50 a skein. I snapped up all four of the remaining skeins. At home I sealed them carefully in a Ziploc bag to await the perfect project for my 1,136 yards of beautiful blue.

I am also somewhat obsessed with the Interweave Press magazines. I really should subscribe to Knits, Knitscene and Crochet since I buy all of the magazines as soon as they come out anyway. The Fall/Winter issue of Knitscene contained a sweater named Carnaby Street Pullover. I HAD to knit it! It called for 1,160 yards of yarn. I figured that 24 yards would not make too much difference as long as I was careful, right?

NEVER knit a sweater from clearance yarn when you think that you have JUST enough to complete the sweater. I have a bit less than two skeins left after knitting the back and one sleeve. I have the awful feeling that I won’t have even close to enough yarn to complete the project. I should just frog the whole thing and knit something else with this lovely yarn. I really should… I know that if I keep knitting I’ll run out, be frustrated beyond belief, and have to rip it all out anyway. If I was smart, I’d just frog the back and sleeve right now…

I’ll post a blog rant in a few weeks lamenting the fact that I really don’t have enough of this perfect yarn to knit myself the perfect sweater. No one ever accused an obsessed knitter of doing the smart thing.

I Must be Getting Old…

The wedding quilt is done!!!! Actually, it has been finished for a little over a week now. Good thing, since the wedding is tomorrow. I feel like I should include a certificate of authenticity because, yes, this quilt really WAS hand-quilted, by me. Seriously. The really crazy thing is, I’ve started hand-quilting a quilt for Munchkin. This may become an obsession on the same level as knitting. I’ve had to take a short break from the hand-quilting because of a quilt-related injury. I can’t quilt with a thimble. I’ve tried, and I just can’t do it. So, I poked the eye of the needle rather deep into my thumb. Trying to quilt only pokes the needle back into the injured spot, and tears and shouts are the result. So, I will have to let my thumb heal up a bit. In the mean time, I’m sewing on another quilt top, and knitting Mr. Q’s birthday sweater. J Plenty to keep me busy!

My sister and I took the kiddos to visit our aunt, one of Mom’s sisters, yesterday. It was a wonderful visit, and we both enjoyed seeing her. She showed us her first quilt! She pieced it and is in the process of hand quilting it! Mom would be so proud of her!!! It is a beautiful quilt, and I have to admit that her hand-quilting stitches are smaller than mine! It makes me smile to think of how excited Mom would have been about her sister’s first quilt.

I’ve discovered that I’m getting gray. I’m really going gray! In just the past couple of months, I’ve started going gray! I had no idea that I was quite so vain, but the white hair thing is really bugging me! I’m going to go find a box of hair color and have my sister color it for me. OK, stop laughing now. Really, I mean it, stop laughing, it’s not funny… Maybe there is a bit of my grandmother in me after all. She was gray by the time she was 30, and she colored her hair too. Can anyone recommend some good red haircolor???

I had a moment during this past week when I put the kids down for their nap, sat with my head in my hands and thought, “I really wish that I knew what I was doing!” I began to wonder if Mom ever had those moments. Moments when we don’t have a clue what to do. I think that perhaps all mothers have these moments, at least, I hope that I’m not alone in this! I wish that I could go back to the time when I was little, and perhaps Mom felt discouraged and tired, and just put my arms around her and tell her, “You’re doing great. Don’t worry, you’re the best mom that those two little girls could ask for. And one day, they will tell you that themselves.”

One of Mom’s friends said something to me earlier this week that has really stuck with me. She said that even though I only had Mom for 28 years, Mom gave me more in those 28 years than some daughters get in an entire lifetime. There is so much truth in that. Mom gave us so much of herself. I guess that means that there is that much more to miss. Still, I would not trade one second of my life with Mom for anything. The grief is deep, because the love was deep. The irony of life. The more we love someone, the more we are affected by their absence. It makes me long even more for the day when there will be no more good-byes, no more tears. And until that day, grace. Grace for the moment.

Quilt Through All Sickness!

It’s days like this when I really miss Mom. All of us woke up with a cold this morning, so none of us are feeling great. I’m a bit worried about Camo, since the last time he had a cold, he wound up with an ear infection. He’s got a fever and is terribly fussy. I know that they typical question is, “Is he pulling on his ears?” In my Camo’s case however, that isn’t much of an indication, since he tugs his ears anytime that he’s tired, upset, or feels poorly. I so much want to call up Mom and say, “What do you think?” She would just know. She gave me great advice when it came to the kiddos. That’s something that I REALLY miss now.

I’m quilting away on a gift quilt. (Read: Quilt that must be finished in two weeks.) It’s not terribly big, but I had planned to quilt it by machine. I don’t do hand-quilting. Yes, you sense a “but” coming… I decided to hand quilt a few hearts on the quilt. Mom always said that a quilt must have at least one heart, because it’s made with love. OK, I’ll just quilt a couple of hearts and then do the rest on my sewing machine, right? Yeah, well, not so much… Once I got started, I kept going, and going, and the whole thing is going to be hand-quilted, by me. This is unheard of. I should issue a certificate of authenticity with this thing, because no one will believe that I actually hand-quilted a quilt. (OK, they might start to believe it when they see how horribly uneven my stitches are.) Anyway, I’ve got almost the whole quilt quilted, except for the border. Then Joyce and I have to put the binding on. Joyce would help me quilt, but our hand-quilting stitches do NOT even come close to matching. Hers are tiny and neat, the way that hand-quilting is supposed to be. Mine are huge and uneven, and are not likely to improve anytime soon… So, I am quilting my fingers to the bone, or at least it feels that way at times! I’m going to finish it though, on time! I am determined to!!!! Of course, I did not count on getting this really nasty cold in the process. Elizabeth Zimmerman said to “knit through all crisis” so I’m going to “quilt through all sickness”! I’d better get back to the quilt… right after I find some tea…