Let’s Hold Hands…(review and giveaway)

Open Kate Atherley’s newest book, Knit Mitts, and you’ll quickly realize two things.  Kate lives somewhere that gets seriously cold, and she isn’t afraid of numbers.  Spend a few more minutes with the book and you’ll start to see that she’s decided use her fondness for figures to make absolutely sure you can keep your hands warm this winter!

She’s done this in two ways.  The first is by writing twelve awesome patterns.  There are mittens, gloves, and fingerless gloves (all in a truly impressive array of sizes), and they’re adorned with a lovely mix of cables, colorwork, and lace.  But as delightful as the patterns are, it’s the stuff at the front of the book that I really want to call your attention to.  This is the other way Kate’s keeping your hands warm…by giving you all the information you need to make exactly the pieces you’re looking for, with or without a pattern.

There are lots of charts and tables (the break down of hand sizes and proportions is ridiculously useful, as are the yarn requirement guidelines).  There’s plenty of info about yarn (hint…animal fibers are your friend) and keeping out the wind (I told you she lives somewhere cold).  Needles get some attention (I’m not alone in my love for DPNS).  And of course all the bits that might be frustrating in making gloves or mittens are addressed (yes, you need to swatch…yes, there are things you can do to help prevent ladders between needles or holes at the base of your thumb…yes, you totally are cool enough to manage gloves).

I’ve knit more than my fair share of mitts over the years (these were just the first five I found as I wandered around getting ready to take a picture of the book), and I would happily recommend this book to anyone wanting to knit a few pairs of their own.  If you like to just relax and follow patterns, it’s got you covered.  And if you’d like to dive a little deeper, there’s more than enough information to get you started designing something of your own.

The only thing I’d add (if I had a magic wand…and any business at all messing about with someone else’s awesome book) is some talk about flared cuffs/wristwarmers.  We all know I have a shameful weakness for them (those were the ones in easy grabbing distance from my desk) and knit them any time I can get away with it.  I think Kate just lives somewhere cold enough that she wants a bit more coverage than they provide!

But even though cuffs aren’t specifically covered, the info at the front of the book actually gives you all you’d need to create a pair of your own.  If you spend some time with the chart covering wrist and hand circumferences, and read the bit about distributing increases evenly across a round (and maybe take a look at some of the pretty alternative cuff ribbing options) , you’ll be well on your way to making up your own.

If you’d like to make some mitts of your own, the good folks at Interweave have a copy to give away over on my instagram account.  Check out this post for all the details.  And when your hands are warm this winter, think of Kate!

Interweave sent me a copy of the book to review. The image of the book’s front cover belongs to them and is used with their permission. 

Wanna pet the knits?

So every now and then I pack up a bunch of knitting, offer up a small sacrifice to whatever spirits keep things safe in the postal system, and send trunk shows off to yarn shops.

This is your periodic reminder that if you want one to turn up at your local yarn shop, you can have them get in touch with me (just send them to pantsvillepress.com, there’s wholesale info there).

I know it sounds a little funny, but a lot of my best yarn shops found me because their customers came in knitting from my patterns or showing off one of my books at knit night.  Your yarn shop wants to know what you like!

There are Silk Road Socks shows at two stores right now (A Yarn Less Raveled in Danville CA and Hooked in Haddonfield NJ), and they’ll be visiting other shops in the coming months.  I’m sure they’d love you to stop in and say hi!

Behold…an actual slipper

So first came a few decreases.

Then everything got all joined up.

And then it really started looking properly slipper-like!

Now I just have to remind myself (firmly) that my foot is a wee bit longer than the foot form and do one more repeat than I think I need to, and we should be done.  And really, the toes on these are going to be unspeakably adorable.  Promise.

Oh, and this seems like a good post to point out that the blog happens on a bit of a time delay (one post is often a few days of knitting).  If you want these updates in something closer to real time (because I’m sure you’re sitting up nights wondering what I’m up to…), you can always follow me on instagram.  Things tend to go up a little sooner there!


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Round and round or back and forth

So the way these slippers go together, you work flat for a while and then you work in the round (they’re built a lot like Quiescent if you played with those).  And whenever you go from working flat to working in the round, you need to pay a bit of attention.

The first thing to watch is your gauge.  Many people have a different gauge in one or the other, and you’ll want to do what you can to make it match.  (How do you know if you do?  Your swatch…it’s always your swatch!)  That can mean using a different size needle, or even using the same size but a different material/shape.  Like for me, I get a slightly tighter gauge on square needles than on round ones, and a slightly tighter gauge on wooden needles than on metal ones.  And I knit a tiny bit tighter when I’m working in the round than when I’m working flat.  So if it were a problem for a given project, I might switch from square needles to round ones or from wooden needles to metal ones when I move from flat to in the round to keep my gauge consistent.

The other thing to watch is your yarn, especially with multi color yarn.  And this is more of a ‘gee, yarn is nifty’ than a ‘watch out for it and correct for it’ sort of thing.  But take a look at how the colors on the yarn look in the top and bottom part of the slipper.

The top two thirds or so is was where I was knitting flat.  The bottom third or so is where I was knitting in the round.  It’s subtle (and shockingly hard to photograph), but look at how the colors sort of stack up in blocks on the top part and are more blended together on the bottom part (you can also see how much more even my knitting is when I’m working in the round, but hat will block out).

The color change is because of how the colors in the yarn stack up when you’re folding the yarn back and forth, row after row versus how they stack up when you’re spinning it in a spiral as you work round after round.  And it’s totally not a problem here (and it’s not at all something wrong with the yarn…that’s just how yarn/knitting works).  But it is something to be aware of so you’re not surprised by it (it can do funny things on like a sock heel or on a sweater when you divide for the arms).

Plus it gives us an excuse to stare at that gorgeous yarn (Opulence DK from String Theory in Tourmaline, if you missed it before and are wondering)!