Friday, January 4, 2008

Get Crafty: Knittin' Mittens

I'm not a real knitter. I dabble, and until this past winter, I had never followed a pattern for knitting anything. Put another way, I made scarves and only scarves. Since I am, by nature, more concerned with what things are made of and not how they are made, it did not bother me that there was no real variety in my work. Knit, purl, knit, purl. Then, years ago, a friend and college classmate one day sported some perfect handmade mittens. You could tell by looking at them that they were homemade, but they were so cute and warm-looking that I have, ever since, sworn one day to make mittens.

The very real problem with that plan is that I cannot follow directions. By looking at me and considering my credentials, you might not think me to be truthful. But time and time again I have proven this to be the case. I follow the spirit of the directions, which is why many things do not turn out how they should and I can't blame anything but my own lack of discipline. I double a recipe and add 3 whole eggs instead of 2 and 2 yolks. I do not wait the appropriate time before applying a second coat of paint to a wall. I do not wind the copper wire the ridiculous number of times that the build-your-own remote controlled car kit tells me to and I am so ashamed that it doesn't work that I hide it in my closet and forsake my true calling as an electrical engineer, ruing the day even 18 years later. But that's another story all together.

Do not fear, dear reader. I am not a lost cause! I decided that, before I tried and ruined another project by disregarding the directions that lay in front of me and getting depressed about it, I would... *drumroll*... practice each instruction necessary for making mittens on ugly easy yarn before I started the real project on the lovely but somewhat more difficult-to-use yarn. And wouldn't you know it? It worked! I successfully made the practice mitten, if you could call it that.

But don't get too excited yet. Another of my faults is that I am very lazy. I used the traditional double-pointed needles for it and was so annoyed with my clumbsiness using them that I had pretty much given up on attempting the real thing. I thought and thought and thought about it. There must be an easier way do do this. I looked briefly online. Ultimately, I was too mentally exhausted by the truth that even knowing how to knit mittens, it was just going to be too much work for me to actually make them. It was very sad.

Then came Thanksgiving and a stroke of luck. I was packing up the kids and preparing to leave the abnormally large gathering and was making the final round of goodbyes. There, watching football, was my aunt's sister... knitting socks using a circular needle! I tried not to act too interested as I asked her how she was performing this miracle before my very eyes. My inner self was practically peeing her pants. "Magic loop... so easy... don't you go to knitting shops?" I missed most of what she said, but on the 3 hour drive home I kept thinking, "magic loop... magic loop... magic loop," as if there were any conceivable way to forget. At home again, I googled "magic loop" (as you should too) and learned how it works. has a video detailing the method. There's also a good short YouTube video about it.

It was soooo much easier than using double pointed needles. Really. At least in my opinion. Needless to say, the mittens turned out without mental anguish. Admittedly, they're not as cute as the ones my friend had, but they're pretty damn good for a first try.

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