I got my latest issue of Simply Crochet a few weeks back and noticed a lovely little section in it whereby two different crochet experts were challenged to make a project using one skein of Aran yarn. One made a hat and the other some very nice-looking fingerless mitts. See their competition here.
I had recently decided to unravel and repurpose a spiral scarf I made last winter (it was heavy and overly long, and the spirals got all twisted up every time I tried to wear it – it was a disaster, in short). I ended up with a huge bunch of variegated grey chunky wool, and a smaller amount of bright pink (it was the accent color).
I tackled the fingerless mitts pattern because I already have a pink and black hat, and the one in the magazine didn’t appeal to me, style-wise. I’ve never owned a pair of this type of mitts but I always see women wearing them – on the Metro, walking around, at bus stops, in the shops. On the face of it, it seems a useful design: keep the majority of your hands warm, while freeing up your fingers to use a cell phone, grab keys from your pocket, pick up dog poop, etc…
I’m a middling crocheter, not an amateur nor at a highly skilled level – just average and slowly improving. I like to learn new stitch techniques and love to challenge myself, but I discover that I get bored when a project goes on too long. Thus the reason I have 8 or 9 pending projects, mostly the blanket, bed quilt or sweater variety. Every project I’ve started that involves pairs of something – socks, mittens, slippers – has died a swift death after the first of the pair is finished. I’m not exactly the world’s greatest completionist.
I was determined that THIS project would be different. I would finish both mitts and enjoy the fruits of my labor (or at least the warmth of it) before winter ended. This winter. Not some vague winter down the line. So I picked up my trusty 5 mm hook and got started. I instantly realized that my hook was too small for my yarn, but I decided that it would simply make the mitts nice and thick. I pressed on and was actually quite pleased with my result after I completed the first one. I’d even made the decision to step outside the box and do the picot edging with the pink wool, as a nice accent. I thought it looked really sharp.
So the lonely mitt sat in the bottom of my project bag for two more weeks, while my brain pretended to ignore it. Then I saw a teenaged girl at the bus stop, texting away like mad with her stylin’ fingerless mitts and I went home and grudgingly dug the project back out. At my son’s judo lesson the next night I actually managed to complete the second mitt! I was so proud, I just sat there looking at the pair of them in my lap like I’d just given birth. My friend said, “Aren’t you going to try them on”?
As violins played (in my head) I slipped first one, then the other on my hands. The freedom! The warmth! My fingers felt nimble and swift, able to pick up small coins from the ground at a moment’s notice! I proudly wore them home that night, surrounded by the rosy glow of success. I had not failed myself. I had Finished. A. Project.
The next morning I was getting ready to walk my son to school. It’s a mile each way and gives me and my greyhound a good workout before breakfast. I grandly put my new mitts on and we headed out the door. Halfway down the block I knew I’d made a terrible mistake. The temperature had plunged overnight and Northeast England was in the grips of a hard freeze. As were the tips of my fingers, it would seem.
I could not believe just how COLD my fingers got! Oh yes, the palms of my hands were toasty warm, and my wrists had nothing to complain about either. But as all feeling became lost in my fingers I came to the realization that mitts without fingers is a horrible design. I’ve never had a problem with my palms and wrists feeling the cold, it has always been the extremities, like fingertips, that freeze first. And here I was, sporting a thickly crocheted item that expressly exposed me to the chill temperatures, right where I didn’t need it.
I spent the rest of the walk with my hands stuffed in my pockets, except for when I had to scoop my dog’s poop, of course. Oh sure, the mitts made THAT job easy! Also, it’s quite simple to grip a cup of coffee with them.
So, what do I do now? I could unravel the pink edging and crochet the top into a pair of mittens (that would stop my husband humming the theme to Oliver! when he sees me wearing them), or I could make little caps that button down over my fingers for when I want to be warmer, or I can leave well enough alone and only use them when the weather is nicer. The problem is I made them too thick and cosy. They’re going to be too warm for early spring, and too cold for winter.
I think I’ll shelve them for now and work on my scarf. It’s using the same wool, and will be a straightforward keyhole design. Should be simple. I hope.