Friday, November 30, 2012

Maddie's Mittens from Code Name Verity

I recently read the excellent book, Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. It's set during WWII, and mentioned in the book are a pair of handknitted mittens which enable the wearer to free the fingers when needed. The author found the 1940's pattern for the mittens while doing research for the book. She included a link to the pattern (see this post for details).
Anyhoo, my book club read the book for this month's selection and I decided to knit the mittens as a gift for the person in the club whose birthday it was this month, seeing as it went along with the book we had just read.
Here is the finished product. I knitted them with some of my handspun yarn - this happens to be Gotland lambswool. It was the only thing in the correct gauge that I had on hand which wasn't listed for sale already in my Etsy shop:

You can see that an upper flap is designed to tuck into a lower flap:

Here you can see the top flipped back:

On the hand:

And with the top flipped back to free the fingers:

I knitted them with a set of new needles that I recently got. You can see in the picture that they are square instead of round. The reviews said that they helped eleviate arthritis pain and carpal tunnel that can arise from knitting. I have both. These really did help with the arthritis - a lot! The carpal tunnel, only so-so. I think the shape helps the yarn stay on the needles better, so you're not gripping everything so tightly to keep from loosing stitches off the ends of the double points. The only drawback is that they are VERY pointy and sharp:

I had finished everything but the thumb of the left mitten by the time book  club met last night. I showed my friend the mittens and told her I'd get them to her as soon as that thumb was finished, which I was able to do this morning.

By the way, Gotland lambswool is the same fiber that was used to make the Elvish cloaks in The Lord of the Rings movies. I believe that the cloaks were actually woven with a blend of Gotland and alpaca, and maybe something else, I can't remember. It's not a very soft wool, it's actually rather scratchy, but just fine for mittens and cloaks : )
Here is a book trailer for Code Name Verity :

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Two things...

1. I'm having a sale in my Etsy shop, and two of my books are discounted with coupons over at Smashwords. Follow the links for more info.

2. I'm currently knitting the mittens mentioned in the excellent book Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, and referenced at the back of the book. Here is a link to the pattern at the V&A museum in England - scroll through the choices of 1940's knitting patterns until you come to "Mittens for Women."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

For anyone out there who's interested...

My Etsy shop is back up and re-stocked. The shop had been in vacation mode since mid-summer, but it's back now. I only have one herbal product right now, but several hand spun yarns. More yarns will be added in the near future.

EDIT: 10% off in my shop now until Nov. 30th with coupon code SHOP10 at checkout!

That is all.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dyeing with lichen

On a walk this morning I found a small piece of lichen that had fallen off of a tree. Knowing that lichens can be used to dye with, with a wonderful, and surprising, range of colors, I pocketed it and brought it home.
At home, I plunked it in a small pot with about a cup of water (it was  a small piece, about 2inches x 1 inch). I simmered it for about 10 or 15 minutes and it produced an orange/yellow color.
In the picture below is the piece of lichen after the simmering process. It had originally been pale, dusty green in color:
I added a slight pinch of alum and an even slighter pinch of cream of tartar to the color pot as mordant, and then tossed in a swatch of some type of white wool yarn that I had on hand. I simmered the 4" x 2" swatch for another 10 or 15 minutes, until most of the color had been taken up by the wool.
Below, you can see the dyed swatch next to the limp, wet, piece of lichen:
What a surprising color from a bit of lichen! I've never dyed with lichens before, but if the opportunity arises to gather lichens in larger amounts, I'll certainly plunk them into the dye pot.