50-Below Mittens

July 16, 2013

What better thing to think about in 100 degree weather (that is Fahrenheit, not Centigrade) than mittens?

014 mitten

I’m one of those people who, in winter, are always cold. And when it is REALLY cold out, or there is snow to shovel, I invariably think, “Why didn’t I knit myself some mittens?

Truthfully, at one time or another, I had knitted mittens for myself. I even knitted and felted a pair. But I never hit on the ultimate mitten, the one that held up under the coldest conditions.

Suddenly, the other day, a vision appeared: it was a vision of a double mitten. I had been sorting through some leftover balls of handspun wool, trying to figure out what I was going to do with it when I had this vision. MUST. MAKE. DOUBLE. MITTEN. I saw how, too. In that blinding flash, I suddenly envisioned exactly what I needed to do.

The first thing was measure the base of my hand right above my skinny little wrist and then around the middle of my hand, just above the thumb. Approximately 6 inches. I like my knitted fabric a little on the stout side for something like mittens, so I studied the yarn and determined it would be 30 stitches on a size 5 needle, going up to 32 above the thumb gusset.I cast on 30 stitches on waste yarn and knitted in the round for 5 rows. I allowed only 7 stitches for the gusset, then slipped it off on some waste yarn. I did not want to double the thumb, but keep it single to allow movement. I did three yarnovers to reconnect above the gusset and kept knitting around until above my index finger where I decreased and rounded off the tops.

I did this, four times, two of the outside color and two of the lining. I turned the liner inside out:

003 mitten

And carefully put the two layers together:

005 mitten

I made sure they lined up exactly where I wanted them:

006 mitten

Once they were both lined up, I pulled out the waste yarn and reinserted the needles into the live stitches. I then carefully worked my way around and knitted two stitches together the whole round, one from the outside and one from the liner:

007 mitten

Very carefully drop off the two knitted stitches as you knit them. Here were are with the first three sets finished:

008 mitten

At the halfway point. Outside and liner are joined for one half of the mitten, the two needles are the other two sets remaining:

009 mitten

A little further, and soon all the stitches are doubled up and you are back to working in the round:

010 mitten

You can work the cuff in any combination of ribbing you like. I also knitted the cuffs long enough to double-up if desired or wear long. It doesn’t take long until the only thing left is the thumb. You need to do the same thing with the 7 thumb stitches, knit them together. Then you will need to pick up stitches around the open to knit your thumb.

011 mitten

Did I say the only thing left was the thumb? Well, on one mitten, anyway. This was so much fun to concoct there was no “second mitten syndrome” here:

012 mitten

It wasn’t long before I had mittens, lovely mittens, warm wooly mittens of my own devising and my own specifications:

013 mitten

Warm. Wooly. Waiting for Winter. I used up some of the leftover handspun. Husband pointed out that he tends to be the one to shovel snow, so he will get a pair, too, and I will use up more leftover handspun. Double mittens to stay warm in. AND I have long cuffs to tuck up my sleeves so snow doesn’t run down my arms. Does it get any better, even if it IS 100 degrees outside?!

015 mitten


Irish Quartet

July 15, 2013


It’s hot, I’m tired, I’ve been fighting the local battles against rezoning to build huge commercial development in our postage stamp sized town. I had my check-up for Lyme’s today and was told I was progressing well, but will still be on antibiotics another month. I was supposed to start jury duty yesterday but called the automated line and found out my group was only on call and not needed tomorrow. I’m kind of crapped out but feel like I should make a post.

We recently rearranged the living room to do some work (actually, we rearrange it about once a week doing work of one kind or another). The work presented an opportunity to bring together four of the five Irish Castle wheels in the collection:

irish castle wheels

From left to right: the Ken Lennox Winsome Timbers Fiona, the newly-acquired at auction Pennsylvania wheel, my birthday wheel from the Lambertville Flea Market, and my original Irish Castle acquired from collector Bill Leinbach. Missing is the wheel rescued from Sinking Springs, PA and currently with Fred Hatton for a new flyer.

What intrigues me about these wheels is that no two are alike, even with size. The antique wheels, that is. That Lennox wheel is in a category by itself as far as size!




April Garden Update

July 8, 2013


This is a very belated update on the garden status. Once things started blooming, the gardens took off fast. Between new plantings going in, deadwood coming out, and constant deadheading of old blooms, there has been a little time for working on the computer. Perhaps I need to take my laptop into the garden to keep up on blogging!

April was the month for bulbs. Other spring bloomers, too, but primarily bulbs. Mainly daffodils:

012 daffodils four

The daffodils don’t show up in photos as spectacularly as they did in person, but at one point, the garden was a disneyworld of daffodils:

08 daffodils

We had big daffodils and little tete-a-tete daffodils:

09 daffodils two

Then there were hyacinths, both grape hyacinths and regular:

010 daffodils three

When nothing else was blooming in the back yard, even St. Francis had a sea of daffodils:

07 st francis

The yellow was a welcome sight after the winter. It was good to see growing, green things blooming. After the daffodils started, the flowering trees began to follow suit. First, the Snow Fountain cherry in the front yard bloomed:

06 snow fountain

The serviceberry in the side yard performed exactly the way I had envisioned when we planted it over 10 years ago:

03 serviceberry

My house and my neighbors’ are on the old 1950 side setbacks of 6 foot each, so our houses are only 12 feet apart. I wanted something feathery in there to give some bloom and light leaf cover, plus being good for the birds. Plus, a pretty, delicate spring bloom:

04 serviceberry closeup

Shrubs began blooming, too. The PJM Rhododendron and the Chinese Witch Hazel:

05 pgm and witch hazel

The spring-blooming camelias, this one is “April Kiss”:

01 camelia

And something that was a long time coming, the flowering pink almond. I live in the house I grew up in and, as a child, remembered that my mother always had a flowering pink almond on the front southwest corner of the property. I can’t remember exactly what happened to it, either a lawn mower got it or the kids playing in the yards crushed it, but it had long disappeared. One of my goals was to reestablish the flowering pink almond:

02 pink almond

It is not very flashy but should fill out in time. I was happy to see it in the traditional spot.

As April and the daffodils waned, other bulbs came to take their place. I am not much of a tulip person, but had invest all of 20 dollars in a huge bag of mixed tulip bulbs from Home Depot. Who knew? It turned out to be one of the best investments:

tulip border