Say, those aren't socks at all! The first of my set of 4 things
to be finished (perhaps my previous appellation of an "avalanche" of FOs may have been a slight overstatement--more like a slowish mudslide) is off the needles and on my hands! And, boy, are these babies my new best friends!
Finished: Quicksilver Fingerless Mitts
Pattern: Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts (sans schmancy colorwork)
Fiber: Yarn Pirate merino/tencel sock yarn in "Quicksilver" and dark gray Koigu KPM for the trim and cuffs.
Needles: sizes 0 and 1 DPNs
Date Started: February 2007
Date Completed: February 2007
Modifications: There were many minor modifications to the Endpaper Mitts, as I just used the pattern as a general template to make these mitts.
Okay, time for my few cents on merino/tencel, since it is a relatively new phenomenon in sock yarn, and several commenters asked me specifically what I thought about knitting with it. Merino/tencel has this magnetic, corporeal quality about it, definitely. The tencel added in makes wool tough and beautifully sheeny and lustrous. And soft and silky. When you see a merino/tencel blend in person, you immediately want to own as much of it as you can. And want to knit everything you can with it. Well, you do if you're anything like me (read: attracted to shiny, shiny prettiness). All the wonderful physical properties aside, however, I found knitting with it a little on the annoying side. It's significantly slipperier than 100% wool, so my gauge tended to be more loose and if I wasn't paying attention at all times, some of my stitches would become loose during transfer from left to right needle and become wonky looking. So, basically, I had to keep the yarn pulled somewhat taut as I knit. And the slight lines that are created when knitting in the round on dpns--the ever-so-slightly more loose stitches right at the "corners" where you shift from one dpn to the next are exaggerated, which I found a little bothersome (back, perfectionist, back!).
Merino/tencel is also somewhat less stretchy than pure wool, so I am not convinced that the tencel blend is best suited for knitting socks--that is, unless you compensate for the lack of stretch and make slightly bigger-fitting socks, in which case they may turn out a bit saggy. That said, the added tencel does provide wool with a great amount of added strength, which makes it seem appropriate--if not perfect--for sock knitting. Turns out, given all of its qualities, I really love the merino/tencel for mitts such as these. The added strength is perfect for taking the mitts on and off all day, for one thing. And the smoothness of the fabric is also perfectly suited to mitts. Okay, that should suffice for an opinion on merino/tencel. I feel compelled, though, to admit that I have purchased more merino/tencel and will probably be knitting socks out of it. I suspect I'll grow to love merino/tencel indefinitely with time.
I have a few more cents to throw into the bank: the Yarn Pirate yarn (When did I become such an opinionated-and long winded- knitter?!). Yarn Pirate sock yarn has this sort of surreal, über-alluring quality to it. I am not typically one of the many who are lured by the siren song of variegated yarns, but for some reason, I am drawn to the variegated Yarn Pirate sock yarns. And as much as I don't want to admit it, there is that "For a Limited Time Only, Get it While It Lasts!" appeal to Yarn Pirate as well. That stuff sells out on Etsy pretty much instantaneously. Not as instantly, perhaps, as Sundara, but you can't ponder your desires for very long, or you'll miss out. I don't fully understand the strong appeal it has for me, but the Quicksilver merino/tencel was the first Yarn Pirate yarn I have tried, despite my skepticism toward variegated yarns (pooling is one of the most horrific knitting-related things to me... if it pools, I rip. period.). And I had a helluva time getting it to not pool. Every darn sock pattern I tried pooled like a mofo. I tried many a sock pattern and many a needle size to no avail, and I finally gave up. Then I realized that if I reduced the number of stitches, the pooling disappeared... unfortunately, I had to reduce the number of stitches by too many to knit a regular sock. Enter Eunny's Endpaper Mitt pattern. Marvelous! Perfectly pool-less! Because my wrists are significantly twiggier than my calves!
Just look at that thumb gusset! These mitts were my first foray into thumb gussetting, so I did a bit of experimenting with methods of increasing around the thumb gusset (though I lacked the foresight to take any comparative photos of the different methods I tried). Eunny's pattern suggests the "lifted bar" increase, which I found to be a little on the holey side (perhaps I was doing it wrong?). So, I decided to try another method--not one I had seen anywhere, just one that I totally made up as I went. I think it was a way more complicated maneuver than necessary for a thumb gusset increase, but it created a hole-less gusset, so I was satisfied with it.
Overall, I love this quick little knit, and I suspect I'll be making many more of these dumbed-down, Eunny-style fingerless mitts (though I DO plan to make some of the two-colored ones, as well). They're simple, yet functional, and I can enjoy my variegated yarns in pool-less peace. That's my "Lookie at my fantastic, shiny new mitts! I heart them!" face. Otherwise known as my whelmed face. That's about as excited as I get, y'all.