My blog is about the creative process, my love of nature, my big Duh moments,
and whatever else itches at the time, from childhood memories to Russian literature.
Below, an example. For my most current blog, go to: http://murielleknitwear.blogspot.com/
Cold Hands No More: The Anna Karenina Handwarmer.
I cannot think of hand muffs without thinking of Anna Karenina, the protagonist of Tolstoy's famous novel. If you haven't read it, get yourself a copy quick - it is one of my favorite books.
Hand muffs -- which from now on I shall call "handwarmers", due to the unfortunate slang bent the word muff has acquired since the days of Tolstoy and Anna Karenina -- have been on my mind ever since the other day.
I was hiking in the Santa Monicas with my friend and neighbor Patti.
The weather was so cold in spite of the sun that, poor little fragile California poppies that we are, we each wore one of my wristlets with both hands stuffed in it. (see previous blog)
Patti suggested I make a longer and wider one, one that would give comfortable space for both hands. As soon as she said that, I began plotting the thing. Nature interrupted me a lot, not in the way it usually does, but by offering so many wonderful sights that I had to stop every five seconds to take a picture. I am sharing a few of them below.
First there were the deer (remember Marisa Tomei ooh-ing and aah-ing about the deer in "My Cousin Vinny"? I still laugh my head off just thinking about it), and the gorgeous meadows.
Then came the rocky outcroppings and the striking old oaks.
Soon we fell upon some evil-looking fungi, straight out of Snape's potions bag: (if anyone knows what they are, please tell us. Not that we really want to eat them, but still. We like mushroom trivia).
Professor Lupin greeted us,
we lunched on delicious Miner's Lettuce,
and Patti taught me all about "Cowboy Cologne", otherwise known as wild sage :)
Between shots, I cogitated about handwarmers, Anna Karenina's tragic fate, St. Petersburg train platforms and icy (duh) skating rinks.
As soon as I got home, I charged towards Knitting Central, i.e. the couch our dog lets us sit at the end of, sometimes. A Noro yarn was glaring at me from the coffee table and my favored walnut sz 13 US (9 mm) needles hung about nearby.
All I needed now was some black lycra, as I wanted the wrists to stay nice and fitted in spite of being repeatedly stretched over the hands. I plowed through the canyons of boxes in my shed in search of the lone cone and got lucky quickly. Pheww.
I cast on 16 stitches nice and loose, although if your hands are bigger, I suggest you add a couple of stitches to that; to give you a frame of reference and an idea of how easy it would be to break them, my wrists' circumference is a pitiful 5 1/2". I will include directions to make it your size in the pattern, should you be built differently.
After a couple of rows of garter stitch, I did a few inches of stockinette stitch, broken up here and there by more garter stitch. At the end of the straight part, I began to increase mightily, so that pretty soon I had twice as many stitches (32) as before.
I wrapped the piece around my fist to make sure that was enough, and decided that I was done with stockinette and garter. Everything gets boring after a while.
I therefore plotted a little relief in the form of a bas-relief for the center part, keeping columns of 8 stitches on each side in stockinette, and carving a stockinette cross in a field of reverse stockinette in the center.
(The full pattern with graph, diagram, dimensions etc... will be available soon-ish on Ravelry and on my website)
As I knit, I noticed the yarn going down fast: anxiety pangs. Was I going to have enough? Pondering fixes and alternative solutions kept me so busy that I completely messed up the second part of the bas-relief and had to unravel at least 12 rows. Sniff.
All ended well, however, and here is the finished piece before I pressed it and sewed it:
And here it is again, pressed, sewn and worn by my snotty French mannequin, Cocotte:
Cocotte, who is a contrarian, uses it as an arm warmer (if you love that look, knit yourself a pair)
Of course, in the spirit of Anna Karenina, you may want to wear it as a hand warmer, as shown at the top by my lovely Emily. By the way, the dog in the picture is the same dog that was just on the couch a minute ago.
If you wish, you can knit or crochet a 24" chain to attach to the handwarmer, so you can wear it
around your neck if you get sick of it, or when your hands get warm enough.
Personally, I like to bunch it up on one of my wrists.
I like the insolent attitude it confers upon the wearer.
To make it your size, measure around your bunched fist and figure out how many stitches that makes. Then apply that measurement to your width, minus a couple of stitches, since knit stretches.
The pattern, which has sizes, diagrams and gauges, will be on my Ravelry pattern store any second now (ahem), as well as on my website and in my Etsy store.
Enjoy and have fun till next time! Murielle.
P.S.: I like the look of the armwarmer so much that I think I may make a sweater with sleeves like that. Next fall. Next year. Someday.