Sunday, December 09, 2007

So I've Been Thinking About Mittens Lately

First off, the Christmas Meme Days 8 & 9

8. Hardest person to buy for? Probably my sister's husband. Not that he's picky, just hard to figure out what he might enjoy.

9. Easiest person to buy for? My daughter. I don't have any trouble spotting things she would like. Plus she's good about giving us a wish list.

Now on to the main topic....................

I pretty much "winged it" on sizing the Soaring Eagles mittens, as the recipients will be various ages. My contributions will surely fit someone in the group. Working the whole hand in ribbing means that, width wise at least, they can stretch or contract as needed. But it did set me to thinking that it would be handy to have some more or less standardized mitten size information.

First I turned to the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules, remembering that she had lots of handy tips for hats and even socks. I was sort of startled to realize that she doesn't say anything about mittens in the whole book. She's Canadian! How can she not cover mittens?

So I Googled "mitten size chart" expecting to come up with lots. Uh uh. There was this, which is very helpful as far as it goes. But it doesn't go far enough. It gives length, and circumference and thumb length, which are essential, but it doesn't specify where to place the thumb opening, which can be pretty crucial for a decent fit. (Though another benefit of the all ribbing mitts is that there is no demarcation between cuff and lower hand, a little more sizing "wiggle room")

Then something started niggling around in my mind, something I had seen, a diagram of mitten proportions. There is one close to what I had in mind in Selbuvotter. But that wasn't exactly it. So I started digging around through old files ("files" meaning papers stacked in a shallow box shoved under a bookcase). And sure enough I found this

The text is in Norwegian, which I don't read, but (Whoo Hoo), numbers are numbers. Best of all, those numbers indicate proportions. so they are applicable to any gauge, or to any finished length.

Years ago I visited the wonderful Vesterheim museum, and by making advance arrangements I was able to examine some of the mittens in their collection, and also have an afternoon's access to their library. (I was doing research for an article that ultimately never got written). One of the items in the library was a booklet titled Votter Og Vanter, from 1955. And in the booklet was that very helpful chart. And I had indeed made a copy and kept it in the files.

(Note: it was only after digging through all those papers that I thought to pull out Vibeke Lind's invaluable Knitting in the Nordic Tradition. She gives a little schematic with essentially the same information - should have looked there first)

So, combining information from the Internet size chart and the printed diagram of proportions, I'm set. I can devise a schematic for a range of more or less standardized mitten sizes.

Why not just use a mitten pattern generator or go ahead and order the Mitten Wizard? Well, sometimes I like doing things for myself, or at least knowing I could if I had to.


Elizabeth said...

The EPS of Mittens! Cool.

Leslie said...

Neat! Thanks for the chart and the links. I'm a fan of EZ's 36 stitch mittens myself - can get three out of one skein of Cascade 220 - a really good gift for people who tend to loose things :)

TracyKM said...

Thanks for the diagram. I have an OLD Patons pattern that goes from size 2 to adult male, and I just base everything on it. If I use bulky instead of worsted, I go down a size. If I do DK instead of worsted, I go up a size. It would be nice if there was a schematic though.
My recent mitten issue though was with a pair I wanted to felt. I know height and width felt to different ratios, but I didn't want to swatch of course!

Cindy G said...

Of course :) I think that's one reason I haven't attempted felted mittens, though my meighbor makes lovely ones from a Fiber Trends pattern, and I don't believe she ever swatches.